Not only is The Dark Knight the greatest cinema ever made (so far) about the aftermath of September 11th in America, it’s also the greatest art period ever made (so far) about the aftermath of September 11th in America.  Though the writers deny it’s related, it’s about a brilliant terrorist whose schemes the authorities cannot …
" /> Jason Holborn | Cybercarnet/Weblog - Patterns: THE DARK KNIGHT


Not only is The Dark Knight the greatest cinema ever made (so far) about the aftermath of September 11th in America, it’s also the greatest art period ever made (so far) about the aftermath of September 11th in America.  Though the writers deny it’s related, it’s about a brilliant terrorist whose schemes the authorities cannot anticipate attacking America’s primary city; the population cannot agree on how best to fight him, and because they lack unified purpose, the terrorist wins (despite being stopped), and the city loses its greatest asset: Batman’s reputation.

It’s my favorite (Hollywood, at least) movie of its decade, and one of the greatest American movies ever made.  It was hard to find a structure in it, and for a week or two I became obsessed with figuring it out.  I think I cracked it eventually, although I needed an assist from Jamie Nash: the key is a very late Catalyst (almost 45 minutes in), and a very event-filled Set-Up.  I rejected the first Joker killing as a Catalyst (because it was so late) but when Jamie felt the same event was the main story spur, my suspicion become a conviction.

*I use Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet to break down movies; it’s not the only way, yet ultimately I think most structure analysts are using the same template, with different names.  Whether it’s called “Belly of the Beast” or “Bad Guys Close In”, it’s all the same thing, and I just use Snyder’s.  I was so obsessed with the structure and interpretations of this movie that there’s two breakdowns; a short one first, followed by a longer, more in-depth second.

A major metropolis’s most civically-active citizen blinks and loses in a tragic game of chicken versus a brilliant serial killer terrorist — but limps away having proven himself incorruptible, and reaffirmed his commitment to his ideals. 

A “SIN”… PRIDE AND ARROGANCE: Not taking the consequences seriously when he should have.  A wise, experienced mentor cautions the protagonist about knowing his limits, and the young brash protagonist willfully denies this obvious truth… until it’s tragically too late.
A “HOUSE”… downtown Gotham City
A SUPERNATURAL “MONSTER”… a nihilistic and extremely intelligent serial killer terrorist who calls himself The Joker.
AND A HALF-MAN… Bruce’s batman Alfred, who burned an entire forest down to find a man who can’t be reasoned with, who just wanted to watch the world burn.

MORAL PREMISE: Pursuit of the public good provides moral strength, even against tragedy and loss.  Pursuit of personal needs leads to moral weakening, and personalization of tragedy and loss.

Opening Image (1):
A window in an ordered, symmetrical grid of glass EXPLODES into chaos, as chaos will soon explode all over the city.

Theme Stated (5):
“What makes you so different from me?  WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT?”
The Dark Knight is an apolitical drama about the moral wrestle of the post-9/11 Western world, and the perplexing confusion resulting from everyone else’s totally different perspective & worldview on how to react.   The terrorist poses the rest of the cast with continual ethical dilemmas about surviving and defeating terrorism.  Each character struggles to know how to best react in their New Normal.

Set-Up (1-10):
The Joker robs $68Million from Mob to get a new suit and prepare to go public.  Batman captures the Scarecrow.  Batman and Gordon are tracing Mob money with irradiated bills.  (I personally also see this opening as a sort of Catalyst: Batman is unaware of it, but an obsessed stalker with a hard-on for Batman makes $68 million to “just DO things”, targeting Batman’s schemes and plans for a better world.  It’s also the scene where the Joker gets the serious attention of the Mobs, a vital part of his longer-term plan on messing with the Batman.)

*A. – “One man?  Or the entire Mob?”  Batman falls into the Joker’s trap: the make-up and green hair tell him this flakey freak is JUST NOT SERIOUS ENOUGH to worry about.  GOTCHA!!!  They have little choice but to trust new D.A. Harvey Dent to bust the Mob banks.
*B. – Batman’s watching Dent closely and still has strong feelings for Dent’s lover Rachel.  Alfred delivers Batman a message from cosmic destiny (KNOW YOUR LIMITS) but Batman mockingly refuses to face this truth, thus tempting fate.
I sort of regard these combined sequential moments (ignoring the Joker, ignoring Alfred) as the “Thematic, Greek Tragedy Catalyst”: Batman invites the Fates to smack him down for hubris

Fearless & strong, Harvey is working his hardest to put the Mob behind bars.

Harvey wants in on Gordon and Batman’s relationship but Gordon is hostile and suspicious, and refuses.  Harvey is a White Knight yet he’s heard they have a different name for him at MCU.

Batman has business dealings with tycoon Lao and asks Fox for a new Batsuit.

Batman and Harvey and Rachel debate Batman’s value and legitimacy; Harvey is compared to the Batman, and opines that one dies a hero or lives long enough to see oneself become the villain.  Batman is persuaded Harvey can be trusted and will fund Harvey’s rise.

Lao is the wily evil Mob accountant and has stomped all over Batman and Gordon’s plan to seize the Mob’s money.  The Joker introduces himself: Batman has dramatically changed the criminal scene and has opened up a trail for HARVEY DENT.  The Joker is NOT crazy and offers to kill the Batman for HALF.  The Mobs are alternately intrigued or repulsed; the Joker leaves his card.

Harvey calls in Batman, and Gordon arrives too.  The Mob’s money got away with Lao; Gordon knew Dent couldn’t be trusted.  Dent goes ballistic re: WUERTZ & RAMIREZ.  Batman wants to know if Dent can make Lao talk if Lao returns to the city.  Dent can make Lao sing.

Batman goes to China.

The Joker kills a Mob boss.  One down, two to get out of the way…

Batman uses Fox’s cellphone sonar scan to assist in breaking into Lao’s fortress and “extraditing” him back to Gotham

Lao agrees to talk and put the Mob away and Harvey sees his chance with RICO: the Mob pooled their money so can all be charged with the felonies of all their fellows.

Now desperate, the Mob decides that maybe the Joker is worth half after all… if that’s what it will take to destroy the Batman…

Harvey convinces the Mayor of the serious potential in his “farcical” scheme to take down all the Mobs at once: REAL CHANGE IS COMING TO THE CITY AT LAST

Catalyst (12):
A serial killer terrorist named the Joker publicly announces he will kill people every day until Batman unmasks and starts with a dramatic murder.  Batman realizes: THIS CLOWN IS HORRIBLY SERIOUS…
So, that’s a Catalyst at around Minute 45.  I’m open to debate, but that’s my take.
The Joker is the Catalyst for a massive, traumatic and permanent change in Batman’s existence.  No scene before this, the Joker’s first murder (of Brian, the copycat Batman) and his threat to Kill Until Batman Unmasks, kicks the Batman into a new, unforeseen direction.  Batman’s entire life is “battling organized crime”; so “Lao foils the bank seizure scheme” or “Dent persuades Batman of his sincerity”, “Lao gives Dent RICO felony prosecutions” or any other Mob-related actions may be unexpected and difficult, but they’re all part of the dramatic and super-human effort he’s already pouring into his War On Crime from long before the story starts.
Batman’s existence is ‘fighting the Mobs’ and that never, ever changes until the Joker calls for him to turn himself in or face serial murders in his name.  It’s the first thing that happens to Bruce/Batman in the movie that seriously shakes him; nabbing Lao and the Scarecrow are intense, but they’re just days at the office.   Everything changes when the already-known-to-police Joker makes his obsession with Batman public knowledge

Debate (12-25): 
The Joker announces his first murder targets: Judge Cirillo, Commissioner Loeb, Harvey Dent.  Batman seriously considers quitting so he can marry Rachel.  Will the Mob survive, or have Batman/Dent/Gordon struck a fatal blow?  Will Batman the Dark Knight step down, to yield to Dent the White Knight, and to the Joker’s demands?

The Joker kills the first two; at a Harvey Dent fundraiser, Batman saves Harvey and Meets The Joker.  Batman saves Rachel from a 60-story defenestration.

B Story (30): Half-Man ALFRED PENNYWORTH
With Alfred, Batman is angry at the MOB, not at THE JOKER… they pushed things this far hiring the Joker.  Alfred reminds Batman he brought this on himself by bullying them – what did he expect was going to happen?  Batman scoffs that criminals aren’t complicated, they just need to know what the Joker wants.  But Alfred relays Batman a sinister story about a convoy/jewel thief in Burma who simply tossed away all his stolen jewels: Some men just want to watch the world burn.  Alfred believes The Joker killer is a man that Batman doesn’t yet fully understand.

