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Trivia / The Dark Knight

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  • Actor-Inspired Element: It's noticeable for all of a few seconds, but during the hospital scene (the only scene in which the Joker doesn't wear gloves), there's makeup visible on Heath Ledger's fingers. He came up with this detail to emphasize the idea that the Joker applied his own makeup.
  • All-Star Cast:
  • Approval of God: Michael Keaton praised the direction of the film from Christopher Nolan and praised the performances of Christian Bale and Heath Ledger as “unbelievable”
  • Banned in China: A rare example of self-censorship. Warner Bros. declined to submit it to Chinese film authorities for review, fearing that the portrayal of Lau as a criminal accountant and implication that Hong Kong police were corrupt would cause backlash. However, the film ended up being one of the most bootlegged titles in the country.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!:
    • The Joker is often mis-quoted as asking "Do I look like a man with a plan?" when Harvey Dent says that his (Harvey's) disfigurement and the death of Rachel Dawes was part of his (the Joker's) plan, most likely because people associate the rhyming words "man" and "plan". The quote is actually "Do I really look like a guy with a plan?"
    • "Why so serious?" isn't really the Joker's catchphrase. He only says the phrase in a fierce tone when pretending to be his dad, and the one time he says it as himself he says it almost sarcastically. He actually chides the mob for not taking things seriously. This one can be attributed to the advertising, as multiple posters centered around the "why so serious?" tagline before the film came out.
  • California Doubling:
    • Chicago not only plays Gotham, it even plays Hong Kong: When Fox and Lau are conversing on the terraced roof of Lau's Hong Kong office, you can clearly see McCormick Place in the background.
    • The "Gotham" license plates seen on cars throughout the movie look like Illinois plates, for the specific purpose of making it harder to notice when actual Illinois plates slip in the background.
  • Common Knowledge: There's a popular rumor that the hospital explosion scene includes some improvisation by Heath Ledger because either the explosive effects failed or he did not get the memo that there was supposed to be a pause in the explosions. This is false: Christopher Nolan actually wanted "a delayed, staggered explosive effect" in that scene. Considering that explosion scenes are usually filmed with extreme caution, likely moreso with Heath Ledger in the scene instead of a (slightly) more expendable stunt man, ad-libbing would not have been allowed in this case because they couldn't do it more than once.
  • Development Gag: When Fox is asked for improvements to the Batsuit, he remarks, "You want to be able to turn your head." The Dark Knight was the first Batman film to design an articulated neck for the Batsuit, with all previous costumes leaving the actor's head rigidly stuck forward. Christian Bale's complaints finally led to the redesign.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Heath Ledger directed and shot the two home videos the Joker sends to the media (both the one where he tortures and kills the fake Batman, then the one where a captive Mike Engel is forced to read a script of the Joker's demands).
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • Rachel not being able to look the Joker in the face while he's threatening her is because Maggie Gyllenhaal was so terrified by Heath Ledger's performance in the full makeup that she couldn't look at him that close. Michael Caine can also be seen jumping in the background when Joker fires his gun because he was also terrified by the look (he even forgot his line in the process).
    • The officer who takes the knives out of the Joker's pockets wasn't told what would be inside them, resulting in a notable moment when the actor double takes upon pulling out a potato peeler.
  • Fatal Method Acting: Cameraman Conway Wickliffe was killed as he rode in a pickup truck driving parallel to a stunt car; the pickup missed a 90-degree turn and crashed into a tree.
  • Follow the Leader:
    • The film had a profound impact on action movies after it came out. The emphasis on more realism, practical effects, more terrorist-flavored villains, and the feeling that Anyone Can Die without warning influenced franchises from James Bond to The Avengers to Star Trek. In particular, the Captured on Purpose (villain gets caught in the second act, causes death and mayhem, and then escapes while the heroes acknowledge "he ''wanted to get caught!") began getting used a lot after the Joker used it.
    • The DC Extended Universe, perhaps hoping for the same lightning to strike twice, also recycled this film's excellent and appropriate use of gritty realism for several of their subsequent movies, whether or not the darker tone was a good complement to the different source material. Critical reception to these choices has been decidedly mixed.
  • Method Acting: To prepare for the part of the Joker, Heath Ledger spent six weeks in a motel room in seclusion to delve deep into his intended portrayal of the Joker's psychology.
