In Sir Michael Caine's opinion, Heath Ledger beat the odds and topped Jack Nicholson's Joker from Batman (1989): "Jack was like a clown figure, benign but wicked, maybe a killer old uncle. He could be funny and make you laugh. Heath's gone in a completely different direction to Jack, he's like a really scary psychopath. He's a lovely guy and his Joker is going to be a hell of a revelation in this picture." Caine bases this belief on a scene where the Joker pays a visit to Bruce Wayne's penthouse. He'd never met Ledger before, so when Ledger arrived and performed he gave Caine such a fright, he forgot his lines.
Heath Ledger directed both homemade videos that the Joker sends to GCN himself. The first video involving the fake Batman, was done under Christopher Nolan's supervision. Nolan thought Ledger had done so well with that sequence, he felt there was no need for him to be there when it came time to film the scene where reporter Mike Engel reads the Joker's statement. He put his trust in Ledger and let him do whatever he wanted, ultimately pleased with the result, after he'd seen the outcome.
In preparation for his role as The Joker, Heath Ledger hid away in a motel room for about six weeks. During this extended stay of seclusion, Ledger delved deep into the psychology of the character. He devoted himself to developing The Joker's every tic, namely the voice and that sadistic-sounding laugh (for the voice, Ledger's goal was to create a tone that didn't echo the work Jack Nicholson did in his 1989 performance as the Joker). Ledger's interpretation of The Joker's appearance was primarily based on the chaotic, disheveled look of punk rocker Sid Vicious combined with the psychotic mannerisms of Malcolm McDowell's character, Alex De Large, from A Clockwork Orange (1971).
Heath Ledger's sudden death from drug toxicity on January 22, 2008 prompted immediate speculation over the film's state and Ledger's disposition prior to death. Soon after Ledger's death was announced, Warner Brothers issued a statement that verified that Ledger had finished all of his scenes in principal photography, as well as post-production fulfillments (i.e., looping), thus making The Joker his final, completed film role. Rumors abounded that playing the intense role had taken its toll on Ledger's mental state, causing him to become depressed and take a wrong combination of drugs as a result. However, his family has since put such rumors to rest, by stating that far from being depressed, he had a lot of fun playing the role. Ledger did suffer from insomnia throughout his life, and would often take sleeping pills together with other prescription drugs (something his sister had actually warned against the night before his death). Unfortunately, the mix he took on that night proved to be a fatal combination.
While the movie was filming a chase scene on Lake Street, the Chicago Police Department received several calls from concerned citizens stating that the police were involved in a vehicle pursuit with a dark vehicle of unknown make or model.
In the documentary "I Am Heath Ledger", Ledger's vocal coach on the film Gerry Grennell stated that Heath had to continuously lick his lips due to his prosthetic coming off whenever he spoke. He eventually made this a tic of the character as he was filming.
Trouble arose during a PR campaign before the movie's release, when a website related to the film, sent out several cakes purportedly from The Joker, containing a cell phone inside which made the cake vibrate, and had wires sticking out, making the cake look like a bomb. One such news station, which received one of the cakes, believed it to be an actual terrorist act, and the entire building had to be evacuated.
The character of Reese is an allusion to The Riddler, who attempts to reveal the identity of Batman. Much like Edward Nygma whose name sounds like "enigma" (as in E. Nygma), Mr. Reese sounds like "mysteries".
Despite endless speculation on which actor had been chosen to portray The Joker, Heath Ledger had always been among Christopher Nolan's foremost choices for the role. Ledger and Nolan had met during the Batman Begins (2005) casting process for the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, but Nolan and Heath agreed Ledger was wrong for the part. When casting the part of the Joker, Nolan met with several other actors before Ledger, but found them reluctant to take the role because of the popularity of Jack Nicholson's performance in the original Batman (1989). Upon meeting with Ledger again, Nolan recognized him as the perfect choice for the part. When asked the reason for this unexpected casting, Nolan simply replied, "Because he's fearless."
Cillian Murphy reprises his role as Dr. Jonathan Crane a.k.a. Scarecrow from Batman Begins (2005) in this film. This makes him the first actor to reprise the role of a Batman villain in the whole film franchise. He also reprises his role in a cameo in The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
Blood is only ever seen three times on-screen: on the face of the civilian Batman that the Joker hangs, on Harvey's pillow in the hospital, and on Batman's arm due to the dog attacking him; most of the violence either occurs off-screen or is obscured by camera angles.
The Batman theme is heard only twice in the film, as composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard decided that a heroic theme that a viewer could hum would overlook the complexity and darkness of the character. Hearing the tune only twice would create what Zimmer calls "a musical foreshadowing."