Unimpressed, the Joker kills 2 cops named Harvey and Dent in lieu of Harvey Dent, because HE’S A MAN OF HIS WORD.  Batman traces a fingerprint off a bullet.  THE JOKER NAMES THE MAYOR NEXT.  Will Batman step down… not for the White Knight’s entrance but in response to terror?

Batman traces the bullet’s fingerprint.  The Joker tries for the Mayor but kills Gordon instead.  Batman was too late.  Harvey discovers Assistant District Attorney, Ms. Rachel Dawes, is the Joker’s next target.

Barbara Gordon blames the Batman for bringing the terror upon them. Should Batman step down?  Is he doing more harm than good?

Batman viciously injures a Mob boss for Joker info but the Mob Boss accuses Batman of hypocrisy: he can stop the killings anytime by turning himself in. This time, IT SINKS IN AND HITS BATMAN (MOMENT OF GRACE)

Harvey scare-tortures a Joker’s thug.  Batman stops him and cautions Harvey to remain pure or all his prosecutions will vanish.  Batman hands the city over to Harvey because Harvey is the better man; Batman will stop the Joker killings and turn himself in.  End of DEBATE: The Batman will step down

Rachel questions if Batman honestly believes the Joker will stop killing should Batman step down.  Is it even actually worthwhile for the Batman to step down….?


Break Into Two (25):
HARVEY DENT has a joker of his own up his sleeve, and TURNS HIMSELF IN AS THE OUTLAW VIGILANTE “BATMAN”.  Harvey the White Knight, whom Batman believes in so strongly, in turn believes in Batman so strongly that he takes the fall for Batman in order to lure the Joker killer in for Batman.  (Batman will return the favor when he takes the fall for Harvey’s crimes)  Batman re-commits to his vigilante career and plays along with Harvey’s desperate plan to bait the Joker in for Batman…

Fun and Games (30-55):
Harvey lures the Joker to his County Holding-bound convoy so that Batman can fight the Joker’s gang in an extended high-octane thrillride multi-vehicle chase/battle above and below ground, with explosions, bullets, crashes, a destroyed Batmobile that ejects a Bat-Pod, a helicopter crash, RPGs, a motorcycle in a shopping mall, a game of street chicken, a Death Wish, and a Big Surprise: Gordon is alive.

Midpoint (55)

*This Midpoint was the only obvious structural component I could clearly see the first times I watched the movie*

Bad Guys Close In (55-75):
The Joker’s men kidnaps Harvey.  And Rachel too.  Batman can only save one and he must choose Rachel (MORAL PREMISE: FORGETTING TO PUT THE PUBLIC GOOD FIRST THIS TIME, BATMAN WILL FACE TRAGEDY).
The Joker was Just Kidding: Batman saves Harvey Dent.

All Is Lost (75):

Dark KNight Of The Soul (75-85):
Batman wonders who the hell he’s kidding and what it’s all about, anyway.  He failed to save Rachel and he let a murderous psychopath blow Harvey halfway to hell.  Batman breaks: he asks the Mentor whose wise cautions he so brashly mocked for advice: did Alfred ever catch that thief who just wanted to watch the world burn?  Yes, he did… but they had to burn the forest down to do it.

Harvey is bitter against Gordon and won’t help him find the crooks in his MCU; he warned Gordon about Wuertz & Ramirez and blames Gordon for Rachel’s death and Harvey’s face.  GORDON’S NOT SORRY, swears Harvey Two-Face… NOT YET HE’S NOT.  (SERIOUS BAD GUY SERIOUSLY CLOSING IN)

A WayneTech accountant, Colman Reese, knows who Batman really is (in fact, Batman is really handsome athletic and saucy billionaire Bruce Wayne) will expose it on TV at 5pm to stop the Joker killer from further terror.

The Joker kills his 2nd Mob Boss; one to go.  The Joker burns the Mob’s combined financial holdings, along with Lao.

The Joker makes his biggest terror threat yet: A citizen must kill the Accountant before he spills Batman’s beans or the Joker will blow up a hospital.

Batman saves the Accountant Colman Reese.

The Joker enters Harvey Dent’s hospital ward, and leaves Two-Face behind.

The Joker blows up Gotham General hospital.  Gordon realizes: THEY CAN’T HANDLE THE JOKER: “We’re going to need the National Guard.”  THEY’RE GOING TO NEED A BIGGER BOAT

The Joker makes his biggest terror threat yet: Citizens must “get off the bench” and “into the game”.  The only escape is the Ferries.

Break Into Three (85):
Batman accepts his destiny with the Joker and walks to the dark side: adopting Fox’s sonar cellular phone technology to image the entire city and each inhabitant, Batman risks becoming a monster in order to battle one.  Batman is even seemingly prepared to sacrifice Fox as an ally in order to beat the Joker.   The Batman will NOT step down to the Joker’s demands; in fact he’ll ramp up his war on crime to limits he never guessed he could

Two-Face seeks revenge, flipping a coin to kill or let loose his victims.  (He kills MARONI, the last Mob boss: NOW THE JOKER RULES THE TOWN)

GOTCHA!  The ferries are the Joker’s actual targets.  The ferries must kill the other boat in order to live, or they all die.

But using his immoral unethical surveillance, Batman locates the Joker in the Pruitt Building.

Two-Face lures Gordon away from the battle to save his family from Two-Face’s revenge.

Finale (85-110):
Batman discovers the Joker’s set up his Hostages to look like his Crew.  SWAT is targeting THE HOSTAGES.

Batman beats up SWAT to save the innocents, and ascends to the top floor of the Pruitt Building.

Batman fights the Joker.

Batman saves the Joker from a 60 story plummet.  The Joker is enchanted; he knows now that Batman is truly incorruptible and truly never will kill – not even the Joker – while the Joker will never kill the Batman because he’s too much fun: their life together has only just begun.  The Joker has made Harvey Dent into a villain named Two-Face.

The Batman faces Two-Face and ultimately must kill him to save Gordon’s son.  Sworn to never kill, he’s now killed an ally and friend and his only hope for a normal life.  Sworn to inspire, he now accepts legal responsibility for Two-Face’s crimes so that Harvey Dent’s reputation can continue to inspire.

Finale Image (110):
Batman rides off home, defeated but not beaten, alone and lonely, feared and hunted.
But, he was right all along: BATMAN HAS NO LIMITS


Here’s my fuller synopsis with more notes on the BS2 beats in the script, and some of my annotated thoughts.

A slow PUSH in over a downtown onto a gridded bank of skyscraper windows, square and symmetrical and angular.  Orderly.
BANG!  One explodes – as order will soon explode over all the city.

Bank robbers in Clown masks prepare and execute a daring robbery in daylight.  There’s no 911 on the alarm, it goes to a private number, and the bank manager packs a Shotgun: the Gang, working for a mysterious & absent planner in warpaint make-up calling himself “the Joker”, is robbing a MOB BANK.  The clowns have orders to kill each other to reduce the shares, but the last Clown standing is THE JOKER, and he gets away with a lotta lotta lotta cash to put the next phase of his big plans into action.  You see just how calculating and brilliant this criminal mastermind really is: each Clown has a unique and personal set of instructions on the same robbery, and he escapes by fitting into the after-school traffic.  Also, he’s a bit of a card… the grenade he leaves in the Bank Manager’s mouth is in fact a fake.  GOTCHA!!

In a way I feel this scene is an unusual sorta-kinda CATALYST.  The story started 6months before the opening scene plays; Batman and Gordon (and Dent) are verging on cleaning up the city so Batman can retire —   there’s no movie without the Joker and this heist is how he funds his crusade against Batman, ie. it’s the START OF BATMAN’S TROUBLES.  But I’m not going to argue with you about it…

NIGHT TIME…. The Mayor is questioned about the city’s safety and regarding a vigilante citizen who is known as “the Batman”; Criminals refuse deals at night due to a floodlight emblazoned with a bat-shaped emblem; DETECTIVES WUERTZ and RAMIREZ inform us the Police have NOTHING for suspects on this anonymous vigilante.
LT. GORDON flashes the Bat-Shaped Light half in part to simply remind folks “he’s out there”.  Ramirez has a mother in the hospital

The Scarecrow drugdealer concludes a drug deal with a CHECHEN MOB BOSS in a tiered carpark.  But there’s the BATMAN VIGILANTE… so fast, he’s EVERYWHERE at once.  But it’s not really the Batman vigilante, it’s guys in hockey gear dressed up as him,.
The BATMOBILE crashes into the carpark.  But THE REAL BATMAN is in the carpark, and fights his way through the Chechen Mob’s men and the Scarecrow’s gang and the Chechen’s dogs.  He misses the Scarecrow’s van but eventually stops it with his body.  Batman ties up the criminals AND the “Batmen”.  One demands to know –

THEME STATED: “What makes you so different from me?  WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT?”
This movie is about the moral wrestle of the post-9/11 Western world, and the resulting confusion over everyone else’s totally different perspective & worldview on how to react.  Don’t believe or accept that The Dark Knight either critiques or condones any policy or any leader/party; the movie is apolitical, just a drama about how people wrangle these questions.  Each character struggles to understand how to smartly and effectively react in their New Normal.

