2008 was a year that, in retrospect, really was a truly different time that seems more defined by hindsight than maybe any other year. In the political sphere, a seemingly political nobody named Barack Obama was running for President, the final Harry Potter book was released only the year before and the sixth film wouldn't be released for another year, and the US economy was slowly approaching a recession as the War on Terror continued to spiral out of control.
In this environment,Marvel and Warner Bros. both released two films that would have a profound impact on the superhero genre, though both in very different ways. Marvel took a tremendous risk by releasing a superhero film based on a hero that almost nobody had heard of named Iron Man, to fairly good reviews; though their idea of creating a massive "cinematic universe" was almost certain to be failure as how on Earth could a single "Avengers" film be filled with so many strong personalities and not be overwhelming right? By contrast, Warner Bros. released a sequel to their moderately successful Batman Begins known as The Dark Knight, a Christopher Nolan take on an already tried-and-true superhero brand, as Batman had starred in several prominent films throughout the 1990s.
With the benefit of hindsight, its rather amazing that two influential films for a single genre would be released within weeks of each other. Iron Man and the setup for The Avengers completely revolutionized how audiences and studios saw superheroes and how their stories could be told through interconnected narratives. By contrast, The Dark Knight though lauded as one of the greatest superhero films in isolation, has arguably done more damage to the superhero genre then any other film through many film studios' efforts to maintain the same "gritty realism" of the Nolan classic. As much as Iron Man relished in the silly and fun, The Dark Knight treaded through pathos and tragedy and the DC Cinematic Universe, in my not so humble opinion, suffered as a result.
The impact of The Dark Knight is without question, but does the film actually deserve its reputation as the greatest of superhero films. Or has Warner Bros. been seeking to emulate a film that was far too overrated?
- Directed by Christopher Nolan
- Produced by Warner Bros. Pictures
- Runtime: 152 Minutes
- Rating: PG-13