Christopher Nolan was a British indie filmmaker when they scored Batman Begins. It was a movie that didn't have a ton of buzz before it came out, but immediately thrust heroes back into the spotlight and was lauded for how realistic it treated Batman.
There have been lots of conversations this week about whether or not Batman kills - so I wanted to return to what I believe is the best distillation of the hero and study the screenplay that made people take comic book movies more seriously. So today we're going to go over the Dark Knight script PDF, do some Dark Knight script analysis, and learn what it's like to write a blockbuster movie.
So before we get started...
The Dark Knight Script: Batman
Let's start with the protagonist of The Dark Knight script. Batman is effectively a mercenary in these movies. He works outside the law, and in this movie, he's dealing with a lot of guilt. Innocent people are trying to take up his mantle and some are being killed. Batman's character arc is trying to retire in this movie. He doesn't want to do this anymore.
This is a new and unique take on the hero. It sets this Batman movie apart from every single one that came before it, and it creates a depth an empathy for us. We understand Batman and his motives, we know he wants to leave this job behind and is hoping that that day will come soon. It's very lonely being Batman.
Not to get overly into the Dark Knight script analysis, but the other thing that sets this script apart from other blockbusters is that the character of Batman has to struggle with Bruce Wayne. Sure, the Joker is the main bad guy in this story, but the real heart of The Dark Knight script is Batman and Bruce duking it out for their right to exist. This internal struggle is also echoed in the people of Gotham city. We see their need and want for heroes, but in the last set piece, we see how quick they are to damn other people to save themselves.
This juxtaposition not only centers Batman as the people's champ, but it creates a conundrum for Bruce Wayne. If the people only know how to act heroically because they have a Batman, and the symbol Batman was going to use to replace himself is now evil, how can he ever retire?
The answer, of course, is that Batman must retire ignobly. Taking the heat for one man's actions.
As he runs off into the darkness at the end of the movie he knows that the people of Gotham now know how to act because Harvey Dent showed them, but the cowl and mantle of the bat must be hung up with disgrace.
That pain allows Batman to retire, but it's too late. Losing his one love makes retiring worthless because Bruce lost his reason to live.
Super downer ending for Batman!
The Dark Knight Script: Joker
The antagonist in The Dark Knight script is The Joker. Thought some excellent character development, we don't know much about the Joker, but we can infer a lot. He knows about weapons, he's a liar, he has a masterplan, and he's got a code and his catchphrase..."Why so serious?"
What sets the Joker apart and makes him a memorable villain is that he's an agent of chaos. His entire mission is to destroy how we think of heroes. For a movie that wants to be realistic, this is an interesting stance. The villain not only wants to win, but he wants to destroy the notion of altruism and the inherent goodness of people.
What's crazy is that...we see it happen. As I mentioned in my previous Dark Knight script analysis point above, Batman almost becomes a pawn in the Joker's game.
The entire movie is a deconstruction of what we believe about heroes, right, wrong, and up until the boat scene, it appears as if the Joker has won.
This all gets set up early in the fundraising party scene. The Joker needs to destroy Dent, and then to chip away. The crazy thing is if Batman didn't stop the Joker at this party, then Dent might have died, but Rachel would still be alive. The series of events that happens inside Gotham after this party is just an elaborate recalculation.
And he pays the price.
The Dark Knight Script Interrogation Scene
One scene I want to analyze in the movie is the Dark Knight interrogation scene. For me, this is the distillation of everything great about this movie. Two characters are facing off with differing agendas. Batman needs answers; the Joker needs to distract Batman. This is part of the Joker's plan. He's making a hero go too far.
He wants to make a hero kill.
Batman doesn't kill, grow up.
It doesn't take much more Dark Knight script analysis to get into the black and white version of this world. We are so used to characters believing in right and wrong; we get confused when superheroes need to operate in the grey area. Here, Batman is forced out of his comfort zone, and he has to keep himself from going too far.
As this scene continues, each character comes to a full understanding of who the other one is. Batman finally sees the point of Alfred's story about the robber in the jungles. And the Joker gets why people are inspired by The Batman.
Each man loses in this scene. The Batman falls into the Joker's plot, but the Joker also gives up something here. While it's hard to tell, he learns that Batman will be incorruptible. But at this point in the story, Batman isn't the star. Harvey Dent is. So, the Joker recalculates his plan based off who lives and who dies in his plot to take down Harvey, and thus ruin the reputation and mantle of the Bat.
What's next? Read the No Country For Old Men Script!
There were two competing films shooting in Texas at the same time in the summer of 2006. No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood were shot less than 50 miles away from each other. And legend has it No Country had to shut down shooting for one day due to the smoke from the scene where the oil rig caught fire in There Will Be Blood. While we already covered the There Will Be Blood script, I want to spend today going over No Country For Old Men's screenplay.
We'll cover the opening, ending, themes, and some of the standout dialogue from No Country for Old Men. So click the link and let's go!