This may surprise a great many of you, but I don't have a lot to say about The Dark Knight. When Batman Begins came out, I wrote about it extensively. Then sometime after that post, I put down everything I have ever wanted to say about the relationship between Batman and the Joker in my essay for Batman Unauthorized: Vigilantes, Jokers, and Heroes in Gotham City. So, I don't really feel the need to reiterate my opinion here yet again. Now, I could point out the ways that Christopher Nolan's film correspond with my own views on the characters, and the places they veer off, right? What did they get correct? What did they screw up? I could do that, right?
Only the film is perfect.
I don't have any argument with any aspect of it whatsoever. I loved Batman Begins, loved it, felt it was the best portrayal of Batman ever at that time. But I'm not blind to it's clunky bits; it goes a little Hollywood in the end, that awkward line at the end about "escalation" is pure next movie set-up that sticks out like a sore thumb. What is not to say I didn't love it, see it hundreds of times, own it, think it was the best portrayal of Batman on film ever done to date, etc...
But this? This is everything I've ever wanted to see done with the character since I first read Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and Year One back in 1986. In fact, while it's clear that The Dark Knight is HEAVILY influenced by Alan Moore's The Killing Joke and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, it charts its own narrative course without stealing overtly from either. In other words, nothing borrowed outright like the swarm of bats from Year One in Batman Begins. Rather, this film is their thematic sibling and equal. Watching it, I realized I no longer NEEDED to see The Dark Knight Returns ever filmed, because everything that work says about the character is now on screen, in a more modern and actually more realistic way. I think, will Frank Miller clearly off his rocker and ruining everything he ever did with nonsense like The Dark Knight Strikes Again and All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, this is the new definitive. I'll go so far as to say that while I'm sure they'll make a third film, part of me wishes they'd just stop here with perfection.
Best thing about The Dark Knight: It makes all other superhero movies look silly by comparison.
Worst thing about The Dark Knight: It even makes Batman Begins look silly by comparison.
Basically, Begins was the pinnacle of the superhero movie, but Dark Knight "transcends" (there's that word) the form and demands to be compared to films like The French Connection, Silence of the Lambs, Heat, The Bourne Identity and their ilk. It's that good.
Just go see it.