Why Does 'The Dark Knight' Remain the Gold Standard for Multi-villain Superhero Films?

Why Does 'The Dark Knight' Remain the Gold Standard for Multi-villain Superhero Films? ...

Superhero films are one of the most famous achievements of the 21st century, but as all comic book lovers know, a hero is only as good as their villain. As a result, many of their live-action films have employed a wide assortment of said villains as part of their ensemble casts, but few of them have done it well in practice.

All of them would have benefited from a tighter script, but when faced with the difficult task of balancing studio executives and still keeping fans happy, such considerations tend to fall by the wayside. This has resulted in some of comic book superhero films being sidelined in their own films, wasting the opportunity to introduce them to general audiences.

Resisting the Temptation of Multiple Villains

The Dark Knight, a sequel to Batman, enthused Christopher Nolan as one of his generation's defining filmmakers, establishing the framework that all subsequent superhero films have either deliberately aped or purposefully avoided. Its a common pick for the greatest superhero ever made and proved that even a story about someone who dresses like a bat and fights crime can be told with a level of skill comparable to Hollywood's creme de la creme.

Batman and Joker Battle for Harvey Dent

The basic narrative feels like it's straight from the pages of a comic book. The two opposing ideologies of Batman and the Joker do battle for the fate of Gotham City, but the genius of The Dark Knight is the inclusion of Harvey Dent, who serves as the city's newly elected district attorney; Batman wishing he would bring peace in ways his previous form of vigilantism could never, thus, becoming a criminal.

The first time we see him disfigured, it's a shocking moment as he launches his deadly one-man assault against the perpetrators of Rachel's murder. Just a few scenes earlier he was Gotham's golden child, willingly throwing himself into the firing line to assist the Jokers' capture, and now he's deciding whether or not to die on the basis of a coin. However, the subsequent justice system also involves splintering into the shadows, much like in The Dark

All the Heroes Are Changed

The three greatest heroes in Gotham are at the start, Batman, Harvey Dent, and Commissioner Gordon. All three have dipped their toes across the line they swore they would never cross, and all have received a punishment as a result. In the last time we see Joker laughing maniacally, his actions have left him with wounds that will never heal.

Joker and Dent Created Each Other

The Jokers' continued attempts to disrupt Gotham and the Two-Faces' vengeance against the ones who murdered Rachel are the main plotlines in the film. Because one is directly responsible for the other's creation, it never feels like two separate films competing for attention.

Nolan frequently cuts back to scenes of Dent falling further into depravity in the film climax, where the Joker attempts to persuade passengers on a pair of ferries to blow up another. Any chance of his redemption has long vanished by the time the ferries catch up to him.

Two Is the Perfect Number

Nolan kept The Dark Knight to a minimum of two villains, although that would have enabled him to include virtually anyone he desired, he avoids overloading it with old characters. Even when he is referred to as Mr. Reese (Joshua Harto), a tech genius whose name sounds suspiciously similar to mysteries when he is referred to as his eventual comic-book counterpart, leaving him as an original character benefits the film immensely.

Compare this to the way other superhero films use it, and you see how impressive The Dark Knights structure is. For example, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 includes three of Spider-Man's major villains with plotlines that are entirely separate for most of the film, while also allowing explicit references to a multitude of other characters. Both compliment the other, the key component that makes the film successful.

Although both rogues galleries lacked the finesse of The Dark Knight, such things are often difficult to pronounce.