The ferry scene is a moment that is even more awesome in its simplicity. In a completely silent room full of hardened criminals, Ginty walks up to the warden holding the remote detonator that would blow up the civilian ferry.
Ginty (whispering): You don't want to die, but you don't know how to take a life. Give it to me. These men will kill you, and take it anyway. Give it to me. You can tell them I took it by force. Give it to me... and I'll do what you shoulda did ten minutes ago.
The warden silently hands him the remote... which Ginty throws right out of the window and into the river. After almost two hours of the Joker's Humans Are Bastards rants without any real refute, it was a very nice "fuck you" to the clown.
What happens afterwards? He goes back to his seat and bows his head in prayer and a crowd around him joins him. All without raising his voice above a whisper. BAD. ASS.
It's not just a CMOA, it's even a moving, Tear Jerker moment for many.
The same scene is nearly repeated on the other boat. One of the civilians declares that he'll do what no one else is willing to do. He walks over, picks up the detonator, and after several tense moments, wherein they realize that the other boat hasn't blown them up yet, he puts the detonator back down with trembling fingers and sits down. There's something about that scene that is so incredibly human.
And capping it off is Batman laying the bitter, brutal truth out to the Joker:
"What were you trying to prove? That deep down, everyone is as ugly as you? You're alone!"
At that moment, it didn't matter if the Joker lived or died, or if he had succeeded in corrupting Harvey Dent. The Joker lost. And it wasn't Batman or the Gotham City Police Department that beat him, but the ordinary people of Gotham.
This is because the Joker understands how to deconstruct megalomania (Dent, Batman, the Mob), but ordinary people escape him.
The Joker gets one in almost every scene he's in, but possibly the best is his redefining Eye Scream for a new generation: "How about a magic trick?"
The bank manager gets one when the Joker and his clowns storm the bank at the beginning of the film. While everyone is screaming in panic, he calmly takes off his glasses and blasts Chuckles in the back with a sawed-off shotgun without even getting out of his seat. He then proceeds to walk through the bank, firing at the Joker and Grumpy, and even when he's completely at his mercy, he still defies him. Granted he was most likely trained by the Mob, but it's still more badass than you'd expect from the average person.
"Do you have any idea who you're stealing from?! You and your friends are dead!!"
For the car chase of this film: the Joker, armed with a garbage truck, a semi truck worded "(S)LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE", many henchmen, some shotguns, and a bazooka, is trying to kill Harvey Dent, who's in a fleeing armored car. After the truck punts an entire SWAT team's transporter into the river, Batman finally shows up in the Tumbler rocketing towards the carnage from the opposite side. The armored car sees the Tumbler approaching at high speed, and both are driving 70 mph at the least, they're about to collide head on...and then, obviously in a planned move, the driver swerves to the other lane at the very last possible second so that the Tumbler knocks the many-ton garbage truck, flattening the truck's cab against the ceiling, then turns around, and without a single visible scratch on it goes after the Joker. The Joker is loading up another missile to fire at Dent, Batman turns on the booster and the Tumbler rockets into the air and takes the entire blast of the missile. The Joker was magnificent, but the Tumbler transcends the mortal limit of badass.
One word: Batpod. Its intro scene sure seems tragic (the Tumbler destroying itself after it has been wrecked to hell by intercepting the Joker's rocket-grenade ) then becomes purely awesome when the Batpod emerges and goes on to take down the Joker in an awesome way.
In this corner, an 18-wheel truck driven by a bat-shit crazy clown and his goons, armed with a Type-94 rocket launcher, who's already managed to dump one SWAT truck in the Chicago River and has taken down a SWAT helicopter. And in this corner, the Batpod, an iddy-biddy motorcycle detached from the destroyed Batmobile. Who wins? The bat-pod; as it flips the 18-freakin'-wheeler on its back with just towing cables, as seen in the image above. Seriously, you couldn't hear the movie for a full 10 minutes because people went coconuts cheering.
Even more awesome: that was all a practical effect; no CGI, no miniatures. They put up a giant air piston on LaSalle Street and used that to flip the truck over.
James Gordon faking his own death to draw out the Joker and then saving Batman when the Joker had him pinned by posing as a SWAT officer to get the job of driver.
"We've got you, you son of a bitch."
And then when he goes to see his son afterward, both a Moment of Awesome and a Heartwarming Moment:
Son: Did Batman save you, daddy? Gordon: Actually, this time...I saved him. *both smile*
Harvey Dent's first scene, where he's questioning a witness. The witness (a hired gun) pulls out a pistol and aims at Harvey, the gun jams, and Harvey responds by quickly grabbing the gun and giving him a right cross. And then calmly tells the man who hired the hitman - who is on trial - that he really should have bought an American gun instead of a Chinese one. And then protesting when the judge orders the man taken away... because he hasn't finished his cross-examination. Appropriately, the crowd cheers.