Est. Shot – City Offices steps…
Gordon enters, into a locked safe-like room, examining a picture of THE JOKER with Ramirez.  They’re surprised when the Batman vigilante appears from nowhere with a Radioactive Geiger Counter Reader.  EXPOSITION: Batman and Gordon are collaborating to take down crime by marking bills with irradiation to track where the money from drug deals and criminal activity goes into which banks.  They’ve located 5 banks they believe traffic mob money.  “What about this Joker guy?” asks Gordon.  Batman ignores the joker in the deck, which he doesn’t grasp fate is about to slip into his own hand: “One man, or the entire mob?”.
GREEK FATE CATALYST:  Bruce ignores the joker in the deck that destiny is now dealing him.  There’s a new DA; does Gordon trust him?  “It’ll be hard to keep him out.”  Who Gordon trusts is the main thrust of his personal storyline; his story’s Theme Stated is “Do you trust him?”.  Gordon trusts the very wrong people that Dent warns him about.

Morning; a Butler (whose name we will discover is Alfred) carrying tea finds an empty room…

Later, downtown, Alfred enters a storage lot and unlocks a shipping container into a secret elevator into a Bat Garage.  We now discover that the man behind the Batman vigilante we’ve seen fighting crime is in fact a handsome athlete with money named BRUCE who stitches his own wounds.  Bruce’s concerned about dogs and Batman copycats and THE D.A VERSUS THE MOB.  The Joker’s only appearance is his obvious absence.  BRUCE WANTS TO INSPIRE PEOPLE.  Alfred notes things have changed; just look at the new DA.  Can Bruce trust him?  Note: the new DA is dating an ATTRACTIVE WOMAN whom Bruce recognizes as “Rachel”.  He apparently likes this woman, as his expression turns affected and bothered as he insists Rachel can do as she wants.  Alfred cautions Bruce that his alter identity Batman must know his limits; or what will happen the day he suddenly discovers them?  Bruce mocks this caution brashly, not disregarding it naively so much as refusing to regard it sanely.  He’s in denial over the limits of his power in the world, yet he demands of himself that he change the world.

Courtroom: We at last meet the new D.A., HARVEY, and his love interest RACHEL.  He’s brash and cocky – he flips his father’s lucky coin to present the case and we learn he used this same lucky coin to get his first date with Rachel.  Harvey “makes his own luck”.
The mob witness changes his story on the stand and pulls a GUN ON HARVEY!  Harvey knocks him out and takes the gun and challenges MARONI, the head of the Falcone crime organization.  Harvey dramatically continues on with the trial.

Later, leaving the courtroom, Harvey and Rachel discuss Jim Gordon and Harvey’s meeting with him.  Rachel informs Harvey “Jim’s a friend actually”.  Will Harvey remember his true love’s information about Jim in time for the climax?

(Can Gordon and the Dark Knight and the White Knight jail the Mob and restore order to the city?)

Harvey’s office; Harvey knows about the lightly irradiated bills and has determined that Batman’s technology is behind it.  Gordon is combative and hostile.  Harvey knows Gordon and Batman are trying to take the Mob down financially and wants in.  Gordon says No.  Harvey is aggressive – Gordon’s Major Crimes Unit is full of cops Harvey investigated at IA.  Gordon derides Dent as “political”.  Harvey wants Gordon’s trust and Gordon already knows that Harvey is “Gotham’s White Knight” but Harvey’s heard they have a different name for him down at MCU…..

A handsome charming Mentor Figure (whose name we learn is Lucius Fox) meets Mr. LAO from China with the Board; Bruce Wayne DOZES in a chair.
LATER – COLMAN REESE challenges Fox about Bruce’s behavior; Fox puts him in his place by telling him to go do the books again.
LATER – Fox and Bruce discuss Lao’s curious “annual 8% growth” rate; it’s suspicious.  Cancel the deal.  Bruce was already suspicious and needed a closer look at Lao’s books.  Bruce asks Fox about his costume; we learn that Fox is part of the Batman project.

Harvey and Rachel settle into a meal, but Bruce Wayne and NATASHA, a prima ballerina from the ballet, interrupt.  Bruce insults Harvey.
LATER – they discuss the city’s problems and Batman.  Bruce is mean to Harvey and quite obnoxious. Natasha is horrified at the idea of vigilantism; but Bruce is deeply touched by Harvey’s passionate embrace of Batman.  Harvey says he’s ready to take up the caped crusader’s mantle in a legal sense, if he’s up to it.  Harvey notes that YOU DIE A HERO OR LIVE LONG ENOUGH TO SEE YOURSELF BECOME THE VILLAIN.  Harvey re-affirms his devotion to and love for Rachel.  Bruce decides to offer Harvey a fundraiser to set him up for life.

Or, at least,
DAYTIME – a Warehouse location.  Min 21
Lao tele-meets with the 3 Mobs in the city to discuss business.  The little robbery they had recently by a guy in make-up and cheap suit (ie. the opening scene) is nothing to them, they’re worried about the police tracking their money.  Loa knows about the marked bills and the police are moving in NOW
(We see COPS AND SWAT moving in on banks, and then see they are Too Late)
Lao has taken all the money with him, moved all the cash to China, outside of the police’s jurisdiction.  But the Mob’s money is SAFE.  STAKES: Gordon and the Batman lost that round…
“HA HA HA HA HA HA….” A laugh interrupts them and THE JOKER enters the movie at Min 23
He kills a gangster, IMPRESSING the Chechen Mob Head
He taunts them about stealing their money (The suit wasn’t cheap) and taunts them about their fear of Batman.  Did their balls drop off?  He calls them out on their fear and MARONI listens deeply.  So do the other 2 Mob heads.  The Joker knows a squealer and sees Lao is a squealer.  Life is rough for them all because of Batman, and now Dent.  STAKES: In the war between the Batman and the Police versus the Criminal Underworld, the Batman’s side is WINNING.  Dent represents a Second Front threat… the Batman is therefore close to victory. The Joker proposes: WE KILL THE BATMAN.  He wants half.  And he’s not crazy.  Gambol, the 3rd Mob Head, puts a Bounty, dead or alive, on The Joker.  But the Joker is packing grenades for self-defense and leaves his card.

Or, at least,
NIGHT TIME… MCU rooftop; Dent has turned on the Bat-Signal himself in order to meet Batman.  Batman arrives.  Gordon arrives, wary of trouble.  CONFLICT: If Gordon had told Dent about the plan, Dent could have taken Lao’s passport.  Gordon blames Dent’s office for leaking the details to the Mob.  DENT INFORMS GORDON OF HIS MISTRUST AND SUSPICION OF WUERTZ AND RAMIREZ.  GORDON WILL PAY THE PRICE OF TERROR AND MENTAL SCARRING OF HIS CHILDREN BECAUSE HE WAS TOO ARROGANT TO LISTEN TO THE CITY’S WHITE KNIGHT.  GORDON BETS THE FARM ON THE DARK KNIGHT BUT THE WHITE ONE KNOWS GORDON’S COPS BETTER.  If only Gordon had listened, they’d have won and the movie would be called “THE WHITE KNIGHT”
Dent needs Lao back.  Batman hints that he can do so.
Gordon echoes Alfred’s warnings and message about limits: “This is going to get ugly.”

Fox and Bruce leave an office through a secret bookcase door into a huge science lab.  Bruce wants to know how he can into an airplane without landing.  Fox suggests CIA’s SkyHook program.  Fox shows Bruce his new costume armor and Bruce finds the deadly fin-knife-darts on his gauntlets – they Ka-CHING into a wall!

Alfred has found a pilot and an alibi….

Rachel and Harvey discover the ballet has closed because the ballerina Natasha and the entire corps have taken off with Bruce Wayne

Bruce leaves his private yacht of ballet dances to swim to a landing Pontoon Plane.