    • In an interview for the film, Ledger revealed that one of the reasons he went to such extremes because after he was cast, he watched Batman, which of course had Jack Nicholson as The Joker. Ledger related that Nicholson's performance was so powerful and spot-on that he simply could not get it out of his head, and didn't want to have his Joker simply be a weak copy of Nicholson's. Finally, after all that time in that motel room, he created his own unique take on the character.
  • One-Take Wonder:
    • The hospital scene, where the Joker totters out of Gotham General with the hospital exploding around him. The explosion stops for several seconds, causing the Joker to fiddle with the detonator, before the explosions suddenly continue. Heath Ledger does not break character (with rumors about how it was a mistake by the effects team abounding, though it turns out it was entirely intentional), nor does he even turn to watch the explosion even when he gets on the bus. Everything is executed perfectly, resulting in one of the most memorable scenes in the movie.
    • In the DVD Extras, it's mentioned that they only purchased two Lamborghinis for the scene in which Bruce Wayne blocks the truck driver's attempt at running over Coleman Reese. It wasn't the end of the world if they got it wrong on both takes, but splashing a million dollars on two cars is naturally not exactly the optimal scenario. However, everything went right on the first try.
  • The Other Darrin: Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes in Dark Knight, replacing Katie Holmes from Begins.
  • Playing Against Type: One of the reasons people were so skeptical about Heath Ledger playing The Joker was that he wasn't known for villainous roles, let alone one of the most psychotic and monstrous characters in fiction, usually playing romantic leads. As we can see from the result, Tropes Are Not Bad.
  • Prop Recycling: The Joker's full-auto Glock was originally part of a matching set used by Brad Pitt in the ending of Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005).
  • Reality Subtext: Bruce Wayne requesting a new Batsuit from Fox so that he can turn his head and be more agile, was the result of Christian Bale complaining about these problems with his Batsuit from the first movie, as well as a gag on the fact that this was the first big screen Batsuit that let the actor turn their head.
  • Referenced by...: In Spider-Man: No Way Home, at one point during their fight in Happy's apartment, Peter has the Green Goblin pinned against a wall and is pummelling his face - and the Goblin only laughs.
  • Refitted for Sequel: Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer had originally considered using Dent in Batman Begins, but they realized they "couldn't do him justice", so they gave his role to Rachel Dawes.
  • Role Reprise: In the Canadian French dub, the Joker is voiced by Gilbert Lachance, reprising his role from Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
  • Star-Making Role: Heath Ledger was far from unknown prior to the film and was well-known as a romantic actor, and had an Academy Award nomination on his resume. But his turn as the Joker is remembered as the one that immortalized his legacy after his death and made him into a household name.
  • Throw It In:
    • The Joker's Sarcastic Clapping when Gordon gets promoted wasn't in the script.
    • A lot of the Joker's mannerisms were developed when Heath Ledger was getting his makeup done, and would scrunch up his face to create different textures for the makeup - which made his makeup appear more self-applied. The creepy way in which the Joker licks his lips was one of these; he was genuinely irritated by the feel of the scar prosthetics.
    • When the Joker arrives at Bruce's fundraiser, he walks out of an elevator past Alfred. Michael Caine (playing Alfred) had a line at that point. However, this was his first time seeing Heath Ledger in full costume as the Joker and he was so surprised that he forgot his line, with Ledger walking by as though nothing had happened.
    • The actor who frisks Joker was told to take out the knives in his pockets, but wasn't given details on what would be in them (apart from 'knives') which is why he stops inquisitively to look at the potato peeler.
    • Reportedly, Joker sticking his thumb in Dent's trigger was not intentional. Ledger did that while filming either as improv, gun safety, or happenstance.
  • Tom Hanks Syndrome: Strange to see Tiny "Zeus" Lister acting as a calm voice of reason. He doesn't even raise his voice once in the whole scene. If you go and watch other films, he is usually the growly antagonist. (He was also the President of either America or the world in The Fifth Element!)
  • Typecasting: Ron Dean playing Mike Wuertz, one of Gordon's detectives. He behaves similarly to his performance as Detective Kelly in The Fugitive.
  • What Could Have Been: Enough for its own page
  • Working Title: Warner Bros. tried to hide the movie's development by calling it "Rory's First Kiss".