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Joseph Rash

English 102
Textual Analysis of The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight is hailed as one of the greatest superhero movies to ever have been
created. It is known as such thanks to a number of elements of the film that draws on historical
events. This paper is written to find and discuss those parts of the film that propel it into
greatness, while also determining how well the previous Batman lore is preserved as it delves
into a grimmer reality.
The first important aspect to note is the characters in the film. The three main characters,
Batman, Two-Face, and Joker are all fighting for their own version of justice. Batman is a
vigilante who has Gotham and its citizens' best interest at heart. He has to sacrifice time and his
own well being to protect Gotham. This is evident in the movie as he fights against the criminals
that dare threaten the city. Two-Face first began as Harvey Dent, an upcoming District Attorney
who also sought to protect Gotham. His method for dealing with crime is different as he likes to
take a more legal approach than Batman. The film stays true to this notion as it shows Dent
dealing with criminals and sending them off to jail. The main contrast between Dent and Batman
is that Batman often violates laws to get to the criminals, like breaking their bones among other
cruel and unusual punishments. Two-Face is the opposite of Dent, despite the fact that they are
the same person, in that instead of using the logic and code of law to decide the fate of his
adversaries, he uses the flip of a coin to determine their fate. The Joker is an overall anarchist
that does whatever he wants to with a devil may cry attitude. He blows up cars, hospitals, puts

out death warrants, terrorizes people etc... The film is faithful when it comes to the portrayal of
these three characters.
It is also important to look at the actors playing these characters. Heath Ledger, who
played Joker, spent 28 days in a hotel room all by his lonesome figuring out how to be a
psychopath. Christian Bale was chosen as Batman due to his looks and body type fitting well
with the typical Batman mold, and Aaron Eckhart had a strong jaw line, as is historically
accurate when portraying Harvey Dent (although that isn't the only reason.)
The inspiration for the film came from two graphic novels named The Killing Joke and
Batman: The Long Halloween. The former depicts the Joker's origins and him trying to sap the
sanity out of Batman by constantly running him around saving allies from doom. While the film
isn't faithful to how the Joker came to be (instead of a chemical accident sending him over the
brink of sanity, it is explained that Joker grew up with an abusive father), it does depict Joker
sending Batman askew over Gotham in a desperate attempt to save allies from doom. The latter
of the graphic novels shows Dent's transformation into Two-Face. In both the film and the novel,
it is a criminal who able to drag the 'White Knight' down into their despicable standards. In both
instances, the left half of Dent's face is burned and melted off, showing the attention to history
the film has.
There is one peculiar scene in The Dark Knight that shows Batman going to Hong Kong
to fight a businessman. This is odd because Batman in every iteration when not crossed with
another comic book hero has devoted his life to protecting Gotham. How is he able to do so if he
is across the Pacific Ocean while there is a man dressed as a clown running rampant? Another
scene late in the movie reveals that Batman has access to every Gotham phone's data and he can
use the cameras in them to track people down. His assistant, Lucius Fox, who is supposed to be

portrayed as a down-to-earth business man, expresses concern and almost disappointment that
Batman would spy on everyone else. A real life incident involving the NSA showed that they
were using people's data in their phone to spy on them, and just like Lucius Fox, once people
knew about it, they were concerned and even outraged.
Overall the movie does a good job preserving all the history of Batman and its tropes and
schemes and is able to translate them into a gritty action movie.