GAMBOL, the 3rd Mob Head, plays pool and Goons deliver the body of the Joker.  But the Joker is alive (GOTCHA!) The Joker tells Gambol about his abusive drunk father carving his face up as a small child, then KILLS GAMBOL.  (ONE DOWN, TWO TO GO).  The Joker wants the 3 survivors of Gambol’s crew to fight to the death for the right to join his Gang. STAKES: The Joker commences his scheme to seize power from the Mob

DAYTIME in CHINA (Hong Kong)
Corporate Towers.  Lucius Fox checks in and must leave his CELLPHONE at the Front Desk.

He meets with Lao, who is eager to continue the merger talk with Wayne Enterprises.  Fox gets a call on his phone (he has two), which quite offends Lao.  Fox is here to call off the deal and now Lao is REALLY offended.

Fox leaves the building, and security is puzzled that he already has his cellphone.  The first one remains behind in the Front Desk….

Day – Mall walk way arcade
Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox discuss Fox’s new Cellphone Adaptor that maps a location by sonar, just like a …. submarine.

Bruce dresses up as Batman, fitting on his helmeted mask.  Fires out some Timer Projectiles counting down minutes; they INSTA-GLUE onto GLASS WINDOWS and tick seconds away

Fox’s left-behind cellphone cuts down security computers and power to the building with a VIRUS.

BATMAN LEAPS OFF THE TOWER to hang glide around the city.

Lao’s men cock guns, ready for anything.  So they think!

Batman veers IN THROUGH THE WINDOW and fights his way through the room.  Min 36
Guns and fists cannot stop him.  He works stealthily and explosively through the room and grabs LAO.
They are cornered by Lao’s men.  Lao yells “DON’T SHOOT!” in Chinese and Batman waits as the TIMED EXPLOSIVES BLOW UP.  Batman throws a Balloon Buoy out the window, illuminated, and WAITS

An airplane flies overhead and CATCHES the Buoy, RIPPING Batman (and Lao) out the window.

DAYTIME – Ext. Police HQ
Gordon finds Lao with a NOTE: For Lt. Gordon

Rachel Dawes interrogates Lao.  He’s “good with calculation”, he pools all their money, and Harvey Dent realizes they can prosecute under RICO conspiracy laws and get all Mob bosses by charging one.
Gordon insists Lao can’t go to county, he wants them here.  Harvey doesn’t trust Gordon’s men but Lao stays here.

Maroni and Chechen Mob Boss luncheon; Dent on TV discusses Lao’s mysterious rendition to the city.  The Chechen realizes the clown was right; the Batman must be stopped. Min 39:40.  Gordon arrives and compliments HARVEY’S HANDSOME LOOKS (“that boy looks good on the tube”).  But he’s not here to arrest Maroni; he’s here to arrest EVERYBODY.

Harvey’s RICO prosecution idea and Lao’s informant skillz have turned a victory for Batman and Gordon’s war on crime for the sake of the city.

Court…. A Judge (JUDGE CIRILLO) in a courtroom reads out a list of outrageous numbers of counts of frauds and other crimes, finding a JOKER CARD in the briefs; hundreds of lawyers all simultaneously plead “Not guilty!”.

Int. Mayor’s Office – Day
Mayor, Dent and Gordon and Commisioner LOEB; Mayor is furious at this farce.
But Dent points out the process will give them 18 months of clean streets.  The Mayor warns Dent off.  He LIKES the idea but it’s going to get UGLY.  Is Harvey up to it?  <I>Because if they get anything on Harvey, those criminals will all go free.  STAKES: Batman and Gordon’s victory is even closer, but will ride on Harvey’s reputation.  IS Harvey up to it????.  Harvey must remain pure for this to work.  SMACK!!!  Batman’s dead body carved up to look like the Joker hits the Mayor’s window!

The Body is lowered.  It’s on a noose and a Joker card pinned to it asks “WILL THE REAL BATMAN PLEASE STAND UP”

Alfred discusses Bruce’s fundraiser for Harvey Dent.  The Joker killing of “Batman” plays on TV and the news plays a Joker-shot POV video of the killing of the copycat Batman.  The Joker reminds Brian that you DO have to be afraid of people like him.  The Joker has a message: “If you want order, Batman must take off his mask or a person will die every single day.”  He’s a terrorist who promises his kind of order, IF he’s obeyed.
CATALYST: Batman’s existence is pushed into an entirely different direction.  THIS close to shutting down the Mob and cleaning up the city, he himself is targeted by a madman who wants him to stop and knows JUST how to push him…
This is the greatest and most obvious Joker scheme ever invented imo (by Will Murray in BONE) and it was cool to see they used it in this movie

Now Bruce must enter the horrifying and terrifying and grueling, limit-testing GROWTH MACHINE and UP-SIDE DOWN WORLD of Act 2: Gotham City under the rule of fiction’s greatest ever villain.

DEBATE: Will Batman step down in accordance to the Joker terrorist demands?
Evening – Penthouse Tower.  Harvey and Rachel arrive at Bruce’s fundraiser.  He knows Alfred’s name.  FORESHADOWING:  RACHEL’S WHOLE LIFE HASN’T ENDED YET.  Any psychotic ex-boyfriends Harvey should know about?  “You have no idea” replies Alfred.  A HELICOPTER roars in and lands on the terrace and Bruce Wayne enters with 3 supermodels and speaks about Harvey Dent and his belief in Harvey Dent.  We learn that Rachel is Bruce’s oldest friend.  We learn how impassioned Bruce is about Harvey’s potential for the city.  “Look at this face!” he says, praising Harvey’s looks.

LATER – Outside On Terrace.  Rachel accuses Bruce of mocking Harvey. We learn that Bruce has entrusted Rachel with the secret of his vigilante activities. But Bruce has news: Harvey is the new protector.  Bruce sees the light at the end of the tunnel: HE CAN STOP BEING BATMAN AND THEREFORE BE WITH RACHEL.  She has promised to be with him when he stops being Batman.

At POLICE HQ – the Joker card on the body has 3 sets of DNA, says Ramirez to Gordon.  Harvey Dent, Commissioner Loeb, and Judge Cirillo.  Gordon scrambles safety teams, and assigns WUERTZ to find and rescue Harvey Dent.

Police knock on Cirillo’s door.

Gordon searches Loeb’s office.

Even the police don’t know where Cirillo is going.

Harvey is worried about mingling with rich people.

Loeb teaches Gordon to deal with crises with his favorite liquor.

Harvey brings up Rachel and things “you couldn’t stand losing”.  Spending life together.

Cirillo gets in car.

Harvey demands an answer to his Question (ie. marriage).

Gordon realizes Loeb is already drinking the Joker’s poison.

Harvey hopes Rachel’s reluctance isn’t Wayne – as Bruce Wayne STRANGLES Harvey unconscious from behind and locks him in a closet as Rachel FLIPS OUT at him

Judge Cirillo’s car EXPLODES.

Loeb dies as the “liquor” steams on the desk, acidic.

The Joker ARRIVES at Bruce’s Harvey Dent fundraiser.  Min 49  “Where is Harvey Dent?”

Bruce knocks out a goon and disassembles his gun.  He bypasses an alarmed couple and disappears into a Panic Room.

The Joker threatens a Guest.  Rachel interrupts and the Joker tells her how he got these scars: his wife thinks he should smile more, and she lost money to the mob sharks and had her face cut up so he did this to himself, and now she can’t stand the sight of him.  She kicks him in the nuts and he LIKES a little fight in someone.  So he’s going to love BATMAN, who shows up to battle the Joker’s Gang.  The Joker is a poor but enthusiastic fighter.  The Joker repeats his demand that Batman de-mask, and throws Rachel out a window.  Rachel SCREEEEAAAMS as Bruce leaps out the window and catches her and saves her by breaking their fall.

*WHY DON’T THEY BOTH DIE?  No hang glider, no cable gun (which they establish him possessing in Act 3)… this makes little sense to me.  But I get the point: “Batman saves Rachel”.

POLICE HQ – Gordon confers with his Trusted Cop, STEPHENS.
This is an important scene for Gordon, because he fails to take the hint from Destiny. Stephens tells him the prosecutions of the Mob Heads is over; no one’s standing trial while the Joker killer’s out there murdering judges and attacking D.A.’s.  The writing is on the wall.  Gordon wonders about Dent; Stephens scoffs.  “Dent’s halfway to Mexico!”… but DENT IMMEDIATELY ENTERS.  Again, GORDON SHOULD HAVE TRUSTED DENT BEFORE AND SHOULD TRUST HIM NOW… YET STILL FAILS TO ACT RE: WUERTZ & RAMIREZ.  Gordon and Gordon’s children will pay because Gordon STILL doesn’t see or accept the signs that Dent can be trusted.


Dent is here to talk to Lao.  He brought a bulletproof vest to keep Lao alive.

