Batman: the Dark Knight Film Analysis

Category: Night, The Dark Knight
Last Updated: 19 Apr 2023
Essay type: Film Analysis
Pages: 7 Views: 2207

The Dark Knight directed by Christopher Nolan is non-stop action thriller that continually did the unexpected. The film is based off of the original Batman comic book but additionally changes the perception of the everyday world as good to naturally bad. Throughout the movie, Batman stands for honesty and goodness while the Joker is a symbolism of chaos and evil. Both sides are forced to make quick-witted decisions in order to stop the opposing vigilante from doing his desired work. The citizens of Gotham are put in the heart of this circumstance and feel obligated to go against their values to stop the chaos.

Numerous people habitually pursue their dreams and values but often become blinded from their true intentions by the world they exist in. To understand the circumstance the citizens of Gotham are placed in we must first understand each side they are being pulled from. First is the good side, represented by Batman/Bruce Wayne and played by Christian Bale. He stands for everything good and has one personal rule as a superhero that prevents him from killing any person. Batman believes the law must punish the immoral so he stays in the shadows of the night. The law depends on Batman to do the work they legally cannot do.

So Batman makes it possible for the law to easily come across these criminals even when they run beyond national borders. These unlawful acts committed by Batman are easily looked past due to bright light always surrounding him. There are many scenes in which the lighting shows the goodness of Mr. Wayne. His underground office wear all his superhero work is done has a ceiling purely of bright white lights. No other part in the movie has this much lighting. Also, the bright Batman light on top of the building is a symbol of good around the city. When the light is shinning many criminals second guess crimes they have always committed.

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Furthermore, Bruce Wayne is always looking through the windows in his home that radiate with natural light. Batman’s suit may be completely black but this is in order to be a stealth hero through the night. When looking closer at these night time scenes each one consists of Batman standing in the darkness but always with a very bright light somewhere nearby. Secondly is the bad side, represented by the Joker and played by Heath Ledger. From first sight of the Joker you know he is wicked. He wears a purple suit coat, green vest, green tie, and a patterned gray shirt. His hair is always a mess and black make-up surrounds his eyes.

These are all dark colors but they are not to hide in the darkness of the night such as Batman’s outfit. He is not trying to hide; he wants to prove people how evil he really is. The Joker also has a piercing voice that is not forgotten combined with an evil laugh that shows his true ecstasy. He has no limits and thrives to do the unexpected just to see how people will react. Christopher Nolan begins this movie with ordinary people wearing a Joker mask while they are robbing a bank. Each member of this mob is shot after they do their part of their job until the real Joker becomes the last one standing.

This first scene in the film is pure evil and captivates the audience quickly although I believe the director is trying to create early signs of symbolism. These ordinary men believe if they wear this Joker mask they are some how something they never could be on their own. The next scene also symbolizes something similar to the robbery scene but on the opposite side of the spectrum. The mob is meeting when all of a sudden multiple want-to-be batmen try to engage in the action to stop the wickedness. They too are wearing costumes and masks just like Batman’s creating a clear relation between the outfit and super human power.

The real Batman even states at the end of this scene when asked what is the difference between him and the other phony batmen, “I am not wearing hockey pads! ” Early in the film it is evident people are trying to be something they are not causing themselves pain and in even some cases death. If the fake batmen wouldn’t have worn that attire they would have never stood up to the mob and created the clash that the real Batman was forced to fix. The abilities of the two vigilantes in the city captivated many people and they starting forgetting who they really were. The city in Gotham is in chaos.

They no longer know what they stand for and are starting to wonder if fighting evil is, in fact, creating more evil. One man who stands strong even when the public is second-guessing is Harvey Dent played by Aaron Eckhart. He is the new district attorney and is respected by the entire city for stopping corruption all over the town. He is a clean-shaven man with blonde hair and blue eyes who presents himself as a very proper man. This mise en scene proves that this man is a good man. If he were unshaven, had dark eyes, and dark hair it would be hard to consider him a truly good man.