According to Christopher Nolan, Bruce Wayne's reasons for needing a new Batsuit (to be faster and more agile) were, in fact, the real reasons why Nolan wanted the Batsuit to be redesigned for this film.
The infamous growl performed by Christian Bale was much rougher in this film than Batman Begins (2005), and has been parodied countless times due to its extreme nature, however, the common misconception is that Christian Bale was fully responsible for this voice. The real voice, during filming, was more toned down, and then heightened to a rougher, grittier vibe during post-production under the decision of Christopher Nolan.
Heath Ledger posthumously won a total of 32 Best Actor in a Supporting Role awards for his work on this film, including the Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG, and Critics' Choice award. The only awards, for which he was nominated, but didn't win, were the Satellite Award (which went to Michael Shannon for Revolutionary Road (2008)) and the London Film Critics' Circle Award for actor of the year (which went to Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler (2008)). Michael Shannon and Mickey Rourke would later go on to play comic book villains in films of their own; Shannon as General Zod in Man of Steel (2013), and Rourke as Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2 (2010).
Aaron Eckhart described his portrayal of Harvey Dent as simultaneously coming from, and being apart from, the same world as Batman (Dent is the white knight of Gotham, as opposed to the Dark Knight). His challenge was "looking for the similarities and the tension between the two; to find what's similar to Batman, and then what's opposite to him." Eckhart prepared for his role by studying split personalities.
David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan collaborated on the story of the film. The script itself was written by Nolan and his brother Jonathan Nolan. After watching 'The Dark Knight', Goyer stated "I can't believe my name is on a movie this good".
Many believe that one of the key reasons why the Academy moved from five Best Picture nominations to ten, was because two of the best received films of the year - The Dark Knight (2008) and WALL·E (2008) - were not among the five nominees.
Christian Bale admitted he did not pack on as much muscle weight for this film as he did for Batman Begins (2005), in part due to keeping with the new Batsuit design, which is leaner and more flexible.
The bus crashing backwards into the bank in the opening sequence was much harder to pull off than was anticipated. The bus had to be taken apart and reassembled inside the building (a disused post office), concealed behind a large false wall, and then propelled backwards with an air cannon.
Aaron Eckhart spoke about a unique experience he had with Heath Ledger during the hospital scene. He said that before lines were exchanged, Ledger would just walk around, in character, mumbling to himself in an odd manner. All Eckhart could do at the time, was just watch him while still in character. This went on for several minutes, until Ledger got close to him. Eckhart felt compelled at this point to fiercely raise his hand up. Immediately, Ledger grabbed Eckhart's raised hand in an equally matched fierce manner. When the scene was over, Ledger, now out of character, told Eckhart "That's what acting's all about."
Elaborate, interactive marketing campaigns were launched in the months leading up to the release of this film. One of these was an event at the 2007 San Diego Comic-con called Why So Serious, which involved fans following clues hidden around the city. The legions of Joker-painted fans ended up congregating in the street across from the convention center, where one of their numbers was welcomed into a black Escalade (with Gotham license plates) that had just pulled up. After a moment the fan started screaming and the SUV sped away. Later that day, a Gotham City newspaper was circulated reporting that a man believed to be the Joker was found beaten to death. Included were crime scene photos of the fan who had gotten into the Escalade, and a mention that he was found with a playing card in his hand, on which was scribbled "See you in December."
Bruce Wayne's penthouse was actually shot on the ground floor of an office building in downtown Chicago. During the daytime, the same space was re-dressed and used for Harvey Dent's press conference scenes.
Bruce Wayne wears a new Batsuit in the film. This Batsuit was an improvement on the outfit from Batman Begins (2005), and made Christian Bale more comfortable and agile in his performance. It was constructed from two hundred unique pieces of rubber, fiberglass, metallic mesh, and nylon (producing an impression of sophisticated technology), with elastic banding added for tightening the costume to fit Bale. The gauntlets had their razors made retractable and able to be fired. The suit's cowl was based on a motorcycle helmet and separated from the neck piece, allowing Bale to move his head left/right/up/down, and comes equipped with white eye lenses for when Batman turns on Bat-sonar.
The Joker make-up was composed of three pieces of stamped silicone, which took less than an hour to apply to Heath Ledger on each day of shooting. Ledger described it as "new technology which is much quicker to apply than regular prosthetics"; he felt like he was not wearing any make-up at all.
In the film, Bruce asks Lucius Fox for a new Batman suit with a head piece that is 'easier to look around in'. This is a comical reference to older Batman films in which the actors playing Batman wore a suit that had a solid head piece covering the head, neck and shoulders. This made it impossible for the actors to turn their heads and instead had to turn their entire torso to look at their targets.
