One of the best movies we’ll do in this rewatch, it is a really strong Batman story, a really strong movie story, and a great penultimate role for the late Heath Ledger — though he’s only the second-best villain in the thing, as Aaron Eckhart gets serious props for his Two-Face. The great superhero movie rewatch examines The Dark Knight.
There’s a lot of talk of heroism in this movie, with Batman insisting that he’s not a hero, and Gordon agreeing with him, saying that instead he’s a guardian—and maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. These three movies in general and this movie in particular tries to look at Batman-as-hero from many different angles. However, he’s not the biggest hero in the movie. That distinction goes jointly to the prisoner and the civilian passenger who choose not to blow up their fellows. And yes, the asshole who changes his mind is a hero because he thought it through. He recognized what responsibility he had taken on, to kill a boatful of people. Yes, most of them were criminals (though there were also guards and cops on board, not to mention the boat’s crew). But he would not kill them. And the prisoner who unhesitatingly tossed the detonator in one of the great misdirect scenes of all time was an even bigger hero because he knew the score. Both boats agreed that the prisoners “deserved” to die more, but the truth is that nobody deserves to die, and death is something that should be put off as long as possible, because you can’t take it back. That’s why Batman won’t kill—a rule that Nolan mercifully keeps intact, to the point that Batman is thrice tempted to kill Joker but refuses.