The director realizes this may not be true with everyone but it is a typical stereotype in our society today. As the movie goes on the enemy, who is forcing him to second-guess his values, tests him time and time again. Being an honest man is no longer putting criminals away; they are always one step ahead. By the end of the film, the Joker crushes Harvey’s values and blinds him from what his true goals were in life. His two-sided face shows this visually after being burned in the explosion. Also, Harvey has a coin with a head printed on both sides. This coin never can land on tails but Harvey claims to people, “I make my own luck”.

This symbolizes his values and how he believes he can accomplish anything at this point in the movie. After an explosion kills his girlfriend, he reclaims the coin but one side of the coin is now completely black. Harvey at this point, mad at the world, flips the coin to put others life up to chance. He no longer says he will make his own luck; the coin flip is now up to chance. The worldly things in life ruined Harvey to the point that he becomes better off dead. Once the noblest man in the city, Harvey Dent becomes caught between choosing the law or his own way in order to bring to an end wrongdoings.

Alongside Harvey are the commissioner and the city police department. They too are uncertain of how to stop the turmoil in the city of Gotham. They are put directly in the middle between choosing Batman’s side or the Joker’s side, which is pure evil but made very appealing through his trickery. Members of the police department are overwhelmed with life and corruption floods through them. Some could use an extra few dollars here and there to have the easy way out but they failed to realize that taking shortcuts would always catch up to them in the end.

The once good cops of Gotham soon can no longer be trusted due to the Joker blinding their true values. Not only are the once good people of Gotham confused, the mob is also. Due to all the imprisonment of mob leaders there wasn’t anyone “on top” of the streets. Criminals no longer knew whom they were working for or what they were working for. This is visually shown in the movie when the Joker burns all of the money that had been stolen by the mob earlier. He claims the money is not what brings the mob together; it is the brutality and wrongdoing throughout the city. The entire movie is filled with a confused mob.

Even from the beginning the mob does not know what to do with their money or what criminal action to take next. The greatest visual symbolism in the movie is the Joker’s mask. It is often mistaken that “good” is happiness when really the evil is hiding underneath. The Joker’s makeup is white symbolizing purity and good along with his smile that is scarred into the sides of his lips. All the pain the Joker is feeling inside is covered by this phony smile and pure colored face. He even states an example of this when describing how he got the scars of his face, “why so serious? The Joker does not know who he really is or what he is trying to do. He is in confusion just as the rest of the city. Another illustration of visual symbolism is the boat scene toward the end of the movie. There are two ships, Liberty and Freedom, each having a completely different set of individuals. In this scene the director portrays the natural human and the confusion in each of us. Did they not blow up the other ship because they cared for others or were they scared for their own sake? This proves once again that this city is in confusion and is blinded from the chaos that is happening.

Luckily there were a few people who stood up for their values at this critical time and proved to everyone else that values will stand the test of time if you stay true to them. Each character in this movie had goals and values, whether it was to take crime off the streets, create chaos, or just be a good human being. When things didn’t go as planned or as usual these characters became tested to do what was right. Many fell to what they never wanted to be while Batman stayed strong throughout time. In the scene where Batman and the Joker are in the interrogation room and Batman is ready to kill.

It is not an accident that the lighting is so bright. It reminds Batman what he stands for even in the darkest times and keeps him from breaking his one and only rule. He could have ended everything there with one punch but knew taking the short cut would not pay off in the end. This is what makes Batman the true superhero of the movie. We must put our wants and needs behind what is right in many situations in life in order to truly reach our goals.


  1. Nolan, Christopher, Dir. Batman: The Dark Knight. Dir. Christopher Nolan. " Warner Bros: 2008, Film.

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Batman: the Dark Knight Film Analysis. (2018, Jan 12). Retrieved from

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