Unlike his counterpart in both the comics and Batman (1989), the Joker in this film does not have his hair and flesh permanently bleached by toxic waste. His trademark grin was never definitively identified in the comics as a disfigurement. However, its appearance here, as scars deliberately carved into his flesh, echo the character's original inspiration, the character Gwynplaine from Victor Hugo's novel The Man Who Laughs (1928).
In one draft of the script, a reference to Robin, being related to Rachel Dawes, was considered. The character of Dick Grayson was not explicitly mentioned, however, Rachel Dawes is revealed as being a relative of the Grayson family. Christopher Nolan had it removed, because he didn't want to build hopes up about Robin appearing in a future film.
While filming in Chicago, Wanted (2008) was the neighboring production, and Morgan Freeman worked concurrently on both films. At one point, Wanted comic book writer Mark Millar visited the set but without permission. The security and Lauren Shuler Donner (who also visited the set at that time) caught Millar sitting on the Batpod. Millar was escorted away from the set.
Along with Spider-Man 3 (2007) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006), this film reached the one hundred million dollar mark the fastest, in only two days. Since it had a larger opening day than those two blockbusters, it reached the milestone even sooner.
Jerry Robinson, one of the original creators of the Joker back in 1940, was hired as a consultant on the film (the Joker is to be portrayed according to his first two appearances in the comics, which Robinson was involved in). His "Batman" co-creator Bob Kane had earlier been hired as a consultant for Batman (1989).
Aaron Eckhart is the third actor to play Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face in a feature film. Billy Dee Williams played a pre-disfigured Dent in Batman (1989), but he didn't become Two-Face until Batman Forever (1995), where Tommy Lee Jones took over the role (in that film, Dent's transformation was briefly shown in a flashback where Batman tried to save him from Boss Maroni, and Harvey was already Two-Face at the beginning). This is the first Batman film to depict Two-Face's origin, starting with Harvey Dent as Gotham's district attorney, and eventually becoming Two-Face.
A video game adaptation was in production, but was canceled due to technical difficulties in development. Though the game was picked up by British game developing company Rocksteady and reworked into what would be Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009).
When it was announced that the Joker would be main antagonist in the film, it was rumored that Paul Bettany would be playing the part. However, when Heath Ledger was cast, Christopher Nolan came under criticism from the media, as they thought Ledger was completely wrong for the role. These concerns were quickly silenced when the movie came out, as Ledger received universal praise for his performance.
The IMAX cameras used in filming, proved to be problematic for the crew. Dialogue that was recorded on film, was very noisy, so it had to be replaced during post-production. Also, the cameras were so heavy, that special mounts were created to support the weight. Finally, IMAX cameras took five days to process film negatives, as opposed to conventional dailies.
Held the record for reaching the five hundred million dollar mark the fastest, after 45 days. The former record holder was Titanic (1997) (98 days). It has since been surpassed by Avatar (2009) (32 days), The Avengers (2012) (23 days), Jurassic World (2015) (seventeen days), and Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) (ten days). As of December 2016, these are the only six movies to have reached this milestone.
Matt Damon was offered the part of Harvey Dent, but had to turn it down because of a schedule conflict with Invictus (2009), which also starred Morgan Freeman. Invictus (2009) was directed by Clint Eastwood, who coincidentally was considered for playing Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face in the 1960's Batman television series.
According to the British Board of Film Classification (or BBFC), this film received the most complaints of the decade from British viewers. It was the subject of 42 percent of all letters received by the BBFC in 2008.
When Harvey Dent is being transferred, his holding vehicle is attacked by The Joker with various guns. One gun is an RPG and a SWAT member is heard asking if it is a bazooka - which is a signature weapon of The Joker's girlfriend/partner in crime - Harley Quinn.
Along with Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Glory (1989), Crimson Tide (1995), and Independence Day (1996), this is one of only five films whose purely orchestral soundtracks won the Grammy Award for Best Score despite not being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score.
The false title given to the film during production, Rory's First Kiss, was named after Christopher Nolan's son, Rory. When filming began in April 2007, the production was code-named to thwart onlookers and trespassers. All over downtown Chicago, fliers were posted with this pseudonym (alongside an "RFK" logo) and also listed the address for the film's production offices.
Shortly before the film's DVD debut, Warner Brothers were under legal action by the city of Batman, Turkey (pronounced "but-mun") in November 2008. Even though it wasn't used in the title, the character name of Batman was considered an infringement.
The lenses that cover Batman's eyes during the hostage rescue scene, give him a look that's close to the comic and animated adaptations, where Batman's eyes are often visible in the dark, while the rest of his body is blackened out.
