Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was released 12 years ago Saturday, on July 18, 2008. In the time since it’s release, it has transcended the superhero genre and become a modern classic, fit with the action, psychological drama, and real-life tragedy needed in doing so.
At the time of its release, The Batman Begins sequel was the highest-ranked box office hit of 2012, per CinemaBlend, and went on to garner eight Academy Award nominations , chief among them being Heath Ledger’s posthumous Best Supporting Actor win. It was also nominated Best Sound Editing, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup, and Best Film Editing. With all of this acclaim, it comes as no surprise that Empire ranked it in 2008 as the fifteenth best film of all time.
Maybe the most memorable aspect of the film, which changed the superhero genre forever with its basis in gritty realism and deep psychological studies of its characters, was Ledger’s performance as The Joker, which many claim to be the single-greatest acting job of all time. Ledger, a method actor, put his heart and soul into the performance, writing detailed notes in his acclaimed “Joker Diary” which reveals just how far he went in taking on the psyche of the demented clown. In the months before The Dark Knight’s release, Ledger tragically overdosed on drugs, which only further mystified the film and placed it into the category of legend before it was even released.
Fans have been praising the film on Twitter for its anniversary, with some calling it “A brilliant masterpiece,” “the best superhero movie,” and a “timeless cinematic achievement.” One account notes how it “changed the movie industry forever,” and they may not be too far off, at least in terms of the superhero genre.
Do yourself a favor and rewatch The Dark Knight this week to celebrate the anniversary of such a modern classic.