B-STORY – Alfred the Butler becomes Alfred the Half-Man
In the Bat-Garage, Bruce and ALfred confer regarding the Joker killer case.  Bruce is angry at the MOB, not at THE JOKER… he blames them for the Joker pushing things this far.  Alfred reminds him Bruce brought this on himself by bullying them – what did he expect was going to happen?  Bruce scoffs that criminals aren’t complicated, they just needed to know what the Joker wants.  But Alfred tells Bruce a sinister story about a convoy/jewel thief in Burma who simply tossed away all his stolen jewels: Some men just want to watch the world burn.  Alfred believes The Joker killer is a man that Bruce doesn’t yet fully understand.

NIGHT – City skyline, Batman listens to a police scanner on a ROOFTOP and overhears a call about “finding Harvey Dent at 8th and Orchard”.

Int. Apartment – 2 dead men slump on the table, faces carved into smiles; Richard Dent and Patrick Harvey = Harvey Dent.  His plan to kill Harvey Dent last night a failure, the Joker killer has murdered two cops and left a threat against the MAYOR HIMSELF tomorrow in a spoof edition of tomorrow’s paper.  Batman saws a bullethole out of the brick wall: he tells Gordon he’s looking for a FINGERPRINT…

BAT-GARAGE – Bruce and Alfred load bullets into a serial-repeating gun which fires into BRICKS.  Bruce selects a brick that’s most like the sawed piece he has, and LASER SCANS it in a computer chamber.

DAYLIGHT at Wayne Tech – Colman Reese did as Fox asked and looked over the Wayne accounts and found R&D mysterious “re-assigned”… and KNOWS THAT BRUCE WAYNE IS BATMAN.  He wants 10 Million annually for life and Fox calls his bluff: no one can blackmail a powerful wealthy man who beats up people with his bare hands.  Colman Reese wavers and leaves.

Bat-Garage – or Wayne Tech — Fox and Bruce re-assemble the digital display of the smashed bullet and find a THUMBPRINT.  Fox discovers that Bruce did in fact re-assign R&D… he learns Bruce is hiding things: “I’m playing this one pretty close to the chest”.

DAY – DOWNTOWN – throngs of cops and citizens congregate for Loeb’s funeral, including the MAYOR, and the Media reminds us of the Joker killer’s threats.

Bat-Garage – Bruce and Alfred track the Thumbprint to “Melvin White” in an apartment overlooking the funeral and Bruce takes off on his red motorcycle.

The Police parade downtown, including Dent and Ramirez and Gordon’s Trusted Cop Stephens.

Bruce pulls up close by and enters Melvin White’s.
The plaza is overlooked by a LOT of windows which concerns the police.

Mayor commences his speech.

Bruce enters apartment and finds MEN in underwears tied up and blindfolded.

Gordon listens to Mayor speak, scanning the area.

Bruce questions a MAN – “they took our guns and uniforms”.  Bruce sees a telescopic sight at a window blind but fails to see the Timer attached to the blind.

The Cops FIRE in salute.

The Timer goes off and the Blind RETRACTS… attracting COP FIRE (ON BRUCE)



Cops scatter and shots ring out all around as people panic.  GORDON IS DEAD.  WHIFF OF DEATH

Dent sends Rachel away to safety, then bears down on the SUSPECT the police have in custody. “Tell me what you know about the Joker”.  But the Guy giggles only, and names RACHEL DAWES as the next Joker victim, taunting, and Dent DECIDES and DRIVES AWAY, taking the frightened suspect with him.

Stephens and Ramirez inform Mrs Gordon of Jim’s Death.  She spies Batman overheard and accuses him of responsibility for the Joker’s crimes.  “You brought this madness on us!  You did!”

It’s ALMOST a Moment of Grace, but is just food for thought so far for Bruce.

ROOF – MCU – Stephens and the Cops turns off the Bat-Signal.  They know Batman doesn’t want to talk to them.

INT. NIGHTCLUB – Maroni notices a disturbance – BATMAN fights his way through the crowd, closer and closer and closer to Maroni.

INT. MCU – Dent informs Rachel Gordon is dead.  The Joker’s named her next.  Dent suggests Rachel go to Bruce’s penthouse if she really trusts him.

ROOFTOP – Batman drops Maroni off a roof and breaks his ankles.  HE WANTS THE JOKER.  Maroni informs Batman that the Joker has won over the city because Batman has rules and the Joker has none.  But Batman already could have stopped the killing… by taking his mask off and turning himself in.  “Or are you going to let more people die while you make up your mind?”  MOMENT OF GRACE.  Bruce has just seen a horrible, horrible truth which he’ll expound on soon: HE KNOWS NOW HE CAN’T WIN VERSUS THE JOKER KILLER

Meanwhile, Harvey Dent threatens the Suspect with a Gun and Russian Roulette via his Lucky Coin, flipping.  He let’s “chance” (forced by him) decide.  Batman stops him.  DOESN’T HARVEY GET IT?  THE MAYOR WARNED HIM ALREADY.  IF HARVEY CAN’T STAY CLEAN, ALL THOSE PROSECUTIONS WALK.  Batman knows the suspect is a paranoid schizophrenic.  Harvey’s a symbol of hope.  If anyone saw this, EVERYTHING they’ve accomplished will be for nothing.  Batman has made a decision: to surrender to the Joker and turn over the city’s protection to Harvey Dent.
Harvey flips out: YOU CAN’T GIVE IN!!!  YOU CAN’T!!!
STAKES: Batman surrenders to the Joker

Night – Penthouse – Bruce and Rachel.  Rachel knows he’s turning himself in and doubts it will stop the Joker’s terror spree.  Bruce reveals his turmoil: He’s glimpsed what he would have to become, in order to stop men like the Joker.  And Bruce knows he doesn’t have that in him.
Bruce makes a play for Rachel… he’s giving up Batman, and she said she’d be there for him.  He kisses her.  But she warns him that if he turns himself in, they can’t be together.

GARAGE – Bruce and Alfred pack up all the Bat-paraphernalia that links to Lucius or Rachel.  Alfred coaxes Bruce to stay in action, to endure.  Bruce knows he cannot endure this horror, though.  END OF DEBATE: Batman will retire.

BREAK INTO 2: Harvey stops Batman’s plan to give in to the Joker
PRESS CONFERENCE –  City Hall lobby or etc.  Harvey Dent urges the city to tolerate Batman.  Yes, he’s an outlaw, but people aren’t worried about his status, they’re SCARED OF THE JOKER.  They should stand against the Joker’s threats.  Harvey acknowledges their fear: Things ARE worse than ever.  Batman must answer to the CITY, not the Joker terrorist.  People demand Batman surrender, and Harvey agrees.  “I am the Batman” he announces, submitting to arrest.

RACHEL IS SHOCKED.  Bruce just stood by.  Alfred tells her Batman and Harvey both agree that the Joker’s whims are not the law.  Rachel gives Alfred a LETTER, unsealed, to present when the time is right.

MCU – Rachel and Dent.  Cops applaud Dent.  Dent’s being transferred to holding and Rachel is upset that Dent is risking himself.  What if Batman fails to stop the Joker?  He has so far.  Dent flips for it — but reveals to Rachel that the coin he uses is a trick phony with two heads.  He gives her the coin.

Harvey is transported in a SWAT van in a SWAT convoy through the city which has been cleared of all traffic for them.

STREET – a truck driver honks at a cop.  THE JOKER kills the cop suddenly, riding with the trucker.

FUN AND GAMES – A long urban road chase between the Hero & Nemesis
But they run into a creepy visual… a lone abandoned firetruck, in flames.  They must detour onto the “turkey shoot” of Lower 4th.

On lower 4th, the convoy is attacked by a garbage truck which takes out cop cars and forces the Swat Convoy to proceed — they can’t stop or brake now. STAKES: the city’s Great White Knight Hope is ambushed by the Joker

The Joker’s tractor trailer drives alongside and casually rains the convoy with bullets.  But they brought a ROCKET LAUNCHER too and the Joker starts taking out cop cars, leaving only Harvey’s van.

THE BATMOBILE SAVES THE SWAT VAN, taking out the garbage truck, and returning to the convoy.  Bruce is determined to use Dent’s sacrifice and risk to catch and stop the Joker, AND SAVE DENT, and uses the Batmobile to stop the Joker’s bazooka blast at Harvey.
The Batmobile crashes after taking the RPG.

The SWAT continues and the Joker takes over the tractor trailer wheel.

The Batmobile has suffered catastrophic damage, and the SWAT van and Truck leave Lower 4th to get above ground and seek air support.

