It's a widely held opinion that The Dark Knight is the greatest Batman movie of all time. Many would take the sentiment further and say the film may be the very best superhero film ever made. However, time provides perspective, and there's an argument to be made that The Dark Knight is overrated. Sure, Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker will go down in history as one of the all-time great film performances, and rightfully so, but his exceptional performance masks the film's many problems.
All of Christopher Nolan's Batman films have merit in some form or another. The Dark Knight Rises is largely considered the weakest of the three, but it's worth revisiting the first two installments to compare them. If one takes a moment to truly consider the evidence, there's much to suggest that Batman Begins is better than The Dark Knight. Repeat viewings reveal that The Dark Knight features a number of often overlooked problems, whereas Batman Begins holds up among ALL Batman movies, not to mention grows better with age.
Upon re-examination, it can be argued that while The Dark Knight is no doubt the more popular film, Batman Begins is a stronger all-around film and may be the most underrated Batman movie simply due to the success of its sequel. There are plenty of reasons to consider Batman Begins as the seminal film about the Caped Crusader, from its superior action to its more atmospheric depiction of Gotham City. Here is a list of reasons why Batman Begins is actually superior to its sequel, The Dark Knight.
5. Batman Begins Embraces The Hero's Comic Origins
Batman Begins owns up to its source material. It elevates Batman by making him human, explores what made him the way he is, and grounds him. All while still retaining the pulp and other-worldly nature of the comics that helped Batman stand apart from other superheroes for so long.
The Dark Knight, on the other hand, seems embarrassed to be a comic book adaptation at all. The second film was described as the "serious" one and not just a comic book movie. It feels like a different franchise. The film wants to be realistic, making the Joker extra scary and realistically psychotic, but also tries to incorporate more comic book-style elements like Two-Face and Bat-gadgets that fall entirely flat in the film's new context.Is this convincing?
6. Batman Is Depicted As The Genius Detective He Is
The World's Greatest Detective has yet to be the title for a Batman film. Despite the character first appearing in Detective Comics, filmmakers shy away from portraying this side of him. Nolan also doesn't skimp on Batman's more interesting features, such as his hand-to-hand combat skills, but Batman Begins actually embraces the planning and investigating that Batman is forced to do to protect his city. From tracking down criminals for information to looking into Scarecrow's dealings at Arkham, Bruce Wayne was a detective for once.
While he does some research in The Dark Knight, none of it makes much sense. A sequence where Batman uses a chaingun to reverse engineer a shattered bullet in order to find a fingerprint makes even less sense than where, exactly, his black eye-makeup disappears to whenever he takes off his mask.Is this convincing?
7. The Bat-Gadgets Make A Lot More Sense
Batman has had some ludicrous gadgets over the years. Thanks to Batman Begins, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) presents Bruce Wayne with tech that holds understandable real-life value, from the military body armor re-purposed into the Batsuit to the cowl ears ordered online and assembled by hand to the batarangs sharpened in Bruce's own basement. There are practical explanations for the hero's gadgets in the first movie that are altogether missing in not only The Dark Knight, but nearly all superhero films.
In The Dark Knight, bizarre and over-the-top tech takes the place of useful and understandable tools. For instance, a scanner Batman uses to scan a pile of money, a Skyhook which is a self-inflating balloon line that is grabbed by a passing plane (based on real-life CIA tech that was rendered outdated when hovering aircraft were invented). Other badly conceived tools in The Dark Knight: sonar vision with the god-like ability to see literally all of Gotham, and the Batpod, a motorcycle hidden inside the Tumbler. All of them look cool, but don't act as extensions of Batman's humanity, just flamboyant representations of Bruce Wayne's money.Is this convincing?
8. The Dark Knight Feels Cold Next To Batman Begins's Relatable EmotionsVideo: YouTube
"Why do we fall, sir? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up." Batman Begins is a movie fueled by emotion. Bruce's relationships, first with his father and then with his mentor Alfred, are genuinely touching. Those relationships add a warmth and depth that flesh out not just Bruce Wayne, but the film as a whole.
The Dark Knight, while tense and shocking, is a cold and calculated movie. Even Rachel's death feels empty as the characters feel her loss more than the audience. This stems from the core thematic differences of the two films. Batman Begins is about fear, a relatable and visceral emotion, whereas The Dark Knight is about chaos. It's a more cerebral and philosophical film by design, but suffers from a lack of heartfelt connection. A connection that makes Batman Begins the better film in the franchise.Is this convincing?