The Dark Knight Trilogy
The dark knight trilogy.png
Cover of The Dark Knight Trilogy box set of the three films
Directed byChristopher Nolan
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Music by
CinematographyWally Pfister
Edited byLee Smith
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
Running time
456 minutes[1][2][3]
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
Budget$565 million[4][5][6]
Box office$2.464 billion[4][5][6]

The Dark Knight Trilogy is an American-British superhero film trilogy, based on the DC Comics character Batman. The trilogy consisted of Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), directed by Christopher Nolan.

Following the critical failure and box-office disappointment of Batman & Robin (1997), Warner Bros. rebooted the film franchise. The trilogy stars Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman as James Gordon, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox.

Each film in the series was a box-office success, in particular the second and third films, which both earned over $1 billion worldwide. In addition, the trilogy has gained widespread recognition as being the crowning achievement of the superhero genre.[citation needed]

Batman: Gotham Knight, released direct-to-video in July 2008, is a collection of animated shorts set in between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

Because the trilogy was meant to be a stand-alone series, the character is set to be rebooted once again for the upcoming DC Extended Universe, starting with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016.

Films[edit | edit source]

Batman Begins[edit | edit source]

Following a rejected Batman origin story reboot Joss Whedon pitched in December 2002,[7][8] Warner Bros. hired Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer to script Batman Begins.[9] The duo aimed for a darker and more realistic tone, with humanity and realism being the basis of the film.[10] The film relied on traditional stunts and scale models with minimal use of computer-generated imagery. Christian Bale starred as Batman, Liam Neeson starred as Ra's al Ghul, and Cillian Murphy as The Scarecrow. Katie Holmes also starred in the movie as Bruce's love interest, Rachel Dawes, a role created for the film. A new Batmobile (called the Tumbler) and a more mobile Batsuit were both created specifically for the film.[11][12]

Batman Begins opened on June 15, 2005, in the United States and Canada in 3,858 theaters. The film grossed $48 million in its opening weekend, eventually grossing over $372 million worldwide, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

The Dark Knight[edit | edit source]

Nolan reprised his duties as director, and brought his brother, Jonathan, to co-write the script for the second installment. The Dark Knight featured Bale reprising his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Heath Ledger as The Joker, and Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. Principal photography began in April 2007 in Chicago and concluded in November. Other locations included Pinewood Studios, Ministry of Sound in London and Hong Kong. On January 22, 2008, after he had completed filming The Dark Knight, Ledger died from a bad combination of prescription medication. Warner Bros. had created a viral marketing campaign for The Dark Knight, developing promotional websites and trailers highlighting screen shots of Ledger as the Joker, but after Ledger's death, the studio refocused its promotional campaign.[13][14] The film made use of IMAX Cameras throughout the film. Most notably during the bank heist, the hospital explosion, and the SWAT Caravan scene—where one of only three IMAX Cameras at the time was destroyed in a crash.

The film set numerous records during its theatrical run.[15] With over $1 billion in revenue worldwide, it is the sixteenth-highest-grossing film of all time, unadjusted for inflation.[16] The film received eight Academy Award nominations; it won the award for Best Sound Editing and Ledger was posthumously awarded Best Supporting Actor.

The Dark Knight Rises[edit | edit source]

Nolan wanted the story for the third and final installment to keep him emotionally invested. "On a more superficial level, I have to ask the question," he reasoned, "how many good third movies in a franchise can people name?"[17] He returned out of finding a necessary way to continue the story, but feared midway through filming he would find a sequel redundant.[18] The Dark Knight Rises is intended to complete Nolan's Batman trilogy.[19] By December 2008, Nolan completed a rough story outline, before he committed himself to Inception.[20] In February 2010, work on the screenplay was commencing with David S. Goyer and Jonathan Nolan.[21] When Goyer left to work on the Superman reboot, Jonathan was writing the script based on the story by his brother and Goyer.[22] Tom Hardy was cast as Bane and Anne Hathaway plays Selina Kyle.[23] Joseph Gordon-Levitt was cast as John Blake,[24][25] and Marion Cotillard was cast as Miranda Tate. Filming began in May 2011 and concluded in November.[26] Nolan chose not to film in 3-D but, by focusing on improving image quality and scale using the IMAX format, hoped to push technological boundaries while nevertheless making the style of the film consistent with the previous two.[27] Nolan had several meetings with IMAX Vice-President David Keighley to work on the logistics of projecting films in digital IMAX venues.[28] The Dark Knight Rises featured more scenes shot in IMAX than The Dark Knight.[28] Cinematographer Wally Pfister expressed interest in shooting the film entirely in IMAX.[29][30]

The Dark Knight Rises went on to out-gross the both of its predecessors and become the fourteenth-highest-grossing film of all time grossing over $1.08 billion. However, unlike its predecessors, the film was not nominated for any awards during its year of eligibility at the 85th Academy Awards.[31]

Starring cast and characters[edit | edit source]

  • A Y indicates the actor portrayed a younger version of the character in a flashback scene.
  • An A indicates the actor appeared in the film through the use of archive footage.
  • A C indicates a cameo appearance.
  • A P indicates the actor appeared in the film through the use of a photograph or other device.
  • A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film.
Character Films
Batman Begins
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight Rises
Bruce Wayne Christian Bale
Gus Lewis (y)
Christian Bale Christian Bale
Gus Lewis (y) (a)
Alfred Pennyworth Michael Caine
Ra's al Ghul Liam Neeson
Ken Watanabe
  Liam Neeson (c)
Josh Pence (y)
The Joker   Heath Ledger  
Bane   Tom Hardy
James Gordon Gary Oldman
Rachel Dawes Katie Holmes
Emma Lockhart (y)
Maggie Gyllenhaal Maggie Gyllenhaal (p)
Selina Kyle   Anne Hathaway
Dr. Jonathan Crane Cillian Murphy
Harvey Dent   Aaron Eckhart Aaron Eckhart (a) (p)
Talia al Ghul   Marion Cotillard
Joey King (y)
John Blake   Joseph Gordon Levitt
Lucius Fox Morgan Freeman