Batman ejects the BatPod from the wreckage and continues as the Batmobile SELF-DESTRUCTS.

SKY – downtown air support moves in to help.

The SWAT van and Tractor Trailer move into downtown streets.

Batman races through traffic.

Joker’s Men downtown send harpoon cables across the street in the night.

Batman blasts his way through obstacles and traffic.

the Air Support copter hits the Joker’s Cables and CRASHES.  The SWAT van escapes.
The Joker laughs.

Batman races through a shopping plaza on the BatPad.

The Joker pursues the SWAT van ferrying Dent.


Batman wire-cables the tractor-trailer to LAMPPOSTS and the TRUCK FLIPS AND CRASHES.

The SWAT van stops.

Batman races in.

The Joker has survived.  He climbs out of the truck and MACHINE GUNS a passing sedan and INVITES BATMAN TO KILL HIM.  Batman closes in on his motorcycle.  The Joker fires “warning shots” to egg Batman on.  “Come on” urges the Joker, “I want you to do it”.  Batman ROARS, tested to his limit – HE CANNOT DO IT and SWERVES AND CRASHES TO AVOID THE JOKER    MIDPOINT: he should have killed the Joker when he had the chance, as will become clear later.  False Victory: Batman’s values and morals are intact and the Joker has been caught without spilling any blood.  But buckets more will be spilled and Batman will eventually have to break his rule against killing by killing his only hope, Harvey Dent, because he upheld his values at the “wrong” time (now) and let the Joker live.
***I’m not saying Batman “should” have killed the Joker (I would have!) or that the movie suggests Batman was “wrong” to not do so… there’s no moral appraisal of Batman here, it’s just an If-Only hindsight

Batman crashes, unconscious.  The Joker knows he’s won now… this Batguy’s a pussy.  A GOON is electrocuted trying Batman’s mask.  The Joker is CAUGHT by… Lt. Gordon.  STAKES: They abandoned the Mob to focus on the Joker and now they have him

False Victory: Harvey’s a modest hero with the media.  Lt. Gordon is in fact alive, Batman has caught the Joker, Dent is not really Batman, Dent praises the real heroes, the police.  Dent trusted that Batman would “save my ass”.  Order has been restored and the Joker killings have stopped.  Immediately, the BAD GUYS BEGIN TO CLOSE IN, although we don’t yet realize it: Ramirez puts Dent in a cruiser driven by Wuertz, the exact cops Dent warned Gordon about.

INT. MCU – the Joker’s booked.  The Joker has no name or prints or identity. The Mayor promotes Gordon to Commissioner. Cops and the Joker killer applaud.

Mrs. Gordon SLAPS Jim but kisses him, too.

A COPKILLER W/STOMACH CRAMPS is put into holding with the Joker.

Gordon touches his sleeping son’s locks: this time, dad saved Batman.  All is right in Gordon’s world now.  But the BAD GUYS CLOSE IN when his phone rings….

MCU… Gordon rushes in past his cops to interrogate the Joker.  HARVEY DENT NEVER MADE IT HOME.  STAKES: Even in jail, the Joker is just as dangerous… (if not mores)   The Joker won’t talk, but  taunts that Gordon’s men are really Maroni’s, and acknowledges that HARVEY IS IN MORTAL DANGER

Good cop, Bad cop.  Batman interrogates the Joker.  Bad Guys Close In: The Joker has a maniacal platonic non-sexual homosexual crush on Batman: “YOU COMPLETE ME”.   The Joker reveals he was never going to kill Batman, he was playing the Mob Men all along.  He’s only testing Batman: “I wanted to see what you’d do.” The Joker has no faith in society’s morals or codes – it’s a bad joke.  People are only as good as the world allows.  Civilized people will eat each other and he’ll prove it to Batman.  The Joker needs Batman to learn to live without rules and tonight Batman will have to break his one rule.   More Bad Guys: it’s not just Harvey.  The Joker also has Harvey (and Bruce’s) GIRLFRIEND, RACHEL DAWES.  The Joker gives the two addresses — but only one can be saved.

Batman hurtles after Rachel on Avenue X and Cicero, and Gordon and cops rush to save Harvey Dent at 250 52nd Street.

Harvey wakes up in a warehouse wired to oildrums.  He can talk via speakerphone to RACHEL who is in the same predicament.

Int. Interrogation: The Joker wants his phonecall.  He wants it.  He wants his phonecall.  How many of Stephens’s friends has the Joker killed?  Six.  Six??!!

The COPKILLER BEGS for help for the pain inside.  He collapses and cops open the lockup cage.

Rachel informs Dent what the Joker told her: their friends must choose which of them will live.  Harvey assures her they’ll save her.  RACHEL KNOWS BATMAN WILL SAVE HER and takes pity on Dent, trying to talk him through to his death and make it all okay.  Harvey struggles and lands in GASOLINE, soaking his face.

The Joker taunts Stephens.  He knows which of the six were cowards.  Does Stephens want to know….?
Stephens cop bites on the bait and removes his jacket to get dirty…

Cops and Medics determine the Copkiller has a SERIOUS contusion.


The Joker marches into MCU offices with Stephens at knifepoint.  Stephens begs the Other Police: “It’s my own damn fault just SHOOT him!!” but the Other Cops are TOTAL PUSSIES and SURRENDER TO THE TERRORIST’S DEMANDS, GIVING HIM WHAT HE WANTS: his phonecall.

Harvey gurgles in the gasoline.

The Joker calls on a cellphone.

The Copkiller’s CONTUSION lights up. Is that a phone?  The Copkiller EXPLODES.

STREETS – Gordon orders cops to mount the curb!


Rachel tearfully says good-bye to Harvey, knowing he’s going to die.  She admits her love and gives her Answer, which is YES, she wants to marry Harvey Dent.

Harvey SCREAMS as Batman runs in and Rachel hears: “Why are you coming for me?!  No!”  In fact, the Joker was JUST KIDDING about the addresses.  GOTCHA!  He’s a real card.

The Joker just told us that people show you who they really are in their last moments, and Rachel’s a brave and calm fighter.  ALL IS LOST: Rachel DIES. (WHIFF OF DEATH – Batman saves Harvey Dent but the explosion ignites Harvey’s face.  Next cut: The Joker brings the KEYS to Accountant Lao’s MCU cell.  HARVEY’S RICO PROSECUTIONS JUST FELL APART

Gordon surveys the wreckage at 250 52nd Street.  He knows now that the Joker has escaped from MCU with Lao after an explosion.  Gordon realizes the False Victory: the Joker WANTED to be caught, he LET Gordon catch him and Gordon played along, handing over Lao.

Streets – Dawn – the Joker leans out of a cop cruiser into the rush of wind.

Batman looks over Rachel’s deathscene as medics wrap Harvey’s face and Alfred opens THE LETTER: Rachel doesn’t believe Bruce can ever stop living as Batman and is saying good-bye.  IRONY.  In fact Bruce IS willing to give up Batman, and eager to do so in order to have Rachel.  Rachel misinterprets Bruce’s allowing Dent to take his place at BREAK INTO TWO as a “need for Batman” when it’s really a recognized opportunity to save lives.  Batman finds Harvey’s lucky coin (REALIZING HARVEY WAS NEVER GOING TO KILL THOMAS SCHIFF THE SCHIZOPHRENIC), and leaves the coin at Harvey’s hospital bedside.

DAWN – Bruce’s penthouse.  Bruce has a serious crisis; he was meant to inspire good.  Remember Bruce in Act 1: HE INVENTED BATMAN TO INSPIRE PEOPLE.  Alfred: What the hell did Bruce expect was going to happen???  There were always going to be casualties; things were always going to deteriorate before they improved.  Gotham needs a hero.  But Bruce let the Joker blow that hero half to hell.  Rachel was going to wait, says Bruce, heartbroken – Dent can never know.  Alfred reflexively snatches up Rachel’s letter… seeing that Bruce cannot endure any more heartache, his psychological and emotional limit has just been hit.  Bruce is ready and hungry for knowledge from the Half-Man who has battled Lack of Reason before Bruce: DID YOU GET THAT THIEF?  Yes, says Alfred.  But it’s bad news, because Bruce wants to know How.  “We burned the forest down” replies Alfred, delivering a BAD GUY CLOSING IN: Bruce will have to burn the rest of his forest down if he wants to salvage any hope out of this situation.

