Foreshadowing — Full Spoilers — The Dark Knight

Alfred: Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They’ll hate you for it, but that’s the point of Batman, he can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice.

Foreshadowing is a term that is defined as: a literary device used by author’s to hint at or show what may come in the future. Sometimes, it’s a blatant line-by-line foretelling and other times, it’s a raging thunderstorm to hint at future trouble. It’s not always something the reader will pick up on the first time around. I’m a person that avidly watches the same films and reads the same books over and over. Thus, I catch a lot of little hints that are nestled throughout my favorite films and books.

The Dark Knight is a film that I have watched more times than I care to count. With each new viewing, I catch a little hint of something that reveals a plot twist later on. I’m not going to cover all of them, but certainly a few of the main ones. I’ll leave it to you to watch the film yourself and see if you can catch the rest.

In the opening scene, after all but one of the robbers in the bank is dead, the last masked man has his gun on Joker (who – at that moment – we don’t know is the Joker) and says to him “I bet the Joker told you to kill me.” Joker responds “No, no, I kill the bus driver.” Within a few minutes, the Joker has killed the man with the gun pointed at him and the bus driver.

A little later, Detective Ramirez is speaking with soon-to-be Commissioner Gordon and reveals her mother is in the hospital. This hints at the plot line later where the Joker threatens to blow up a hospital if Reese isn’t killed and also at the fact that Ramirez will betray Lieutenant Gordon’s wife and child by turning them over to Two-Face.

Alfred has always been one of my favorite characters. His sage advice, often ignored, always comes calmly and patiently. Below is a conversation between Bruce and Alfred:

Bruce Wayne: Criminals aren’t complicated, Alfred. Just have to figure out what he’s after.

Alfred Pennyworth: With respect Master Wayne, perhaps this is a man that *you* don’t fully understand, either. A long time ago, I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So, we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never met anybody who traded with him. One day, I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.

Bruce Wayne: So why steal them?

Alfred Pennyworth: Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

The above conversation hints not only at the Joker’s state of mind but also his attitude towards money. It’s also a clear peak at his actions later in the film when he sets fire to his half of the stolen money. The Joker provides fuel (pun fully intended) to the above conversation with his own words:

“Joker: You see, I’m, a guy of simple taste: I enjoy dynamite, and gunpowder…and gasoline!
[Joker’s men douse the money with gasoline]
The Chechen: What the—?
[the Joker brandishes a pistol at him]
The Joker: Ah-ah-ah. You know the thing that they have in common? They’re cheap.
The Chechen: You said you were a man of your word.
The Joker: Oh, I am. I’m only burning my half. [throws the Chechen’s cigar onto the money, setting it ablaze] All you care about is money. This town deserves a better class of criminal, and I’m gonna give it to ’em. Tell your men they work for me now. This is my city.”

These two scenes against each other provide insight into Joker’s view of the world. Joker sets his half of the money on fire just as the man in Burma dumps the rubies rather than selling them. The man in Burma and the Joker are in it for the sport, not for the money. They are men that other’s can’t understand or predict.

Of course one of the biggest lines from Harvey Dent foreshadows not only what happens to Dent but also to what happens to Batman.

Harvey Dent: You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

Batman himself repeats this line later on as he volunteers to take the wrap for everything Two-Face did. He does this to save the city’s faith in Dent and prevent a long line of appeals and criminals from being released from prison.

Batman: You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I can do those things. Because I’m not a hero, not like Dent. I killed those people.

I love this movie, the acting, the style, even the clothing. The outfit that the Joker is wearing in the prison cell – perfection. It was excellently scripted and cast. I love all the tell-tale signs that keep the movie rolling forward to make the story complete. There are many more nuggets buried in this movie. If you know of one I didn’t mention, leave it in the comments section!

Your Homework: Watch your favorite movie and take note of the elements the story-teller utilizes to demonstrate foreshadowing.

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