Near the beginning of the movie, there is a scene where Batman pauses at the top of a parking garage, looking down a spiraling entrance ramp at an escaping van and planning the exact time to jump. Christian Bale does this exact same thing with a chainsaw in a spiraling staircase in American Psycho (2000).
Batman leaps from the roof of Two IFC, the tallest building in Hong Kong at the time, at over 400 meters. Some time later, he appears to be gliding down to the same rooftop. His target is in fact One IFC, which is about half as tall and has a similar ornate crown.
Chinese actor Edison Chen can be seen escorting Lucius Fox from the helicopter into the building, and later, when the police go in for the raid at Lau's office. The Hong Kong scene contains a scripted set piece where Batman drops into the harbor. However, it was scrapped, because environmental officials found out that the water was polluted.
With 4,366 locations, this film held the record for opening in the most venues on its release date. (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007) opened in 4,362 movie houses the previous summer.) It held the record until the release of Iron Man 2 (2010), which opened in 4,380 theaters.
For the first time in feature filmmaking, IMAX cameras were utilized. Christopher Nolan had wanted to shoot in the IMAX format for years, thus using this film as his opportunity to do so. Six major action-heavy sequences, along with various high-altitude shots, were filmed on the IMAX ratio. (These sequences are available on the Bonus Disc of the 2-Disc DVD Edition.)
On Thanksgiving weekend, 2007, fake four-page tabloid-size Gotham Times newspapers were distributed at various public events. Headlined "City at War - Batman Saves Entire Family," every article teased events in the film, and everything in the handout was geared toward the film, including the weather ("Gloomy and overcast...") and advertisements for Gotham National Bank, the Gotham Girl Guides and recruitment for the Gotham Police Department.
Lower Wacker Drive in Chicago was closed every night, starting at seven p.m., during the summer of 2007, to accommodate filming. The street was open during the day, however, and the several Batmobiles and Tumblers were visible, just on the other side of the barricades, covered only with sheets.
The console for the Bat Sonar resembles "The Listening Post", Mark Hasen and Ben Rubin's dynamic portrait of online communication, especially when Lucius Fox and Batman switch it off. The installation is currently on display at the Science Museum in London.
This film reached the two hundred million dollar mark in only five days, quickly achieving another box-office record. This jumped to three hundred million dollars on the tenth day, setting yet another record.
When it was released on July 18, 2008, this film made 67.2 million dollars in a single day, the most lucrative opening for any film. Because of its pent-up demand, midnight showings all over the country were sold out, resulting in 18.5 million dollars in late-night showings alone. The movie held the record for biggest one-day intake until The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009).
This film held the box-office record for the largest opening weekend of all time. It made 158,411,483 dollars in its first weekend of release. Another superhero sequel, Spider-Man 3 (2007), set the record the previous summer. Dark Knight held it, until the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), which had an opening weekend of 169,189,427 dollars, which was later beaten by The Avengers (2012), with 200.3 million dollars. This is the fourth Batman movie to break the opening weekend record following Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), and Batman Forever (1995).
IMAX camera technician/consultant Wayne Baker has a cameo that is the only close up shot in the IMAX format in the film. He sits on the loading dock and reacts to the Batpod emerging from the wreckage of the Batmobile.
An explosion was filmed at the Battersea Power Station in London. The fireball created calls from panic-stricken local residents, who assumed a terrorist attack had occurred at the out-of-use station. The Battersea Power Station first received popularity after being featured on the front cover of Pink Floyd's 1977 album "Animals". (A pig is seen flying over the power station.)
The Dark Knight (2008) on Blu-ray, features the IMAX version of the film. Any sequence filmed with the IMAX cameras fills up a widescreen television at a 1.78:1 ratio, thus giving a grander view from the top to bottom. The rest of the film plays at a 2.35:1 scope ratio, which delivers a panoramic view. It is only on Blu-ray, that the film can be watched this way, as on a 4:3 television, the transition would be too jarring, however, the IMAX sequences can be viewed as a special feature on the DVD version.
While filming both the bank and police department scenes at the post office, an unrelated fire broke out in a top floor mechanical room and many onlookers believed that the smoke and fire was related to the filming.
The Joker's makeup and look was partially inspired by Brandon Lee's character in The Crow (1994). Interestingly, both Lee and Ledger died during, or just after, the making of their respective projects.
The sky-hook device is - in contrast to many other Batman gadgets - not fictional. The full name is the "Fulton surface-to-air recovery system" and was developed in the 1950s by inventor Robert Edison Fulton, Jr., for the Central Intelligence Agency. The first pick-up of a human, happened in 1958. The experience is described as less violent than that of opening a parachute.
Hans Zimmer often used bizarre methods when developing his musical score, particularly with scenes with the Joker which would involve playing piano wires with razor blades, and guitar with shards of metal.