HOSPITAL – Harvey Dent wakes up and feels that half of his face is under gauze and in agony and someone has left the Lucky Coin HE GAVE TO RACHEL DAWES on his nightstand, and one side is blackened in the explosion he feared had happened to Rachel.  Now he knows it did. 1:39  Harvey is in INTENSE EMOTIONAL TURMOIL

NEWS.  Mike Engels prepares us for a shock: a citizen who knows Batman has waited long enough and will reveal Batman’s true identiy at 5pm. STAKES

HOSPITAL – Gordon visits Harvey.  He’s sorry about Rachel.  Harvey refusing painmeds and skingrafts.  Harvey insists Gordon say “the name”… it’s Two-Face.  The cops all called him Two-Face.  Gordon KNOWS Dent was right, he should have listened.  He knows Wuertz picked Harvey up, is Wuertz with them?
But Harvey has the human answer that I’d give: “Why would you listen to me now???”
Gordon refused Harvey’s trust and help when it mattered.  Now Harvey withholds and makes Gordon forge on alone.  Bitterness has taken over Harvey completely now.  Gordon says he’s sorry but Two-Face shows his full, horrible head to us, and a BAD GUY CLOSES IN as Two-Face swears that, “No, you’re not.  Not yet.”

Gordon exits Dent’s ward in a heavy mood. Maroni’s outside… and Maroni knows the craziness has gone on too long now.  He turns in the Joker to the cops: he knows where the Joker will be this afternoon.

The Joker greets the Chechen Mob Boss; they have ALL THE MOB MONEY AND LAO.

Gordon scrambles a unit.

The Joker has a surprise – he doesn’t care about money.

Gordon’s unit prepares to rescue Lao and arrest the Joker terrorist.  But someone’s got the TV on at the station, and Colman Reese is about to reveal Batman’s real identity.  “God knows we need Dent now”.

The Joker burns all the money.  Just his half!!!  He can’t help it if the other half burns as well!!  GOTCHA!  He makes a quick call…. to send a message:

Gordon’s unit watches as the Joker makes his new threat: If Colman Reese isn’t dead in 60 minutes, the Joker blows up a hospital.

BAD GUYS CLOSE IN… Gordon must stop his scramble to arrest the Joker.  They must evacuate all hospitals and escort Reese to safety.  Gordon can’t act on Maroni’s suggestion because the flames are breaking out all over and there’s no more time to focus and organize.  The fit has really hit the shan now.

Gotham General begins evacuation as Bruce Wayne races in his Lambourghini to reach downtown.

An angry mob assembles outside the TV studio; a MAN FIRES ON REESE.  Gordon scrambles out the back to keep Reese alive.  Bruce and Alfred over cellphones track which cops have family in Gotham hospitals.

Gotham General: massive evacuation scene.  A cop wonders where his partner Davis is, and re-enters the hospital.

Bruce commands Alfred to send the information to Gordon.  RAMIREZ & BERG have family in hospital.

The cop enters Harvey Dent’s ward but the Nurse is really THE JOKER.  BANG.

Gordon realizes Berg in his truck with a rifle is a threat to Reese’s safety.

The Joker awakens Harvey Dent and begins his “little push” against sanity.  He has no plan.  All he does is show schemers that schemes trying to control are fruitless and pathetic.  There IS no control.

Gordon needs Berg’s weapon.  Berg knows that Gordon knows Berg’s wife is in the hospital.

The Joker shows Two-Face how pointless his own schemes were, as Harvey Dent.

Bruce Wayne spots a citizen about to crash into Reese and Gordon.

The Joker shows Two-Face that people only care about THE PLAN.  Why is the Mayor’s life worth more than a soldier’s?????  TWO-FACE IS LISTENING TO THE JOKER’S SEDUCTION.  The Joker offers his LIFE to Two-Face.  HE IS AN AGENT OF CHAOS.   All the Joker wants is to bring down the city’s hope and if Harvey Dent kills him, that’s a great start.  He says at the end “he’d never bet anything on a fistfight with Batman.  You need an ace in the hole and mine’s Harvey”.  If he can get Harvey to kill him here, he wins — the DA White Knight will have bypassed the legal system for personal revenge, and the schemes and plans of society’s builders will be shown to be nothing compared to the Animal Instincts of “Civilized People”, who the Joker believes will eat each other.   But it’s better than the Joker could have hoped for… because Harvey has found a system of chance of determining life or death — his scarred Lucky Coin.  Good heads=life, bad heads=death.

Bruce Wayne saves Gordon’s truck from being rammed.


Bruce Wayne’s an airhead who never watches the news.  Colman Reese is shocked to see Bruce Wayne has saved him!!!

The Joker commences blowing up the hospital.
Mike Engels and crew and others board a bus as the Joker completes the hospital’s total destruction.   There’s a bus you’ll never see again!

BAD GUYS CLOSE IN FURTHER – Gordon hears the blast blocks away, and he knows it’s Gotham General.
On-site, Gordon needs to know where Harvey Dent is but the BAD GUYS have hit Gordon hard, he knows he has lost all control of the city in the face of the Joker’s terror spree: We’re gonna need the National Guard… iow: We’re going to need a bigger boat.  STAKES: Gordon realizes: They’re lost control of the city to the Joker

The NEWS reveals Mike Engels and a bus is missing.
A BAR watches the newscast.

Lucius Fox hears of a break-in down at R&D.  He goes.
It’s a massive computer project.

The City — helicopters and bomb-dogs and National Guard sweep the city.

Wuertz takes a drink.  Bartender takes a link.  But TWO-FACE enters and flips for Wuertz’s life.  Wuertz’s life loses.  IN THE JOKER’S TOWN, THE EX-D.A. ARCHANGEL IS A CRAZED REVENGE-DRUNK VILLAIN

BATMAN reveals to Fox the computer project.  Beautiful.  Unethical.  Dangerous.  The Batman took the sonar concept and spread it over the whole city.  The Batman can spy on the whole city.  This is WRONG.  It’s TOO MUCH POWER.  But the Batman wants Fox to do it.  Batman MUST find the Joker and can use a sound clip of the Joker’s terror broadcasts to triangulate the downtown location of the Joker’s next phone call.  Fox is disgusted and his faith in Wayne and the Batman are profoundly shaken.  Acknowledging the dire straights they find themselves in, Fox agrees to help this one time only, but after that, he resigns.  He will not be in the same building as this deplorable machine is.  The Batman doesn’t care about Fox’s resignation, Ahab-focused on his white whale, the Joker killer.  He accepts the resignation: “When you’re finished type in your name.”  BREAK INTO THREE: Batman accepts his earlier vision: “what he would have to become in order to stop men like the Joker”.  He is no longer here to inspire people; that balloon has burst.  His job is to fight crime and save lives and now he’ll do whatever it takes.  Dangerous?  Unethical?  Ally-disappointing?  Ally-losing?  To hell with it – all of it.  He only has one rule, anyway… and illegal surveillance isn’t that one rule.  He’s ready to burn the forest down to find this man

DAY – DOWNTOWN – a massive traffic jam on the water’s edge; people want to leave.  STAKES: People have lost hope.  They are ready to ditch the city
Gordon in Mayor’s office is combing the city.  Gordon’s using the ferries to get some of Harvey’s prisoners away, imagining the Joker’s plan will involve them.
They haven’t located Harvey Dent yet.
STAKES: The Mayor can’t imagine the city’s odds of civic success sans Harvey Dent.  He pauses and reflects longer than any other character in the movie, then chooses Dishonesty and Deceit: “How long can you keep this quiet?”

DOCK AREA – Maroni shown to his limo.  Two-Face is inside.  Maroni surrenders the name of RAMIREZ.  Two-Face flips and Maroni lives.  But Two-Face straps in and flips for the driver’s life… bad heads and the car CRASHES.

The only serious weakness I find with this script is in this section, when I feel Two-Face should flip for the life of a little girl or baby or etc in a burning building (there’s lots of them in this city today) or some equivalent.  Harvey’s an agent of chance, but in this movie he’s only allowed to be an agent of ‘bad’ chance.  Harvey Dent/Two-Face is a complex/simplistic character and he’s not as rich in this story as he really truly is..

WATERFRONT – DAY – People protest that prisoners are given a Ferry.
Two ferries depart (it’s now NIGHTTIME)

But the FERRIES lose power.  Presumably, there is in fact nothing wrong at for “the bridge and tunnel crowd”.  GOTCHA!!!

The Batman alerts Fox to the problem with the ferries.

The ferries discover BOMBS and TRIGGERS.  The Joker terrorist has driven people to compete madly to board the ferries to avoid the bridge and tunnel paths… but it’s a TRAP.  Leave the ferry, everyone dies.  Blow up the other boat, your boat can live.  If no one blows up a boat, the Joker will blow them all up. FINALE (STAGE 1) ENGAGED

Lucius Fox triangulates the Joker’s location.  West.
The Batman radios Commissioner Gordon – the Joker’s in the underconstruction Pruitt Building.  Assemble on the building opposite.

