The Dark Knight ★★★★★

The Dark Knight is largely a series of confounding ethical dilemmas, a constant threat to the morality of it's protagonists; Dent Gordon and Batman. Within the wilderness of skyscrapers, Nolan deconstructs the myth of Batman, prodding it and exposing it's flaws. The Joker isn't so much a villain as he is a catalyst for chaos, laying bare the corruption within our government and police, exposing the fallacy, the fragility of society. He humiliates the numerous forces for good in the world, asserting their inherent hypocrisy has ruined any virtue they may have had. The dialogue is like poetry, outlining the motivations, intentions and failings of characters beautifully. The film is largely fueled by the friction these two characters have, both twisted by cruel childhoods, trying to come to grips with that cruelty with acts of good, and acts of evil.

This is the crux of their dynamic, the cosmic push and pull that is their mutual dependence on one another. The Dark Knight, like the greatest Batman stories, is at heart a meditation on the distinction between Joker and Batman. Both men with a rigid sense of morality and justice, traversing the city of Gotham in a constant pursuit to assert it. The incorruptibility of good, the remoteness of evil. The razor-thin line between anarchy and civility, the idea that horrific events only rouse us when they violate our personal space, our expected scheme for life. With The Dark Knight, Nolan stretched the Batman character into a broad canvass for profound human emotion, holding a stirring mirror up to it's audience, forcing them to consider their role as a citizen, as a human being. Ultimately, the film's evils triumph, but a shred of hope is offered. An isolated humanity may be weak, susceptible to corruption, to being tipped into the abyss. But in a shared humanity, a society of, as the film states, people who are willing to believe in good, to strive for truth, justice and a fundamental compassion, there is hope. Eight years later, Nolan's masterpiece is still head and shoulders superior to anything within the superhero genre created since, because it's purpose transcended it's characters and it's source material. Instead it dwells in a world of moral ambiguity, a firm and resounding critique of the masks we all wear, exuding the profundity only great stories can strive to.

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