The serrated edges on the side of the Batman's gauntlets were inspired by the pulp character Tony Quinn, the Black Bat, whose origin (he was a district attorney victim of an acid flinging gangster) was borrowed for Two-Face.
The Joker's primary handgun/sidearm is a Glock 17-two tone converted to full-auto, with a stainless slide and a Glock 18 standard 33-round magazine which has been converted to full-auto as the gun lacks the Glock's 18's firing selector switch on the side of the slide.
Batman asks Alfred to find the names of any police officers who have family members staying in the hospital. Alfred texts Gordon with two names "Ramirez, Berg". Charles Ramirez-Berg is an acclaimed professor of radio-television-film at the University of Texas at Austin who, among other honors, was mentioned in Robert Rodriguez 's autobiography as his favorite professor.
In the film 'Batman Returns', Catwoman finds a gap in Batman's armor and sticks a claw into him. In a possible nod to this, when describing the new armor for the Bat suit, Fox tells Wayne that it would do okay against cats.
When asked if Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two Face would return in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Aaron Eckhart spoke about the conversation he had with Christopher Nolan about it. He said that he told Nolan that people keep asking him about it, to which Nolan responded "...yes?" Eckhart then asked "...well, am I (returning)?" He then said that Nolan looked at him with a serious face and replied "...of course, not."
In the scene where the joker interrupts the crime boss meeting. Gamble, portrayed by Michael Jai White, shouts "Enough, from the clown!" This is in reference to White's performance in the 1997 film, Spawn. He shouts this same line to a wise cracking Violater, played by John Leguizamo, another comic book villain that also wears clown makeup.
35mm VistaVision cameras were used, to provide additional coverage of some of the action sequences, as there were only a limited number of IMAX cameras available. Though rarely used since the 1960s, the format provides a larger frame area than regular 35mm, and is horizontally-gated in the same manner as 65mm IMAX.
The Batman film franchises have attracted the longest list of actors who have Oscar and Golden Globe wins or nominations. 18 Oscars, 33 Golden Globes. The franchises have won 3 Oscars. Jack Nicholson 3 Oscars, 9 nominations 7 Golden Globes, 10 Nominations George Clooney - Batman 2 Oscar, 4 nominations 4 Golden Globes, 7 nominations Sir Michael Caine 2 Oscars, 4 nominations 3 Golden Globes, 8 nominations Tommy Lee Jones 1 Oscar, 3 nominations 1 Golden Globe, 3 nominations Christian Bale 1 Oscar, 1 nomination 1 Golden Globe, 1 nomination Halle Berry 1 Oscar 1 Golden Globe, 3 nominations Heath Ledger - (only actor to win Oscar/GG for Batman character performance) 1 Oscar, 1 nomination 1 Golden Globe, 1 nomination Kim Basinger 1 Oscar 1 Golden Globe, 1 nomination Nicole Kidman 1 Oscar, 2 nomination 3 Golden Globes, 6 Nominations Ben Affleck 2 Oscars 2 Golden Globes, 1 nomination Morgan Freeman 1 Oscar, 3 nominations 2 Golden Globes, 4 nominations Anne Hathaway 1 Oscar, 1 nomination 1 Golden Globe, 2 nominations Marion Cotillard 1 Oscar, 1 nomination 1 Golden Globe, 2 nominations Michelle Pfeiffer 3 Oscar Nominations 1 Golden Globe, 5 nominations Tom Wilkinson 2 Oscar nominations 1 Golden Globe, 3 nominations Uma Thurman 1 Oscar nomination 1 Golden Globe, 3 nominations Liam Neeson 1 Oscar nomination 3 Golden Globe nominations Gary Oldman 1 Oscar nomination Danny DeVito 1 Oscar nomination 1 Golden Globe, 5 nominations Maggie Gyllenhaal 1 Oscar nomination 1 Golden Globe, 2 nominations Eric Roberts 1 Oscar nomination 3 Golden Globe nominations Matthew Modine 2 Golden Globe nominations Joseph Gordon-Levitt 2 Golden Globe nominations.
Actor and musician Dwight Yoakam turned down two different roles in this film. One was for the part of Detective Wuertz (later played by Ron Dean), as well as the small part of the Gotham National Bank manager (portrayed by William Fichtner) featured at the very beginning.
Gotham City's civic heraldry combines elements of New York City's and Chicago's municipal emblems. Examples include Gotham-area license plates (based on Illinois plates) and Gotham's garbage trucks (whose door emblems directly quote New York City's old Sanitation Department logo: a large red sans-serif capital letter S atop a medical caduceus, all within a circle with a text border).
