The wildly successful The Dark Knight set the tone for comic book movies to come. It was determined by fans and studio executives that all comic book movies need to be dark. That is what the fans want. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Marvel continued to make their brand of movies and still were successful. The reason it worked with this film, and X2: X-Men Unite, was because the characters and the stories they told were dark.
The Dark Knight is an epitome of a Batman movie. Fans thought that is what they wanted from their comic movies but the films which followed that trend fell flat. Man of Steel, Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel. Keep in mind, The Dark Knight Rises failed to capture the enthusiasm of its predecessor. The Dark Knight was a movie that was running on all cylinders from the moment of frame one. The cast (or re-casting), the script, the art direction, editing and the direction of Nolan.
Nolan’s Batman films are what filmmakers should be attempting to achieve in an era of CG and motion capture. This film gave the story scope, using Chicago as the backdrop. The large aerial shots with the lone figure at the edge of the roof. The cinematography was later recaptured in Skyfall, which was beautifully shot. The story wasn’t about the hunt for The Joker, but for the hunt of one’s humanity. Examining the base instinct in all of us.
The Dark Knight came out at the same summer Marvel’s Iron Man hit theaters. Yet, both films were applauded by audiences, even though their tones were vastly different. The dark brooding nature of the film fit the dynamic of the overall story. Bruce Wayne thinking he has a chance to escape the Batman and let Harvey Dent take on his mantle. Thus, allowing Bruce to live a normal life and spend the rest of his years with Rachel.
The Dark Knight managed to capture the essence of what Batman is, which eluded all the previous films and after. Yes, I include Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises in that. This movie was the perfect encapsulation of what Batman should be and what fans would expect. While this may be the only perfect Batman movie we have had to date, we can relish in the fact that it was a film about Batman and The Joker.