Oh, the Dark Knight trilogy. For quite a long run, it was seen as the gold standard for superhero films. Completely eschewing the campier images of the world’s greatest detective previously splashed in theaters by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, Christopher Nolan reintroduced the character to movie audiences in 2005. Batman Begins took moviegoers by surprise, retelling the hero’s origin with Christian Bale at the helm portraying Bruce Wayne. It seemed a gamble given the completely different direction, but it turned out to be a success. Nolan went on to produce two sequels, with the entire score of films being dubbed the Dark Knight trilogy.
Its success was simply unparalleled at the time, but quickly overtaken by the multiple origin stories and crossover events that comprised the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now that DC is getting its own foothold in the shared movie hero game (dubbed the “DC Extended Universe”), it’s tough to look back at the Nolan films. The trio of films were simply hyped because audiences didn’t know anything better was possible. Instead of bolstering Batman for a huge endeavor in a shared world, the Dark Knight trilogy short shifted the character in more ways than one.
CAUTION: MULTIPLE SPOILERS FOR THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY AHEAD.
15. MOST VILLAINS WERE GUTTED
It’s hard to argue that one of the most memorable things about the Dark Knight trilogy was the amazing incarnation of the Joker played by Heath Ledger. He was smartly depicted as a psychopathic gangster with few qualms about dragging people into his own madness. His stint in The Dark Knight was iconic and an instant hit with fans.
Unfortunately, other villains featured in the films didn’t get such a high-grade treatment. Jonathan Crane’s debut was overshadowed by Ra’s al Ghul, but the demon’s head was stripped of his signature mysticism. Talia al Ghul was depicted as a half-baked femme fatale with an even less-baked evil scheme to destroy Gotham. Bane was reduced to a stocky dude with the most non-threatening voice ever and Two-Face was a whiny Terminator double. For all the panache the Joker had, Batman’s other villains were poorly delivered in every Nolan film.
14. GAVE BATMAN FLIMSY LOVE INTERESTS
Part of Batman’s long comic book history was that he had an assortment of significant others that impacted him greatly. Most notable of which was Talia al Ghul, with whom he had a son, and Selina Kyle (a.k.a. Catwoman). The previous films tried to replicate these great loves of his, but were hampered by changing actors, directorial visions and the like.
The Dark Knight trilogy had three films to dive into a proper Bruce Wayne romance, but instead introduced a completely original and entirely uninteresting character named Rachel Dawes. Dawes was written poorly, seeming more like a scolding stepsister than potential girlfriend material to the hero. After her story was plodded out for a movie and a half, she was properly fridged and the trilogy jumped ship to using Selina Kyle in an equally uninteresting foray. The Nolanverse did nothing but stunt Bruce’s romances in the worst way.