Published on October 14, 2008
“ ONE FUNDRAISER WITH MY PALS, YOU’LL NEVER NEED ANOTHER CENT” 2008s THE DARK KNIGHT , is by far the highest grossing Batman film to date, and is infact the second highest grossing film of all time. Director Christopher Nolan’s sweeping masterpiece has become a cultural phenomenon, but what made this particular movie so wildly popular?
“ THIS TOWN DESERVES A BETTER CLASS OF CRIMINAL...” THREE KEY PLAYERS: Bruce Wayne/Batman played by Christian Bale Harvey Dent/Two Face played by Aaron Eckhart The Joker played by Heath Ledger In The Dark Knight we see the Joker, portrayed by the late Heath Ledger, rise from a simple bank robber to Batman’s super arch-nemesis we all know from the classic comic book series. Batman, with the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and the newly elected DA, Harvey Dent, have worked hard to fight against police corruption and bring down the Mob. In his search for someone to take up his mantel and give Gotham the hero it needs, a hero with a face, Bruce Wayne believes that the time when Gotham no longer needs Batman may be coming. Harvey Dent is the hero Gotham needs as his stand against organized crime has given the city its first legitimate ray of light in decades, something that the controversial Batman could never bring. To complicate things and create mass chaos, what he does best, the Joker promises that people will die every day Batman does not take off his mask and turn himself in. By killing the police commissioner and the judge presiding over the case of the Mob trials, the Joker kicks off a chain reaction of cataclysmic events in a battle for Gotham’s soul, which will bring out the hero or villain inside all those involved. What follows is simply the greatest super hero film ever created, producing an incredible display of heroism, villainy and humanity, making The Dark Knight a must see heart-stopping, tragic thriller. Above photo: Revealing shot of Heath Ledger as the Joker in the opening scene of The Dark Knight . Ledger’s portrayal of the classical villain was without a doubt, a key factor to the film’s success. The Dark Knight contained something that Batman Begins did not, a centralized nemesis throughout the entire movie which can appeal to a broader audience.
“ WHY SO SERIOUS?” VIRAL MARKETING: The Dark Knight , without a doubt, had the most brilliant and successful viral marketing campaign for any movie ever released. There is simply too much that was done to promote the movie to get into it all, but the viral marketing campaign for The Dark Knight played a key role in spreading the anticipation for the film. The first two major websites launched in the campaign were www.whysoserious.com and www.ibelieveinharveydent.com . Countless numbers of websites soon followed including www.ibelieveinharveydenttoo.com and www.rorysdeathkiss.com , among many more. Over the course of approximately a year prior to the release of the film, fans around the globe were lead on treasure hunts as orchestrated by The Joker himself, or even rallies for Gotham’s new city DA hopeful Harvey Dent. The first half of the campaign was essentially based around the character of The Joker as fans would take orders from the character through websites to go to certain destinations, or do certain activities to coincide with his plans for chaos. Often, his puzzles or hunts would lead the fans to the discovery of a new trailer or photo of a character, giving them just a little more of a taste of the movie to come. But the Joker’s games would slow down, at least for a while as Warner Bros. Viral marketing concentration was transferred to Harvey Dent following the death of Heath Ledger on January 22, 2008. They wanted to take the focus off of Ledger for some time. “I Believe in Harvey Dent” would become a slogan well known across the world well before July 18. Large gatherings in the streets to support the fictional character caught the attention of many who would not regularly be interested in such things. It is difficult to walk past a group of people shouting “Vote for Harvey Dent!” and not become at least a little interested.
“ THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE MEETS AN IMMOVABLE OBJECT.” THE HEATH FACTOR: “ The Joker should be charged with the film's biggest crime: stealing the show,” (Kimberly Gadette). To most viewers beyond the core Batman fan base, it was Heath Ledger as The Joker that caught their attention. There was some scepticism amongst fans at the initial casting of Ledger, but once we started to see some pictures from the set and later on footage, there was no doubt in anybody’s mind that he was the man for the job. Once he put on that makeup and voice, there was really no Heath Ledger to be seen. He was simply, The Joker. Ledger portrays the character in a brilliant fashion, creating a villain as eerie, dark, and memorable as any we have seen in decades. Whether it’s the way he seems to constantly lick his lips as to draw attention to his scars along his cheeks, or stare down his victims with utmost intensity, Ledger’s Joker will always have a place in the mind of those who viewed The Dark Knight . The Joker has an uncanny ability to seemingly manipulate every character he meets in anyway he wants, and with the help of writer/director Christopher Nolan, he makes us believe that psychopaths like this can really exist. On January 22, 2008, Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose at the age of 28. The death of Ledger had devastated the movie-going world, especially those in anticipation of seeing him in The Dark Knight only six months later. Once fans were able to accept the tragic death of the actor, the buzz for what was already one of the most anticipated films of all time had grown even more. As this would be Ledgers last completed role before his death, non-Batman fans suddenly became much more interested in watching The Dark Knight . As July 18 approached, buzz for the movie and Ledger’s performance continued to rise. Talk of a possible posthumous Oscar nomination began to surface from critics around the globe, and all there was left for the fans to do, was to simply watch the movie. Even far prior to the death, even the casting of Heath Ledger, there was no question that The Dark Knight ’s box office numbers were going to be substantially impressive, but there is also no question that the presence of an incredible performance by the late Heath Ledger brought well deserved attention to the movie. The Heath factor is really only one element that brought this masterpiece together...
“ THIS CITY JUST SHOWED YOU THAT IT’S FULL OF PEOPLE READY TO BELIEVE IN GOOD.” THE NOLAN FACTOR: In the past two decades, there have been a few questionable Batman films produced, i.e. 1995’s Batman Forever , and 1997’s Batman and Robin . These movies left Batman fans utterly disappointed and upon the release of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins eight years later, fans were still very skeptical about the release of a new Batman film. They did not want to be disappointed yet again. Word about just how good the Batman Begins really was had spread, but perhaps not early enough to garner the support that The Dark Knight received. Begins had a huge following over the years prior to this summer and people also began to look at the name under director of the film. Christopher Nolan has failed to disappoint fans. He has made five movies in the last eight years, four of which are on the Internet Movie Database’s top 250 films of All Time. Respect for a director like that only sheds more positive light on film yet to be released. With movies like Memento , The Prestige , and Batman Begins , fans really had only one thing to say as they approached the release of The Dark Knight... “In Nolan we trust...” Nolan Films on IMDb
“ BECAUSE HE’S THE HERO GOTHAM DESERVES...” When it comes down to it, whether you factor in the elements that create anticipation for a film like this such as a terrific cast, standout performer, a brilliant viral marketing campaign and director, or even the IMAX factor as shown in the previous frame, there is one essential reason why The Dark Knight is currently the second largest film of all time...it delivered what the fans deserved. Not only is it the best Batman movie ever made, but without a doubt, The Dark Knight is widely hailed as the greatest comic book movie of all time. It is simply what needed to happen, and this is one for the ages.
“ I WANT, $10MILLION A YEAR, FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE CITATIONS: Box Office numbers found at: Box Office Mojo http://www.boxofficemojo.com/franchises/chart/?id=batman.htm The Internet Movie Database http://www.imdb.com/ All Slide Titles are quotes from The Dark Knight Copyright Warner Bros. 2008
The Dark Knight returns from the bonds of death to find a much different Gotham than he left behind.
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