The Darker Knight

by MW Cook

First of all, amen.
Second of all, there are many spoilers here, so stop reading if you don’t want to know the end!

I mean it, seriously, don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie yet. And if you don’t intend to watch it, watch it anyway! The hype was right.

Okay, here we go.

Dark Knight was probably one of the best made movies I’ve seen in years. I watched it twice, mostly because of The Joker.

He was such an interesting character. And I think he was pretty much right in the wager he made with Batman. Remember when he said that he’d be able to turn the citizens against themselves? Batman figured that when the two ferries didn’t blow each other up he had been proved wrong about that. Batman figured that this was the indisputable evidence that the citizens of Gotham were basically good and the Joker was alone in his evil. But I think Batman was wrong.

The one ferry took a vote. Something like 75% of the people were for blowing up the other ship. But why didn’t they actually go through with it? Not, I think, because of their high morals, but because of their weak wills. No one was willing to press the button. Most of them wanted the other boat destroyed. But they just didn’t have the spine to do it. The Joker was right about their morality, he just overestimated their resolve. So if the movie was trying to prove altruism, I think it missed the mark.

We can see this with Harvey Dent’s fall, too. The greatest force of goodness was completely corrupted and became indistinguishable from the Joker himself. And his fall would have destroyed Gotham’s fragile morals along with his own had it not been for the fragile lie that covered it. So Gotham’s sanity, peace and safety depends on a lie about the Batman.

Maybe I’m digging too deep here, but I see this all as a commentary about self-image and self-esteem. We are Gotham. Mostly bad, but still with a stroke of good. And the majority of our bad is a sort of socially-acceptable bad, so it hardly matters. A few parts of our personality are completely screwed, like the Joker. So as we look at ourselves if we do not have a scapegoat to blame some of our wildest taints on, like the Batman, our whole system will collapse, because we will learn that we are not basically good, as we had thought.

I guess I’m just thinking out loud here. I loved the film, wonderful story, deep lessons. Watch it!