The Dark Knight a decade on - the superhero movie we both needed and deserved
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The Dark Knight Trilogy is to superhero movies what Lord of the Rings is to fantasy. Three films on a level almost unmatched by anything before or since. A pinnacle of the genre at its finest. None of Christopher Nolan’s three Batman movies shows this off as well as the middle entry – The Dark Knight. It’s hard to believe that it is already ten years old, yet this came out when the Marvel Cinematic Universe had barely started. The Dark Knight is a very important moment for comic book movies, which weren’t exactly floundering at the box office but had not become the inescapable sensation they are now. The still very likeable Batman Begins (2005) had just about raised an eyebrow, and this was followed by the disappointing flop of Superman Returns (2006). The X-Men Trilogy (as it was at that point) struggled to consistently get over the half a billion dollars mark globally. Sam Raimi’s Spiderman movies started well but ended with the underwhelming Spiderman 3 (2007). And let’s not even talk about The Incredible Hulk (2008). The MCU certainly doesn’t. Then almost out of nowhere, we get The Dark Knight. That moment in history where we can say “There. That was when superhero movies got their new millennium mojo”. It made in its first week what its predecessor had made during its entire theatrical run. It was only the fourth film in history to make over a billion dollars across the globe. It was also the most commercially successful superhero movie ever, a record later snatched up by Avengers Assemble in 2012. It is not just its unprecedented success in cinemas that make The Dark Knight so legendary. The film itself is magnificent; an intelligent and absorbing crime thriller that ditches the stylised look of Batman Begins and sees the eponymous hero pushed to his ragged edge. Nolan makes a film fuelled by chaos, that is the chaos of a post-9/11 world and the ethics of fighting evil; the chaos of modern capitalism’s supposed security. Finally, there is the slowly escalating chaos of the film's antagonist, and the increasing danger for all involved.
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