The Dark Knight script laid the groundwork for a film that completely revolutionized cinema, and was the first superhero movie to gross over a billion dollars worldwide. Let’s take a look.
The Dark Knight Script
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WHO WROTE THE Dark Knight SCRIPT?
Written by Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, and David S. Goyer
David S. Goyer attended USC film school and is known for being a great lover of comics. He also writes scripts for video games including a few for Call of Duty. Some other David S. Goyer Scripts:
- Dark City
- The Blade Trilogy
- The Dark Knight Trilogy
- Da Vinci’s Demons
The Dark Knight PLOT
Story beats in The Dark Knight script
The Dark Knight screenplay is a bit longer than most scripts. It comes in at 141 pages, but the beat structure seems to be pretty standard especially in the first act. The extra pages are mostly large action sequences.
the Dark Knight Script Teardown
Script Structure of The Dark Knight
1. EXPOSITION (BEGINNING)
The Dark Knight script begins with The Joker robbing a bank. We get a glimpse at the post-Batman Gotham.
2. INCITING INCIDENT
Batman arrives at the mob bank. He and Gordon discuss the mob and the new criminal in town — The Joker.
3. CLIMAX OF ACT ONE
The Mob’s money will be seized, so Lau hides it in China. The Joker proposes a deal; pay him half to kill Batman.
4. OBSTACLES (RISING ACTION)
Batman retrieves Lau and the money. Batman returns to a chaotic Gotham being terrorized by The Joker.
5. MIDPOINT (BIG TWIST)
They fake Jim Gordon’s death and use Dent as bait. Batman and Gordon are able to capture The Joker.
6. DISASTER & CRISIS
The Joker planned to be captured. He forces Batman to choose between Rachel and Dent. The Joker escapes.
7. CLIMAX OF ACT TWO
Mr. Reese tries to reveal Batman's secret identity, but The Joker threatens to blow up a hospital if Reese succeeds.
8. CLIMAX OF ACT THREE
The Joker sets bombs on two ferries. He pits the people of Gotham against each other to corrupt the entire city.
10. DENOUEMENT (WRAP UP)
Harvey Dent kidnaps Gordon's family. He plays Russian Roulette until Batman tackles him off a building.
Batman takes the blame for Harvey Dent's crimes. He escapes into the night as a wanted fugitive.
The Dark Knight Script Takeaway #1
The Dark Knight Interrogation Scene
Generally, the scene plays out the way it’s written in the script, but there are some little differences. The script has Batman hitting the Joker three times at the start instead of just slamming his head into the table.
Click below to see The Dark Knight interrogation scene:
Read the Full Interrogation Scene — See Script Version 3
You’ll notice “WHERE IS SHE!” lines screamed by Batman are in all CAPS. This shows how you can inform performance as a writer. In the script, when Gordon asks Batman, “Who are you going after?” Batman responds, “Dent knew the risk,” but in the film, Batman says, “Rachel.”
Scene Study: The Dark Knight Interrogation Scene
Conventional wisdom suggests that these changes were made to increase the cinematic rhythm and effect, but also for heightened clarity.
THE DARK KNIGHT SCRIPT TAKEAWAY #2
The Dark Knight Hospital Scene
The first thing I notice about The Dark Knight hospital scene is how in the script, Joker gives Dent the gun almost immediately, but in the film he doesn’t give Dent the gun until he mentions ‘introducing anarchy.’
Click below to see The Dark Knight hospital scene:
Read the Full Hospital Scene — See Script Version 2
The script doesn’t have the first section where Joker simply says, ‘Hit.’ There is no mention of Joker forgetting Rachel's name, nor does it mention the ‘Vote for Harvey Dent’ campaign sticker on the scrubs.
Scene Study: The Dark Knight Hospital Scene
The Dark Knight script also leaves the reader unsure of the result of the coin flip, and doesn’t mention the delay and resuming of the explosions.
THE DARK KNIGHT SCRIPT TAKEAWAY #3
Dark Knight monologue ending quote
The Dark Knight monologue ending quote was definitely written to play as a voice-over intercutting sequence at the very end of the film.
Click below to see The Dark Knight monologue ending quote:
Read the Full Monologue Ending Quote Scene — See Script Version 1
This ending is undeniably powerful due to the use of intercutting, especially when accompanied by Hans Zimmer’s score.
Scene Study: The Dark Knight Fundraiser Scene
When reading this moment in the script, you definitely get the feeling the writers put a little extra power behind their keystrokes, culminating a script that Warner Brothers ended up spending $185,000,000 to make.
Read and Download More Scripts
The Dark Knight is a prime example of how a high-budget, comic-book sequel can still be an exciting movie. If you want to read more, we have other great titles, such as The Dark Knight Rises, The Godfather and Joker in our screenplay database. Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.