Some men cannot be bribed with money or power or material possessions. Some men have no purpose other than destruction. Some men go about their lives feeding on the misery of others. “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” – Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth.
The Dark Knight is Christopher Nolan’s second installment of his planned Batman trilogy. With the help of Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), Lucien Fox (Morgan Freeman) and Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman (Christian Bale) attempts to clean the streets of Gotham. As if the mob wasn’t enough, a new villain has emerged – The Joker (Heath Ledger). The Joker’s unconventional ways of crime push Batman, and everyone around him, to the limits.
The entire cast of the prequel, Batman Begins, returns for The Dark Knight with the exception of Maggie Gyllenhaal, who takes over the role of Rachel Dawes. In a cast this brilliant, it’s very difficult to stand out. However, Heath Ledger manages to do so. His last full movie before his death, Ledger brings a demonic, horror-driven nature to The Joker. The perfect makeup is replaced with that of a chipped and battered house. Instead of Jack Nicholson’s plastic surgery gone wrong, the reason for Heath’s constant smile is self-inflicted scars, scars for which he has many different stories.
The appeal of The Joker is that he has no past, no rhyme or reason for doing the things he does. He simply loves anarchy and wants to drag down the infrastructure of Gotham City. This includes influencing Harvey Dent’s transformation to the revenge-motivated Two Face and killing top-level officials. The viewer yearns for Ledger to be on screen, and although Nolan knows this, he doesn’t overdo The Joker’s onscreen presence. Through cunning plans, exploding hospitals, and dead mob bosses, Heath Ledger’s Joker goes down as one of the most memorable villains in cinema history and will prove to be Ledger’s defining public moment.
Riding on the back of Ledger’s performance, The Dark Knight produces some of the most exciting action sequences, heartbreaking moments, and terrifying chaos ever seen in a superhero movie. Scratch that – in any movie. Nolan forces one to feel for the people of Gotham as they become prey to a maniac. There is no compromising, no negotiating, for The Joker only wishes to watch Gotham City, and Batman, burn. While he does, best superhero movie of all-time plays out.