In the comics and Batman: The Animated Series (1992), Barbara Gordon is the daughter of James Gordon, as well as Batgirl. But in the film, Barbara Gordon is James' wife (Melinda McGraw). Although we do see that James has a daughter in the film, her name was never mentioned. James Gordon's daughter is named after his wife Barbara, and they also have a son named James, Jr.
In the chase scene where the Joker is firing a bazooka at the police car Harvey Dent is in, on the side of the truck the Joker is driving the letter "S" has been painted on ahead of the word "Laughter" which is already imprinted on the truck - making the word "Slaughter".
The ferries depicted, are CGI models of the Molinari-class of Staten Island Ferry. The Staten Island Ferry, which is run by the New York Department of Transportation, offers a free 25-minute ride across New York harbor from St. George in Staten Island to South Ferry in Manhattan.
Based on early concept art produced by artist Jamie Rama, a potential scene was pitched that would have featured the Joker in a slaughterhouse. No further information or details on this scrapped scene have been released since the film's release.
Prosthetics Make-up Supervisor Colin Sullivan created three different sculptures for the Joker's scars. He made a silicone mold combining the three looks, using a technique he learned on The Last Samurai (2003).
Ron Dean previously appeared in The Fugitive (1993), which was also filmed in his native Chicago. It also won an Oscar for Tommy Lee Jones for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. His character, like Heath Ledger's, was inspired by a Victor Hugo character. Gerard was modeled after Inspector Javert from Les Miserables, while the Joker was inspired by Gwynplaine from The Man Who Laughs. Jones also played Two-Face in Batman Forever (1995).
The mask that Heath ledger wears during the bank heist at the beginning is also extremely similar to the mask that Cesar Romero wears during the end of Batman (1966) Season 1 Episode 5 "The Joker is wild".
In the scene where Harvey Dent confronts Wuertz in the bar a small statue of Marvel superhero Captain America can be seen on the shelf behind Dent. The star on Captain America's chest is clearly visible and he is holding his shield in his right arm. DC and Marvel are rival comics companies.
In addition to the Lamborghini being a "bat"mobile, its color scheme is an homage to Batman himself. The wheels are black, the color is dark grey, and the brake calipers are vibrant yellow. In the animated series and some comic versions, the cowl and cape are black, the suit is dark grey and the oval around the bay symbol and his belt are yellow.
At 1:22 when Joker is standing on the street waiting to be picked up by his henchmen, over his left shoulder is a sign Payday Store. They are about to rob a bank, and a typical expression for that sort of day is payday.
In scenes where Batman speaks with the three people who know his secret identity, Alfred, Rachel, and Lucious, while dressed as Batman, uses his Batman voice but when speaking with them as Bruce Wayne uses his normal one.
In the opening sequence, you can see the amount of bags that are ready to be loaded onto the bus is between 8 and 10 bags. Yet we only see The Joker load 4 bags onto the bus. Lau later tells the mobsters around the table that they were robbed of $68 million dollars. A million dollars in $100 dollar bills weighs 22 pounds, meaning: if the bags are loaded evenly in multiples of a million, each bag would have contained $17 million dollars and would have weighed in excess of 350 pounds/bag.
Batman overhears a call between the Joker and the 911 operator where the Joker says "Eighth and Orchard. You'll find Harvey Dent there (believed to be missing at the time)." Batman finds two dead men, one named Patrick Harvey. The other was Richard Dent, who was a Hall of Fame NFL player for the Chicago Bears, with much of the film being shot in Chicago.
Two face in the movie is similar to the villian of the bond movie Goldeneye Alec Trevelyan who is Janus, they are both two sided, believes in the same aspect, and is a friend of the protagonist until something happens and turns against them. Also Javior Bardem bond villian Raoul Silva was inspired by Heath Ledgers the Joker and Tom Hardys the bane in the franchise.
The skyhook retrieval process is a real one devised by the CIA. It was used in the 007 movie Thunderball at the end. In that movie and this one, the hero is shown holding another person when the plane grabs him. It was Domino in Thunderball and Lau in The Dark Knight.
This film marks the second Oscar nomination film for Heath, in which he has act with with a Gyllenhaal sibling. He had previously worked with Maggie Gyllenhaal's brother Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain (2004), which had earned him his first and only other Oscar nomination. And both Oscar nominations were also in the exact same category for Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role.
Patrick Leahy: The older gentleman that confronts the Joker at the party thrown by Bruce Wayne for Harvey Dent. Senator Leahy is a huge Batman fan, and arranged an early showing of the movie on July 12th, as a fund-raiser for the children's section of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, Vermont, the state's capital. He has also appeared in Batman & Robin (1997) and as a Batman: The Animated Series (1992) cartoon voice.
