Dark Knight occupies an almost mythical place in modern culture.
For many, it's the best superhero movie of all time, and for others, it's an overhyped, nihilistic mess.
I was dazzled by the film when I first saw it 10 years ago, but sometime between my second and third viewing, someone spoiled the film for me. They pointed out a ridiculous, logic-bending plot hole that just about ruins the entire film.
Let me set the scene for you: Gotham's elite are assembled at ritzy benefit held by Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale). Champagne is flowing, bodies are swaying, witty dialogue is tossed about. Then, it all shatters.
The Joker (Heath Ledger) and his goons are setting off a series of assassinations and terror attacks across Gotham City, culminating in a violent party crash.
Bruce Wayne hides Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and proceeds to slip away from the party to change into his Batsuit.
So far, so good. The plot doesn't just make sense, it kind of hums with a frenetic energy. The Joker's personal genius for controlling chaos is on full display, and Bruce Wayne must somehow juggle his two very public lives. It's fun, it's tense, it's horrifying, and it's full of the verve you want out of a comic book adaptation.
Then, it happens.
Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) offers herself up for hostage, putting her square in the Joker's grasp. When Batman arrives to break up the Joker's fun, the maniacal villain throws her from the window, and Batman dives after his lady love.
He saves her, of course, but in doing so wrecks the entire plot.
The Dark Knight never returns to the party scene where the Joker and his henchmen have the rich and famous of Gotham in their grasp.
We don't see any attempt to foil the Joker's crime, nor do we know how he gets away. We merely quick cut to the next chapter of the story.
Since Batman's emotional arc was tied up around Rachel, we see her rescue as a cathartic end to the scene, but it's actually a failure for the hero. Well, it is if he doesn't find a way to return to the fray and save everyone else in peril. It's lazy storytelling that makes no sense, and it's a laughably bad misstep.
Many films are riddled with plot holes, and everyone knows The Dark Knight has more than its fair share of narrative hiccups, but this particular plot hole cracks me up to this day. It's simply so egregious that I can't ignore it.
When I try to imagine a plausible explanation, it plays out like a grim Saturday Night Live sketch. Did the Joker kill everyone? Did he maim some of them? Did Batman just decide to head home for the night and watch some DVDs with Alfred? And if Ledger's Joker decided to just peace out from the party, why not include that to show his utter capriciousness?
Still, why does this specific plot hole spoil the movie for me? Because other action films pride themselves on showing us the unbelievable. They are avalanches of magic and sci-fi mumbo jumbo. We suspend our disbelief and go with the flow.
The Dark Knight, however, prides itself on its naturalism. A huge part of its charm is how grounded it is in reality. Nolan wants us to believe that a Batman can be real, but how real can he be if he ignores a room full of hostages?
This small plot hole punctures the reality of The Dark Knight, and therefore reveals that the whole world of Gotham is as fantastical as Thor's Asgard or Star Wars' Tatooine.