Harvey Dent: Carbon fiber. .28 Caliber, made in China. If you want to kill a public servant, Mr. Maroni, I recommend you buy American.
The Joker daring Batman to kill him by shooting an automatic rifle at him and everything around him with a machine gun while the hero is barreling down on him with a motorcycle.
Let's be honest. This is pretty much a Crowning Movie of Awesome. It has near-universal acclaim from both the fans and movie critics (specifically a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes), Heath Ledger's Joker won him an Oscar, and the Academy was widely denounced for not even nominating the movie for Best Picture.
And the Academy wasn't just denounced by fans, but by film critics as well.
Posthumously given to Heath Ledger, every time he said a line in his Joker voice. What a role to be remembered by.
I felt that in terms of his performance, Heath Ledger's Moment of Awesome comes from his laugh. It's so completely, chillingly insane (starting off as a low, rasping giggle, before bursting out in insane laughter) that it truly captures the essence of the Joker.
It's also a Shout-Out. It's the same laugh as Cesar Romero's version of the Joker.
Also in the eyes. Heath Ledger's eyes without makeup appear very small. With the Joker makeup and surrounded by black area they pop out more.
The Joker holds Stephens at knifepoint. Why? "I just want my phone call." To detonate a cell phone bomb in the cells so he can grab Lau and escape.
"Give me a call when you decide to start taking things a little more seriously. Here's my card." A Joker playing card.
"Why don't we cut you up into little pieces and feed you to your pooches? And then we'll see how loyal a hungry dog really is!"
Burning $68 million to prove a point: that there is no point. He just... does things.
Note: Lau is on the pile of money when the Joker burns it. "I'm only burning my half."
"Let's not blow... this out of proportion". Primarily due to Heath Ledger's astounding feat of somehow making such an Incredibly Lame Pun sound genuinely threatening.
Especially since Batman villains are notorious for making really bad puns. It's a callback to sillier, campier times, but this time it's terrifying.
Okay, Batman has just flipped over Joker's truck and is now speeding right toward him. Anyone else would just run away screaming. But Joker? He takes a machine gun, starts walking toward the speeding Batpod, and dares Batman to "HIT ME!" In other words, Joker plays a Game of Chicken with the Batpod! And he WINS!
After Batman doesn't hit him with the Batpod, very quickly, he says "fuck." Blink and you'd miss it.
The Joker goes in nurse drag to push Harvey Dent off the edge before blowing the hospital to smithereens as he walks out. And when only half the bombs go off, he furiously smacks the detonator until the other half finally goes and obliterates the rest of the hospital.
If the audience isn't laughing every single second the Joker's on screen/page, no matter what the adaption or medium, then they're doing it so very, very wrong. That's the creepy thing about him... he makes you laugh, no matter what he does. The Joker could be massacring baby orphans, and it should still be funny.
The really hilarious part was how the scene totally subverted the Unflinching Walk; the Joker starts by walking away with all the explosions going off, but then stops, angrily fiddles with his detonator, and then, when the rest of the bombs blow, he jerks in surprise and then runs away quickly, which is also a bit of Throw It In!Fridge Brilliance, as no one expected the explosions to stop, so Heath just ad-libbed fiddling with the trigger and was genuinely surprised when they started up again.
The Joker is blasting away at the armored car carrying Harvey Dent with increasingly larger guns. After the Joker rakes the side of the truck with a machine pistol, then all the cartridges in a shotgun, Dent asks the SWAT officer riding in the back with him if the truck is designed to take bullet hits like that. The officer remarks that he'll need something a lot bigger than that. On cue, the Joker pulls out a rocket launcher.
A really subtle but totally awesome Moment of Awesome? Obstructing the freeway with a burning fire truck. Irony, thy name is Joker.
Similarly, the "I Believe In Harvey Dent" campaign badge on his nurse's uniform.
Following Batman slamming his head into a table by lecturing him that it will only lessen any other pain he tries to inflict. Batman immediately gives a bone-crushing punch to the Joker's hand on the table, only for him to not even flinch and say "See?"
Made all the more impressive when you consider that Heath Ledger told Christian Bale to actually beat him up.
When Gambol asks him if he thought he could just take their money, and he just says "yeah". So casually awesome.
One moment that really does, without question, convince any viewer that the Joker is truly insane? He gives Harvey his pistol, has him point it at his head, and lets Harvey flip his coin to choose whether he lives or dies. In other words, the Joker is perfectly willing to die to prove his point and ruin Harvey. And he laughs while doing this.
