The Dark Knight: When Plot Holes Don’t Matter

An Imperfect Classic

The Dark Knight, released in 2008, remains unquestionably one of the greatest superhero movies of all time, if not the greatest. It elevated the genre to a new level of serious filmmaking, it proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the source material was not necessarily just meant for children, and it told a compelling, gripping story peopled with fascinating characters and suffused with themes relevant to the real world.

But yet if you’ve watched the film enough, it’s pretty easy to notice that there are some pretty large holes in the story – those gaps in logic that would easily bring down a lesser film where the other components, like the pacing, the acting, the action sequences, the visuals and so on, were not doing enough to smooth over the problems with the script.

Some of these plot holes can be chalked up to the fact that Christopher Nolan had a cool image in mind and wanted to shoot it, and to hell with logic. We’re thinking in particular of the opening bank heist, in which the Joker (Heath Ledger) has a school bus come crashing through the front entrance of a bank, loads the bus up with cash, shoots the driver, then steers the bus out into Gotham City traffic – conveniently joining a long row of other school buses cruising down the street.

For one, his timing had to be almost supernaturally impeccable to join the line; but on the other hand, how did no one notice a debris-riddled bus pulling out of a wrecked bank? When you reflect on it later, it almost doesn’t make sense, but that heist sequence is so well-done, and that punchline is so slick, that it doesn’t matter unless you think real hard about it.

The Gordon Problem

There are other holes in the story – you can find lists of them all over the web – but the one that always stood out to us upon repeated viewings comes just about halfway through the film. During a public funeral for Gotham City Police Commissioner Gillian Loeb (poisoned by the Joker), the Clown Prince of Crime infiltrates the honor guard and as they fire their guns into the air as part of the service, turns his weapon toward the Gotham mayor up on the dais. The villain fires directly at him.

Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) sees this all transpiring a second beforehand and dives in front of the mayor, taking the bullet himself. Just a moment later, we see his officers turn him over and stare at an apparently dead Gordon.