The Dark Knight's "No Success"
How did this film succeed? What is success? What is The Dark Knight?
Wow, have I been gone a long time! Well, I’m back and ready to rumble. To start off my new wave of articles, I bring you the reasons why The Dark Knight was a success. Now, this article may mean next to nothing to many of you because you know why this movie was a success. You are also probably tired of hearing those three words too - The Dark Knight - despite how much you like the movie. However, this article is for the ignorant, the small-minded, and/or the ill-informed amongst moviegoers, comic book geeks, and the general public. Below, I will clear up why The Dark Knight was a success. Now, let us get to it.
1) The Marketing: All major movies have some kind of marketing ploy. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight played a viral marketing campaign that had never been seen before. Sure, many films have had viral marketing campaigns where the reality of the film melds with our own. Fans are given the opportunity to become one with the movie’s universe. They can read the Daily Bugle, help build Stark’s newest destructive weapon, or help Gotham PD track down the whereabouts of Dr. Jonathan Crane.
But this time around, one movie did it bigger and better than any movie had ever done – The Dark Knight. Their decision not to show up at 2008’s San Diego Comic-Con but rather to use it as the launch for their campaign, where fans had their faced painted like the Joker and marched throughout the streets of San Diego. Not to mention there was that plane in the sky with that phone number… hmm.
No doubt, Warner Brothers went all the way with campaigning for this movie, and it paid off in the end. The film had plenty of media coverage, and yes, Heath's death did exacerbate it. Which brings us to the overstuffed second point which is, in fact, about five different points in one.
2) Heath Ledger’s Death/It’s the G**damn Batman/Joker: Now, many say the movie wouldn’t have made a penny had Heath not died. That, my friend, is absolute bull. True, Heath’s death did attract some non-Batman fans or non-comic book fans to see the film who, otherwise wouldn’t have seen it. Yet if anyone with half of a brain took certain factors into consideration, they’d know that these people only amounted to, at most, $100 million of the film’s gross which stood at roughly $960 million before its January re-release.
First, this is Batman. This character has been around since 1939 and spawned a hit 1960s live-action TV series (which has made its mark in American pop culture), the largest number of film’s for a single comic book character (Batman: The Movie, Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, and Batman Begins), a groundbreaking animated series in the 1990s (that eventually branched off into Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited), as well as the most direct-to-video releases for a major comic book character and the most animated renditions (Filmation’s Batman, Hanna-Barbera’s SuperFriends, Bruce Timm’s Batman, 2004’s The Batman, and 2008’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold). Batman has reached across many mediums and attracted people of all ages and races for years, whereas characters like Iron Man and Wolverine have only just been introduced to younger audiences in the ‘90s through their animated series. Case in point: It’s Batman. IT would’ve made money. Especially in a time where comic book movies are on the rise. Why shouldn’t one of the most popular characters amongst comic book-dom reign supreme? He’s the g**damn Batman! Period.
Secondly, this movie features the Joker. Whether this character was being played by Crispin Glover, Daniel Day Lewis, Jack Nicholson (again), or Tom Green, people would’ve seen this film. Why? Because Joker, like Batman, is amongst the most popular comic book characters within the comic book world. The Joker is a box office draw. Yes, people went to see if Heath would do it justice, but Joker alone ranks up there with Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter, Lex Luthor, and Magneto as one of the most recognizable villains regardless of medium. Case in point: Joker is like Batman, he is popular, recognizable, and box office draw.
Thirdly, I’ve heard people say that Batman Begins didn’t make much money. While not a huge blockbuster in theatres, you have to give it some credit. Clearly, this film was only seen by true Batman fans and avid moviegoers. Batman Begins had just come off the heels of Batman & Robin, which, even after eight years, can leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. In addition to following after a complete blunder of a film, not many were familiar with the new Batman Christian Bale, and even less were familiar with the co-writer/director Christopher Nolan, AND even LESS were familiar with these “new”, obscure villains Ra’s al Ghul, Scarecrow, and some guy named Carmine Falcone. Whereas in the past, people were almost drawn to Batman specifically for his fantastic rogue’s gallery consisting of the Joker, the Riddler, Catwoman, the Penguin, Two-Face, and Mr. Freeze. Batman Begins had a hard time, but after resonating with audiences as a great Batman depiction and a great film, it was inevitable that The Dark Knight would succeed.
A picture by yours truly! VicSage aka Colin in the "real" world.
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