But if Harvey had killed him, it would have accomplished his goal either way: to ruin Gotham's White Knight.
Which just goes to prove that the Joker's claim to not have a plan might not have been so true after all...
When he tries to trick Stephens in the interrogation room into trying to beat the shit out of him so he can escape, and the cop basically says he's not going to fall for his bullshit... and then he pisses the cop off enough to convince him to try and beat the shit out of him anyway.
Batman interrogating Maroni. Holding Maroni over a railing only a few stories up, Maroni laughs that dropping him from that height would not kill him. Batman's response? "I'm counting on that," and drops him.
Batman's entrance in the Joker interrogation scene is a Moment of Awesome, just for being so very much a Batman-like thing to do. Bonus point on Batman at one point being so damned pissed that makes Gordon rush almost in a panicked fashion to the interrogation room thinking the bat will kill the Joker.
Even better is what happened meta-wise: Ledger actually wanted Bale to beat the absolute piss out of him, telling him to "go on, go on", and even, in Bale's words, "slammed himself around" into wall after wall. That is how purely committed to his role Ledger was.
All of Michael Caine's Alfred badass moments appear to center around fire or heat, from the above-mentioned ones, to his "Some men just want to watch the world burn" to "You can tell me the Russian for 'apply your own bloody sun-tan lotion!'" to "We burned the forest down."
The entirety of the Hong Kong sequence, but especially how Batman gets Lau away from the authorities.
The concept of the explosives gun. Batman has to time the charges perfectly. As in; as he's sitting up on the tower he's thinking to himself "Hmmm... I've got to fly down there, beat up some goons, and scare whatever's inside of those guys out the nearest orifice available. Should take me two and a half minutes tops. Yeah, that sounds right."
Two-Face has one when confronting one of Gordon's cops, Wuertz.
Weurtz: Dent...Jesus, I-I thought you was dead! Two-Face: "Half."
He has a VERY frightening look as he says it, and just to hit the point home he drinks some liquor and some of it leaks from his scarred face. Talk about evoking the power of Two-Face in a single word.
Two-Face gets another one while confronting Maroni:
Two-Face: [flips coin, which comes up good] You're a lucky man. [flips it again, but it comes up bad] He's not. Maroni: Who? Two-Face: [fastens seatbelt] Your driver. Bang.
Lucius Fox is confronted by Coleman Reese, who has discovered Tumbler blueprints and wants money. "Let Me Get This Straight.... You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands... and your... "plan"... is to blackmail this person?... Good luck." Absolutely owned, just like that.
Just look at Morgan Freeman's face before he delivers the line, while the sleaze ball's making his demands. You can see Lucius preparing to verbally bitch slap him a full half minute before he even speaks. Awesome.
Lucius Fox's massive sonar grid used to track the Joker.
It's echolocation. He is BATman after all.
Probably even better is when Lucius calls him out on weaponizing his invention. Batman tells him once they're done, he can self-destruct it. Which is enough to convince Lucius to help him and keep the trust between the two.
He actually never says he'll self destruct it. He tells him that after this is over, if Fox wants to walk away, he can, and to just put the code in. Him blowing the thing up was something Fox had no idea he'd do and that smile as he walks away, seeing Bruce was willing to waste millions, and give it all up when he needed to, was perfect.
The fact that both The Dark Knight and Batman Forever had moments where Batman's eyes become white (like they are in the cartoons and comics) is really, really awesome.
Batman, when he is being pinned down by the knife-wielding Joker on the top of an unfinished skyscraper. When the Joker asks if he knows how he (the Joker) got his scars (a running theme through the movie), Batman calmly replies, "No. But I know how you got these." before shooting the blades in his gauntlet into the Joker, knocking him off the building.
And before that, Batman manages to take on both the Joker's disguised goons and the Gotham PD SWAT team at the same time and defeat both of them.
Earlier in the movie at the dinner party when Joker threatening Rachel.
The Joker: [You got] a little fight in you. I like that.
Batman: Then you're gonna love me! (PUNCH)
The Joker's last appearance when he is falling to his apparent death, and is laughing hysterically all the way down, believing that Batman killing him has proven him right about how he would need to break his one rule meaning that the Joker wins. When Batman then saves him, he then laughs all the harder overjoyed at having a foe who is truly incorruptible, who he can fight forever. He then mocks Batman with how he was able to corrupt Harvey Dent, the "true soul of Gotham". Really shows that the Joker is a no-win situation kind of guy.
Batman turning himself into a wanted fugitive who the police will be forced to catch, all to completely defy the Joker and defend Harvey's memory. And it's accompanied by a montage and a speech which will forever be among the most awesome scenes in the Nolanverse:
Sometimes... the truth isn't good enough. Sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes... people deserve to have their faith rewarded.
