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The Dark Knight: Creating the Ultimate Antagonist

Linked by Paul Ciano on August 28, 2016

Lessons from the Screenplay:

When I think about why the Dark Knight works so well, the answer always seems clear, the Joker. There have been psychopathic villains before, other antagonists with elaborate, twisting plans, but there’s something special about the Joker.


The Joker turns Batman’s strength into a weakness. He can do this because he doesn’t fear death. In fact, he wants Batman to kill him, because he knows Batman’s morality takes the form of one rule: he doesn’t kill people. So the more chaos the Joker causes, and the more people he kills, the further he reveals that Batman’s moral code can also be a weakness, because the only way to truly stop the Joker, is to kill him, something Batman can never do.


In choosing Rachel, Batman reveals what he’s unwilling to sacrifice for the greater good of Gotham, the limit to his resolve. But with the Joker, things are never that simple. Throughout the film, the Joker forces Batman into choices that reveal who and what he cares about when the pressure is really on. Batman is forced to face his true self.


They are both competing for the soul of Gotham, and only one of them can win.


Under the pressure of the antagonist, Batman learns that alone, he does have limits, but with the right allies, they can overcome any challenge. Batman’s resolve deepens because of the Joker. And in the battle for Gotham’s soul, he learns that he’s able to make the difficult choices no one else can. Batman becomes the Dark Knight because of the Joker.


The Dark Knight shines as an example of what happens when the forces of antagonism grow from the protagonist, when they’re inextricably linked, when they’re two sides of the same coin.


It looks like Kaptain Kristian has some competition.

Paul Ciano

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