Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins took The Dark Knight and transported Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s iconic creation into the real world.
Hauling characters such as Ras Al Ghoul and The Scarecrow into the narrative enhanced the psychological ante of the film and Nolan was able to display a diverse side to Batman and for the first time, gave the hero centre stage in his own film. The critical and commercial success of the 2005 release led to Nolan having creative control over the follow up, though unlike Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, this would not be his undoing.
2008’s The Dark Knight delivered a Joker who not only owed a debt to the work of Frank Miller and Alan Moore, but also to Denny O’Neil’s classic run in the 1970s. The film displays a character of malicious immorality, and not the giddy Clown Prince of Crime associated with the ‘60s series.
The comics were able to illustrate that the Joker and Batman demand co-existence, and until The Dark Knight, no form of moving image was ever able to truly capture this. Heath Ledger’s Joker lacks an origin story and rightly so. Hollywood often tries to demystify its villains and it is delightful to observe a character who goes against the grain. We don’t need to know where he comes from in order to know that he is dangerous.
In The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan added to his first two Batman films, making them more layered and more textured. The faults with those films on a plot level are somewhat patched over by the concluding part of the trilogy. The differing tone and visual style between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight was always something that seemed wrong, but The Dark Knight Rises is the missing link; Nolan’s universe has come full-circle, with a film which bridges the gap between the more comic-book elements of Begins and the Michael Mann crime drama lurking beneath The Dark Knight.
Female characters have always been the weak-link in Nolan’s Batman films, with the character of Rachel Dawes feeling shoehorned in by some studio mandate. The character was integral to the events of The Dark Knight, but she never felt like she belonged in Gotham City – but Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle does.
A trilogy which broke the mould of what filmmakers could do comic book movies, Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight Trilogy also expanded the Batman mythos and made three films which were faithful to the character’s comic book origins. They still hold-up today.