Buster Reeves, Christian Bale: A Joker thug. He appears in the trailer of the Joker's semi-truck, as he hands The Joker his weapons, and he fires them at the police transport. He then rides in the passenger seat of the cab of the truck as The Joker drives.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In the early minutes of each film in the trilogy, the main villain (Ra's Al Ghul, Joker, Bane) disguises himself as one of his own henchmen, and there is a conversation about said villain, in each scene.
Heath Ledger improvised, when he started clapping inside his jail cell in a mocking and sardonic way, as Gordon is promoted. The clapping was not scripted, but Christopher Nolan immediately encouraged the crew to continue filming and the sequence was included in the film.
When Harvey holds the Joker at gunpoint in the hospital scene, you can see that the Joker is actually holding the revolver's hammer with his finger, thus preventing the shot in case Harvey's coin lands on "bad" side.
Two-Face's disfigurement was created through computer graphics rather than prosthetic make-up, as Christopher Nolan felt that, no matter how good the make-up was, it is still inherently adding something onto an actor's face, when Two-Face's appearance requires part of his face to be burned away.
In one of the final scenes of the film, where Harvey flips his coin for Batman, Gordon, and himself, the outcome of the flips foreshadows the future of each of the three characters. Batman received "Tails," the "bad" side; at the end of the film, he asked Gordon to blame all of the city's troubles on him, resulting in the Batman's reputation being disgraced and scorned. On the other hand, both Gordon and Harvey received "Heads," the "good" side, and were both honored as heroes at the end of the film.
During the Hong Kong action scene (to bring Lau back), Batman shoots time-bombs on the glass which has a time of 2:22 minutes. The bombs explode almost exactly after 2 minutes 20 seconds in real-time, which shows that the action could happen in almost two minutes.
The Joker only looks at three of the people he kills in the film. He shoots the bus driver while looking back at the hostages. Two of Gambol's thugs he stabs while looking up. He kills Gambol while looking at another thug. He throws the cigar lighting Lau on fire and turns to talk to The Chechen as Lau dies. The three he looks at are the thug he kills with a pencil, the policeman stopping the semi-truck before the chase, and the policeman that is clearing the hospital out which he shoots with a pistol while in a nurse uniform. This character choice is a reference to the graphic novel "The Man Who Laughs" in which it is mentioned that The Joker "just opened fire and didn't even look at the people while he killed them".
The address 250 52nd Street where Rachel Dawes is killed, and where Harvey Dent brings Gordon's family is a palindrome: it's the same forwards as it is backwards. The way it's framed with a zero in the middle and the same numbers in opposite directions on either side suggests the opposite sides of Dent's favorite coin, the two sides of his face, and by extension the duality of his nature.
Early in the film, a witness on stand pulls a gun out on Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face during the trial and tries to shoot him. This is a nod towards Two-Face's original origin story in the comics, where in a similar trial scenario, crime boss Sal Maroni is on stand and throws sulfuric acid in Dent's face resulting in his scarring.
There are many elements from various Batman graphic novels, either verbatim or slightly recast. In The Long Halloween, Batman, Gordon, and Dent fake Dent's death; in The Dark Knight, Gordon's death is faked. Also in The Long Halloween, Batman poses as a SWAT officer; in the movie, Gordon does. The Joker's reference at the end of the film to pushing Dent over the edge, mirrors his social experiment with Gordon in The Killing Joke, in which The Joker attempts to drive Gordon insane by making him have a really bad day. A lot of the interaction between Batman and The Joker is taken from The Long Halloween, specifically the interrogation scene in the film, which is also is similar to elements of The Dark Knight Returns. The copycat Batmen are clearly inspired by The Sons of The Batman from The Dark Knight Returns. Finally, in The Killing Joke, the Joker explains if he "had a past, it would be multiple choice." This is referenced when the Joker tells two different stories about the origin of his scars.
The infamous interrogation scene originally ended with Batman, after getting the information he needs from the Joker and dropping him on the ground, quickly kicking the Joker in the head right before he leaves to save Rachel, almost as an afterthought. However, this part was removed in editing, because Christopher Nolan felt the action seemed "a little too petulant for Batman".
After his transformation, Two-Face flips his coin eight times. It comes up on the good side five times for the Joker, Sal Maroni, Detective Ramirez, Dent himself, Gordon's son (though Two-Face didn't catch that one) and the bad side three times, for Detective Wuertz, Maroni's driver, and Batman.
The film uses numerous elements of the Joker's first appearance in Batman #1, published in 1940. In both The Dark Knight and Batman #1, the Joker publicly announces his crimes before committing them, removes his make-up and disguises himself as a police officer to gain access to a person he threatened to kill, uses a powerful bomb smuggled into jail to escape, steals and kills not for personal gain but simply to create chaos and disorder, and infringes upon the city's old-fashioned mobsters.