Bruce Wayne (not Batman, Bruce Wayne) casually taking out a henchman while on his way to grab his Batsuit: by striking him with his fists, grabbing his shotgun, knocking the guy out, then disassembling the gun and lackadaisically discarding it, all without breaking stride.
Another point where Bruce Wayne gets a rare moment of badassery as Bruce Wayne is when he offers to throw a fund raiser for Harvey Dent's upcoming reelection campaign and when Dent tries to downplay it Bruce quietly explains "No you don't understand. One fund raiser with my pals, and you'll never need another cent." In that moment he might not be a martial arts master, flawless detective, loaded to the gills with a bunch of exotic weapons... but proves that a multi-billionaire can be a pretty strong force for good as well.
The final scene where, as Batman rides away running from the police, Gordon beautifully explains to his son AND the audience why Batman is such a great hero. It emphasizes how badass the character is but also how selfless he is. It's a perfect way to end one of the greatest comic adaptations of all time.
He's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now, so we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector... A Dark Knight.
The performance by Heath Ledger has been mentioned but it extends beyond that. Let's be honest, NOBODY thought this would work. Nobody expected Ledger to deliver anything even half as good as what we got. The casting choice raised so many eyebrows due to just how strange and unusual it was. Hell, Ledger himself admitted that, if it was him, he'd not had casted himself either! Then Ledger shocked everyone by giving not only the best performance in the series, but arguably the greatest performance in the history of comic book movies. He. Is.The Joker.
And you know the MOST awesome thing about it? One of the reasons nobody thought this would work was because this was such a radical reinterpretation of the Joker. The Joker is one of the most iconic villains in comic book history and while there have been several different takes on him (Cesar Romero's, Jack Nicholson's, Mark Hamill's, and more recently Jared Leto's) this one strayed the furthest from the original concept- his skin wasn't stained by chemicals, he wasn't wacky and gimmicky, he was more of a terrorist than a criminal, he didn't like being called insane. And yet, Heath Ledger's all-new version of the Joker instantly became arguably the MOST iconic, recognisable and awesome of all. It redefined The Joker. It was just that good.
Senator Patrick Leahy's cameo is awesome in several ways. First, it's the third time the Senator (who is a huge Batman fan) has cameoed in a Batman production (previously in the animated series and Batman & Robin) and secondly, his cameo in this film has his character standing up to The Joker and living to tell the tale. Pretty badass for a bit part.
Leahy: We aren't intimidated by thugs!
Stephens gets one when the Joker manages to take him hostage and threatening to kill him. Aware that he's given the Joker some leverage, he bellows at the other cops to shoot him and the Joker anyway.
The scene where the Joker introduces himself to the mob. Lau is confident that his funds are protected from the police, and it seems like they're one step ahead of the police. However, Joker just shuts everyone up, saying that even if the police have no jurisdiction in Hong Kong, Batman doesn't care, since he operates outside the law. In a way, it serves as an awesome moment for both Batman and the Joker.
Brian Douglas, the doomed Batman impostor captured by the Joker and executed on camera, gets one for standing up to the most viciously insane villain in the franchise's history, despite sounding like he's about to soil himself out of fear:
Douglas: [Batman]'s a symbol that we don't have to be afraid of scum like you!
After Joker's Suddenly SHOUTING! moment where he demands Douglas to look at him, he does. Managing to stop whimpering and look at him with utter disgust. He may have died not long after, but it was another subtle middle finger to the clown.
Crane gets one in his cameo, when his meeting with the Mob is interrupted by some Batman impostors with guns. He's the only one to stay calm, simply saying, "That's not him." Then, a Batman impostor sneaks up on him with a gun, and he effortlessly turns around and gasses the guy. Then, point goes back to the good guys when the real Batman turns up. ("...That's more like it.")
A small scene in the film's beginning shows a criminal being too afraid to join his partner upon glancing at the Bat-Signal. It's a small little moment, but it perfectly captures what Batman is all about: scaring the crap out of criminals.
While Heath Ledger is a total show-stealer with his Joker, Aaron Eckhartnails it as Harvey Dent. He does a decent job at Harvey alone, but it's when he becomes Two-Face that the real good stuff comes in. Eckhart does most of his lines in a Suddenly SHOUTING! tone, capturing the pure mental horror that was done to Harvey perfectly. But the most glorious part would have to be his final scene - every damn line he says, he gives it his all, sounding truly like an emotionally tormented, insane psychopath, especially with his Straw Nihilist ramblings. And while not as completely character-refining as Ledger's Joker, Eckhart's portrayal of Two-Face quickly became one of, if not the most popular incarnation thus far. Hats off to you, Aaron.