Reception[edit | edit source]

Box office performance[edit | edit source]

The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises in particular are two of only 24 films to gross over $1 billion worldwide.[citation needed]

Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Ref(s)
North America Outside
North America
Worldwide All time
North America
All time
Batman Begins June 15, 2005 $206,852,432 $167,366,241 $374,218,673 #150 #240 $150 million [4]
The Dark Knight July 18, 2008 $534,858,444 $469,700,000 $1,004,558,444 #6
#24 $185 million [5]
The Dark Knight Rises July 20, 2012 $448,139,099 $636,800,000 $1,084,939,099 #10
#16 $250 million [6]
Total $Script error: No such module "val". $Script error: No such module "val". $Script error: No such module "val". $585 million [32]
List indicator(s)
  • A light grey cell indicates information is not available.
  • (A) indicates the adjusted totals based on current ticket prices (calculated by Box Office Mojo).
  • Batman Begins and The Dark Knight gross includes 2012 re-releases.

Critical and public response[edit | edit source]

The Dark Knight Trilogy has become the most critically acclaimed film series in both the comic book and superhero film genres.[citation needed]

Common praise goes to Nolan's direction and writing, the performances of the cast, the more realistic and darker reinvention of the source material, its major use of practical effects and stunts over computer-generated imagery, and Hans Zimmer's score for each film.[citation needed]
Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Batman Begins 85% (266 reviews)[33] 70 (41 reviews)[34] A[35]
The Dark Knight 94% (314 reviews)[36] 82 (39 reviews)[37] A[35]
The Dark Knight Rises 87% (326 reviews)[38] 78 (45 reviews)[39] A[35]

Academy Awards[edit | edit source]

Award Batman Begins The Dark Knight The Dark Knight Rises
Actor in a Supporting Role Won (Heath Ledger)
Editing Nomination
Art Direction Nomination
Cinematography Nomination Nomination
Makeup Nomination
Sound Editing Won
Sound Mixing Nomination
Visual Effects Nomination

Home media[edit | edit source]

The DVD of Batman Begins was released on October 18, 2005, in both single-disc and two-disc deluxe editions and also released on VHS and UMD Video formats.[40] In addition to the film, the deluxe edition contained featurettes and other bonus materials. The edition contained a small paperback booklet, the first Batman story, featured in Detective Comics No. 27, as well as Batman: The Man Who Falls and an excerpt from Batman: The Long Halloween.[41] Batman Begins achieved first place in national sales and rental charts in October 2005, becoming the top-selling DVD of the fourth quarter of 2005. The DVD grossed $11.36 million in rental revenue.[42] The DVD held its position at the top of the sales chart for a second week, but fell to second place behind Bewitched on video rental charts.[43] The film had brought in $167 million in DVD sales by August 2006.[44] Batman Begins was released on HD DVD on October 10, 2006.[45]

The Dark Knight was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in North America on December 9, 2008. Releases include a one-disc edition DVD; a two-disc Special Edition DVD; a two-disc edition BD; and a Special Edition BD package featuring a statuette of the Bat-pod.[46] The BD/iTunes version presents the film in a variable aspect ratio, with the IMAX sequences framed in 1.78:1, while scenes filmed in 35 mm are framed in 2.40:1.[47] The DVD versions feature the entire film framed in a uniform 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Disc 2 of the two-disc Special Edition DVD features the six main IMAX sequences in the original 1.44:1 aspect ratio. Additional IMAX shots throughout the film that are presented in 1.78:1 on the Blu-ray release are not, however, included in the DVD's special features. In addition to the standard DVD releases, some stores released their own exclusive editions of the film. The DVD and Blu-ray Disc editions were released in Australia on December 10, 2008. Releases were in the form of a one-disc edition on DVD; a two-disc edition on DVD; a two-disc edition including a Batmask on DVD and BD; a two-disc Batpod statuette Limited BD Edition; a two-disc BD edition; and a four-disc Batman Begins/The Dark Knight pack on DVD and BD. As of December 19, 2008, the DVD release is the top selling film in the Australian DVD Charts[48] In March 2011, Warner Bros. offered The Dark Knight for rent on Facebook, becoming the first film ever to be released via digital distribution on a social networking site.[49]

The Dark Knight Rises was released on November 28, 2012 in Hong Kong and New Zealand. On December 3, it was released in the United Kingdom, and on December 4, it was released in the United States. It is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital download [50]

Coinciding with the release of The Dark Knight Rises, a box set of The Dark Knight Trilogy was released.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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  3. "THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. July 3, 2012. Retrieved December 20, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  8. Seijas, Casey (August 11, 2008). "Joss Whedon Talks About His 'Batman' Movie That Never Was". MTV. Archived from the original on October 21, 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-17. 
  9. Fleming, Michael (January 27, 2003). "Batman captures director Nolan". Variety. Archived from the original on July 6, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  10. Graser, Marc; Dunkley, Cathy (February 8, 2004). "The Bat and the Beautiful". Variety. Archived from the original on July 26, 2015. Retrieved November 2, 2006. 
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