Bruce Wayne makes his final appearance in the film (out of the batsuit) a whole forty minutes before the end of the movie, when he is reacting to the sound of Gotham General Hospital exploding shortly after his car accident.
This is the only film in the Dark Knight trilogy, where there is not a surprise revelation as to who was the instigator of the criminal events, and the identity of a villain. This is also the only film in the trilogy where the League of Shadows does not play an active part in the plot.
In the original Batman comics (specifically, Detective Comics #80, 1943) the surname of the plastic surgeon who attempts to repair Two-Face is "Ekhart". In this movie, Two-Face is, of course, played by Aaron Eckhart.
The Joker's fate, at the end of the film, was left ambiguous. This is in line with the comics, as Joker would routinely be presumed dead to end a story, only to see him return in later stories very much alive.
The camera angle shooting up at The Joker as he beats Batman with a pipe is reflective of the graphic novel scene in the Batman series 'A Death In The Family', in which The Joker beats up Robin (Jason Todd) with a crowbar.
In this film, despite his name, Joker only performs three actions that could pass for jokes...the smoke bomb in the bank, the pencil trick, and his fake seductive greeting to Harvey Dent while in the nurse's outfit. (He also claps sardonically when Gordon is appointed Commissioner of Police, and throws his hands up in mock despair when the hospital he targets (Gotham General) doesn't immediately go up in flames.)
In the final fight in the tower, after Batman pulls Joker up by a cable - right before the police officers arrive to arrest Joker, he hits the camera while giving his monologue and waving around with his arms, you can see the screen view shaking for a moment.
The Bat Symbol at the beginning of each film in the trilogy foreshadows something that happens later. In this case the Bat Symbol is made up of fire and it symbolizes Harvey Dent's face being burned which later turns him into Two-Face.
All of the main action in this film takes place over nine days and nights, by far the shortest time span of the Dark Knight Trilogy (Batman Begins (2005) takes place over decades, and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) - even when removing the flashbacks that elongate its time span to decades - still covers many months within the main action). The only scenes in the film that are implied to take place outside of these nine days and nights are the brief flash-forwards in the final scene of Harvey Dent's funeral (which would probably not take place for at least one week) and Gordon breaking the bat signal. The "day" with the most screen time in the film is the final day, which covers forty-eight minutes (a full third of the total runtime). Furthermore, unlike the other films of the trilogy, which contain copious flashbacks, this film only contains one flashback, when Harvey Dent remembers flipping his coin to Rachel while lying in his hospital bed. With that flashback, The Dark Knight not only becomes the only film in the trilogy where Bruce Wayne does not have a flashback, but also the only film where the content of the flashback references a previous scene within the film's main action. The flashbacks of the other films all either reference moments that take place outside of the film's main action (e.g. a flashback to Wayne's childhood), or moments that, while being part of the main action, are shown for the first time in the flashback.
In each part of the trilogy Batman/Bruce Wayne has either a friend who turns into the villain, or vice versa. In this one, Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face is an ally of Bruce Wayne, then afterwards opposes Batman, blaming him for Rachel's death, and his transformation.
In the "Two ships" game theory scenario, the Joker is seen with all three of the Chechen's dogs. In Greek Mythology, Cerberus is the "hound of Hades', who guards the gates of Hell, and is usually is presented as a three-headed dog. Though this may come off as purely coincidental, the Joker's deeds and personality are emblematic of Pluto, Lucifer, and other demonic entities, and the image of him with three dogs, gives that notion further validation.
When Dent discusses Gotham's politics and referencing Ancient Rome, Rachel brings up Julius Caesar, which leads Dent to saying "You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain". In Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar", the titular character is portrayed to be a man of notable ignorance, whose "partial deafness" implies that he only listens to that which he deems relevant, rather than being an open-minded leader. In the aftermath of Harvey Dent's transformation into his "Two Face" persona, he loses his sense of reason, instead, only discussing matters that relate to Rachel's murder and his "betrayal" by Gordon and the Batman. When Batman "kills" him for crossing the line, it almost mirrors Brutus's slaying of Caesar, a man who was his friend, but was no longer serving his people the way he swore to.
The masks that the Joker and his partners wear at the beginning of the movie during the bank robbery are the exact same as the masks that Joker and his henchmen use in his first appearance on the 60's series.
At the fund raising party, Bruce remarks about Harvey's previous campaign slogan "I believe in Harvey Dent". He then says, "Look at that face", which turns out to be ironic since Harvey later becomes a gruesome Two-Face villain that is hard to look at.