It’s been 30 years since the first episode of Batman hit the boob tube and changed everything. Since then, the Caped Crusader has become a pop culture icon. With the release of the newest installment in the Batman franchise, “Batman vs. Superman“, in theaters now, it’s the perfect time to take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the best moments from the Dark Knight’s legendary career.
The Joker’s Great Escape
One of the things that makes Joker so special is that he’s always managed to outwit the police and escaped his captors. It all started with the great escape scene in which Joker manages to outwit both Batman and a swarm of cops with an ingenious plot that seesaws back and forth between the two camps. He plays on their opposing interests and paves the way for his ultimate plan which climaxes in a high-speed car chase that you will certainly remember.
The Jokers’ Carnival
It was the mid-’70s and the Joker was king. He rules over a circus-like carnival of monsters, villains and freaks. In this installment, you will get to see the most iconic scene in which the Joker shames the Caped Crusader by displaying a giant crow that he used as a prop in his previous encounter with Batman. The look on the Dark Knight’s face is a classic!
The Killing Joke
This one’s a bit of a cheat since it is technically part of the same canon as the Joker’s great escape but it’s such a seminal moment in the Dark Knight’s story that it has to be included here. When the Joker kidnaps journalist Bob Kane’s daughter, Nancy, to force him to write a puff piece about the madman, you know that this is one episode that you don’t want to miss. The scene that follows is something straight out of a horror movie. You will be scared for the young woman but also awed by the Joker’s ingenuity as he forces Kane to watch as he slices off the journalist’s testicles.
The Dark Knight Returns
This is one of the ultimate endings in superhero movie history. On the night that Batman’s retirement ceremony is to be held, a group of rioters attack the event and the Dark Knight defends the guests, including himself, from the assault. This movie ends with a bang as the police confront the Joker and his thugs, who have set up a bomb to destroy the entire Gotham. The bomb goes off, but Batman is unharmed thanks to an early warning system that alerts him to the danger. This is a real emotional release for the Caped Crusader as he realizes that, despite his retirement, he will never be able to leave the fight against crime in Gotham City. The explosion also triggers a chemical reaction that makes the giant walls that separate Gotham from its adjacent towns crumble. It’s a truly iconic image that will forever be associated with this franchise.
No One Will Be Safe
This was a turning point in the Dark Knight’s career. After Batman defeated the Joker and his goons, the psychopath pledged to hunt down the Caped Crusader. He subsequently invades the Batcave and holds Barbara, Alfred and Lieutenant Gordon hostage. On the run from the madman, Batman holds a press conference during which he warns that no one is safe. In the end, only Alfred, the Lieutenant and Commissioner Gordon survive the onslaught. This is when Batman decides to don the cape and cowl again and continue his reign of terror as the Dark Knight.
The Dark Knight Returns was a turning point in the Batman saga as it was the first time that the masked vigilante had not been the primary star of the franchise. In this installment, we are introduced to the villainous Gotham Rogues, a group of criminal clones of the Dark Knight. Led by the brutal Krueger, the clownish Scaredy Cat burglar and the hunchback Mendoza, these “clones” are created by Dr. Anton Lermanskaya. Lermanskaya was behind the original Joker’s creation as well. The goal of the Gotham Rogues is to kill Batman so that they can usurp his status as the world’s greatest detective and exact revenge on the Gotham police for capturing them. This is basically what happens in the end as Krueger, Scaredy Cat and Mendoza are all killed by Batman while trying to offload their drug supply on unsuspecting Gotham citizens. Only one of the trio manages to shoot the Dark Knight before they’re all eliminated. However, this doesn’t end the threat posed by the Gotham Rogues and, in a later installment, it is revealed that more of the sinister gang members survived and, for the most part, are now locked away, presumably in a prison.
The Dark Knight is the chosen one. As the world’s greatest detective, Batman uncovers the truth about his parents’ murder. It was a holy war between the Gotham Rogues and the Knightly Knights, a group of superheroes, led by Captain America, who are determined to protect Gotham from the clutches of crime. Batman discovers that his parents were slain by a mob and that the real killer, Jack Napier, a.k.a. the Joker, was behind everything. The police arrest Jack and he is put on trial for his crimes. In the end, Jack is led away in handcuffs and his face is obscured by a sheet. This is the true beginning of the Dark Knight’s war on crime and, although he eventually prevails, his parents’ murder still haunts him. This movie introduced the idea of a holy war as a way of combating crime in Gotham City and, in a later adaptation, it was used as the backdrop for the plotline.
The Last Laugh
This is the ultimate twist ending in superhero movie history. After a series of harrowing adventures that see him rescue Julie Madison from Dracula, the Dark Knight returns to Gotham City and goes on a rampage, committing outrageous acts of violence and destruction. However, this is all part of a cunning plan orchestrated by the Joker. The madman knew that Batman would come back and so he orchestrated a twisted scheme in which he attacks Batman with an army of zombies and monsters. This is why, in the end, as the Caped Crusader fights for his life, the last thing that he sees before succumbing to his injuries is a giant clown laughing at him. It’s a haunting image that will live on in infamy.
This was just a small sampling of the amazing work that Mick Garris and, more importantly, Christopher Nolan did with the Batman franchise. It’s been 30 years since the Dark Knight was first introduced to the public and he has never been more relevant, if indeed he ever was, than he is now. Between the economy and the world’s growing intolerance for crime, Nolan’s Batman truly stands for something. It’s time to put on the cape and cowl again, gentlemen!