Batman Begins is good, but The Dark Knight is epic perfection. Now that you’ve read my review, I thought I’d simplify things and break down just exactly what it is that makes The Dark Knight so much better than Christopher Nolan’s first caped crusader effort. 5, spoiler-free reasons:
5. More James Gordon
Commissioner Gordon has always gotten the short end of the stick in every Batman movie. In Batman Begins, Nolan attempted to give him a personality and actually went through the trouble to cast Gary Oldman to play him. But Gordon never really felt as fully formed as he does in The Dark Knight, where he not only gets more screentime, but gets a more complex plotline. It’s great to have more Gordon, especially when he’s played by Gary Oldman.
4. Origin Story Free
Let’s face it, as good as Batman Begins was, the origin story has been done to death. The real fun of Batman isn’t in finding out where he came from but watching him stalking through Gotham City fully formed, going toe to toe with the most psychotic superhero rogues gallery ever assembled. With all the training montages out of the way, The Dark Knight is able to get down to the business of delivering the real Bat.
3. Better Action
Chris Nolan tried, but there’s no getting around some of the uneven action sequences in Batman Begins. The final battle between Christian Bale and Liam Neeson in particular suffers from extreme-shaky cam syndrome. Most of the time, we had no idea what was going on, or even who was winning. The Dark Knight solves all of that by delivering simpler, quicker, more brutal fight sequences. Maybe Nolan still has no business directing the Jet Li film, but who wants him to? He’s rounded out the awkward corners of Batman Begins’ fight scenes and delivered hard hits which are only made even harder by the philosophical underpinnings of his film. Watching Batman stalk through the darkness taking out two-bit thugs with vicious roundhouse punches is now a thing of beauty.
2. Less Bruce Wayne, More Batman
It’s Batman that’s the real person, and Bruce Wayne is the alter-ego. Yet in Batman Begins we spent a lot of time with Batman out of his costume and playing the playboy bit. The Dark Knight gets over that, and focuses more than ever on keeping Bale inside his costume, and growling his way through Gotham’s underworld. Sure we still get plenty of Bruce Wayne, but with his crime-fighting skills now fully formed, it’s Batman, not the playboy son of a billionaire who is the real focus of Nolan’s second film. Hell yeah. Keep him in the cape and I’m a happy man.
1. Better Villains
Batman has always had the best rogues gallery of any superhero character, and The Dark Knight delivers not only his best arch enemy in The Joker, but another of his most interesting baddies. No, I’m not spoiling that for you here. Much as I love Liam Neeson, he just can’t compare to Heath Ledger’s iconic, amazing, mind-bending performance as The Joker. Batman Begins was, as the title suggests, primarily about Batman and his beginnings. Most of the film is spent with Bats stalking boring gangsters and figuring out how to jump from roof to roof. This time, the villains are unleashed, and the coolest bad guys in the comics universe are better than they’ve ever been in any other incarnation. The greatness of Batman has always been tied into his villains are held up as a mirror reflection of who and what he is. The Dark Knight does that in a way Batman Begins simply couldn’t, and that alone makes this a much better film than Batman Begins could ever have hoped to have been.