Mrs. Gordon gets a call from ANNA RAMIREZ, who tells them to mistrust the cops outside and go to an address (Rachel’s death scene).  TWO-FACE has forced Ramirez to call.  He flips and Ramirez lives.  FINALE (STAGE 2) POSITIONS ITSELF… or, more GATHERING THE TEAM (laying foundation for Stage 2)

Gordon assembles opposite the Pruitt Building.  It’s a shooting gallery… the Joker’s Gang in Clown masks are in plain well-lit view, stationary, with DOCTORS trussed up on the ground as hostages.  The Batman arrives: with the Joker it’s never that simple.
The citizen’s ferry commences a paper vote re: the trigger on the prisoner’s boat.

The prisoner’s begin to rally for the tripper to the citizen’s ferry.

The Batman needs 5 minutes in the Pruitt Building.  But Gordon is desperate, terrified that Harvey Dent is being held in the Pruitt Building.  He refuses the Batman the 5 minutes but the Batman heads in regardless.  Gordon gives 2 minutes.

Batman hang glides into a Clown through a window.

Mrs. Gordon calls Gordon: “we’re in trouble.”

Fox gives the Batman Sonar Vision of the Pruitt Building.

Gordon needs Barbara to calm down but STAKES: “HE HAS THE KIDS!”, Barbara screams.  “Hello Jim,” says Two-Face.  Gordon realizes with horror that Harvey never needed any saving at all…. Whiff of HIGH TOWER SURPRISE?

SWAT team prepares to assault the Pruitt Building.

Batman notices something strange about the Clown gang and Doctor hostages… and discovers the Clowns are the Hostages and the SWAT TEAM IS COMING TO KILL THEM ALL.  GOTCHA!!!!!!

The Batman assaults the SWAT Team assault on the Pruitt Builidng and beats and batters his way through the Joker’s GANG – the DOCTORS, saving all the Masked Clown from the mistaken SWAT TEAM.  Lucius Fox is at Bruce’s back and guides him through the building’s various SWAT teams.

The citizens have voted to destroy the prisoners.  But the Captain holds off.

On the Prisoner’s ferry, TINY LISTER mulls the situation and what he can do about it………..

The Batman battles more mistaken SWAT teams and saves more Clowns…. he is caught now.  But escapes and diverts the SWAT, and fires his cable gun…
The Batman “flies” up higher into the unfinished Pruitt Building, heading for a final confrontation with the Joker terrorist.

Top Floor – the Joker awaits with 3 dogs.  He greets Batman, who wants the detonator.  The dogs attack, and so does the Joker, when he can find an opening.

The SWAT team battle the DOCTORS as Batman fights for his life versus THREE rottweilers and the Joker and a cargo net.

Tiny Lister makes his Big Choice and all the Prisoners watch as this Leader of Men approaches the Captain of the Ferry.  “You want to live but you don’t know how to take a life,” he intones.

The Aggressive Citizen takes it upon himself to take the citizen’s detonator and destroy the prisoners.

The Joker bests the Batman in hand-to-hand-to-dog combat.  The Batman is losing.

Tiny Lister Jedi mindtricks the Captain into surrendering the trigger… but he throws it out the window.

The Joker gloats but the Batman insists there shall be no fireworks.

Incredulously, as in unbelievably, the Aggressive Citizen fails to detonate the prisoner’s boat (which is probably smart as it’s probably the detonator to their own bombs… just saying!)   This is a weak part of the Finale.  SOMEone on this boat would HAPPILY take the Verdict To Destroy and push the trigger.  Someone should have talked Aggressive Citizen out of it… “better to die a victim than live as a murderer, make HIM do the dirty work, don’t take it on!” or the obvious “jesus it’s the Joker! It’s probably OUR bomb trigger!”

The Joker is stunned when the ferries don’t detonate.  The Batman mocks him.  Joker preps to blow the ferries but the Batman uses his Gauntlet Darts to shoot the Joker and throw him over the edge.
The Joker LAUGHS all the way down…. but the Batman saves the Joker’s life with his Cable Gun.
The Joker is delighted: “You won’t kill me out of misplaced self-righteousness, and I won’t kill you because you’re too much fun.  We’re destined to do this forever.”
The Joker has the last and biggest of all BAD GUY to close in: he’s turned Harvey Dent into a villain just like he and the Batman; madness is just like gravity, all it takes is a little push.  The Joker laughs and guffaws and chortles as the Batman leaves and SWAT arrives.  HIGHTOWER SURPRISE AGAIN

Finale: DIG DOWN DEEP: Now the Batman vigilante and Commissioner Gordon must face and defeat their friend and “ally”, Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face
Meanwhile, at 250 52nd Street, Gordon rushes in to his family but Two-Face knocks him from behind.  Two-Face is bitter because Gordon refused to listen to Harvey’s cautions.  Gordon is actually quite unsympathetic and justifies himself rather than accepting responsibility (because truly, Harvey WAS right all along, and Gordon DID ignore Harvey’s cautions).

Two-Face is only going to test the life of the person Gordon loves most… and it’s the BOY, JIMMY, who must now face Two-Face’s coin.  Barbara Gordon weeps desperately.  Gordon apologizes now (too late).  Cops and dogs assemble outside; Two-Face is stunned Gordon brought his cops.  “You think I want to escape from this?  There IS no escape from this!”
The Batman arrives to talk Harvey out of it.  But the world is cruel, and the only morality is chance.
But the Batman insists Rachel’s death wasn’t chance.
The Batman insists the Joker has treated Harvey to such torment because Harvey was the Best Of Them, NOT because of cruel chance.  Batman suggests the Joker reacted against Batman, Dent, and Gordon, not Gordon’s son. ATTEMPT TO EXECUTE A NEW PLAN: divert Two-Face from Jimmy to the men. Two-Face agrees and flips for Batman’s life.  Bad heads — Two-Face executes the Batman.  Two-Face tests his own life and lives.  Now it’s Jimmy’s turn.  “Punish me,” pleads Gordon.  “I’m about to,” warns Two-Face.  Two-Face wants Gordon to lie as Harvey lied, and Gordon tells Jimmy that he’ll be safe.
Finale: EXECUTION OF REAL NEW PLAN: As Two-Face flips BATMAN HURLS HIMSELF INTO JIMMY AND TWO-FACE, taking all three over the edge!  Mrs. Gordon SCREAMS!   Batman kills Two-Face to save the younger James’s life, breaking his promise to never kill.  He may have hoped Harvey would survive, he may have focused purely on the boy, he may have acted in desperation, but his plan has ALWAYS been to “first do no harm” in never killing.  That’s gone out the window and by failing to kill the Joker when he “should” have (when I certainly would have!), Bruce has killed with his own hands his only shot at ever regaining a normal life

But the Batman has Jimmy in hand, hanging on.  Two-Face/Harvey Dent is dead below.  Batman hands over Jimmy and plummets.

But Batman survives.
The Joker is victorious.  2:21.  Harvey’s prosecution is over.  The city’s chances die with Harvey’s reputation.
People will lose hope.
So Batman accepts responsibility for Two-Face’s crimes, and leaves the city’s White Knight’s reputation intact.
Gordon can’t agree with this resolution, it’s too much.  But the Batman knows that he’s not a hero, so he can do those things: because Harvey was right all along – you die a hero or live long enough to become the villain.
The dogs and cops will hunt Batman, but Batman can endure it.  Bruce created Batman to inspire and now sees his entire life’s work unravel horribly as he is forced to not inspire hope but fear and terror, assuming the terrorist mantle of the Joker and Two-Face in order to assume the fall for the greater good which he believes in with such conviction.

The Batman escapes on his Bat-Pod bike as a FutureFlash shows Gordon speaking at Dent’s funeral, and Gordon destroying the Bat-Signal, a cut reveals Alfred burning Rachel’s Letter, and another reveals Lucius Fox typing in his name into the Monstrous Spy Computer System to resign: but his faith in Bruce Wayne and the Batman project is rewarded when he discovers this password actually disables and destroys the system which Fox despises.

Jimmy wonders why Batman must run; he didn’t do anything wrong.
Gordon informs Jimmy it’s because the Batman is the hero the city needs, not the one it deserves.  He’s… THE DARK KNIGHT.

Lonely and alone, hunted, friendless, dispirited, badly beaten yet still undefeated, tested by a fire he never knew existed, punished for laughing at the imminence of consequences and mocking cautions of his limits, the Batman races up an exit ramp onto the highways of Gotham City: THE END.

He was right all along, though: Batman HAS NO LIMITS