By Gustavo Buenrostro
Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” is one of the most influential films in the past decade and its impact can be felt in films today.
“The Dark Knight” is a comic-book movie based on the Detective Comics character Batman.
It tells the story of Bruce Wayne, played by Christian Bale, dealing with the strain of being Batman and a new villian that has made his presence known in Gotham city, the Joker, played by Heath Ledger.
The plot synopsis is simple, but the film has multiple layers and became a trend setter after it came out.
The film’s tone is the most obvious influence in other films. Nolan grounded Batman in a realistic way.
“What if Batman existed in the real world?” is a question apparent in the Dark Knight trilogy.
But it’s wasn’t just the realism.
It was the movie’s gritty, dark tone that other films took inspiration from.
Unlike “The Dark Knight,” other comic-book films don’t make death a possibility for the hero.
Films like “Spider-Man,” “Fantastic Four” or “X-Men” all have villains and danger, but they never placed their heroes in mortal danger.
Batman is a hero, but is also vulnerable.
Not just because he didn’t have any powers, but because the films showed the character’s limits.
Even in the comic book, Batman feels superhuman, but the one in “The Dark Knight” feels like he could actually die.
It wasn’t until this blockbuster that other comic book movies embraced the dark tone.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” made Steve Rogers more vulnerable, even though he had super powers.
But it wasn’t just comic book films that “The Dark Knight” influenced; films like “Prisoners” and “Sicario” took the tone of a dark, gritty film and amplified it.
The heroes in those films don’t necessarily win, they just survive.
“Man of Steel” even attempted to make Superman more grounded.
“John Wick,” “Dredd” and “The Equalizer” most likely would not have been made if it wasn’t for “The Dark Knight” setting the trend of dark films with vulnerable heroes.
Nolan not only made the hero relatable, but also made the villain a complex character.
The Joker in “The Dark Knight” is evil and does bad things because he likes chaos, but there is more to his motivation than that.
Nolan is a master at his craft, subtly hinting at the Joker’s backstory throughout the film.
Whether it’s through the stories the Joker tells of his past or the people he targets, Heath Ledger’s nuisance of the Joker gives the character a lot of mystique.
There was a point in time where audiences believed that having dark and gritty films wasn’t always the best thing.
No one wants a realistic “Mission: Impossible” movie because its takes the fun out of it.
No one likes when films take themselves too seriously, but many films have benefitted from it, especially when the subject matter is serious.
It just takes a great story and a great director to make the outlandish seem grounded.
One thing that is certain, “The Dark Knight” has had a major impact in Hollywood that can still be felt today.