The Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film directed, co-produced, and co-written by Christopher Nolan. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, the film is the second installment of Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy and a sequel to 2005's Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale and supported by Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Morgan Freeman. In the film, Bruce Wayne / Batman (Bale), Police Lieutenant James Gordon (Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Eckhart) form an alliance to dismantle organized crime in Gotham City, but are menaced by an anarchistic mastermind known as the Joker (Ledger), who seeks to undermine Batman's influence and turn the city to chaos.
Nolan's inspiration for the film was the Joker's comic book debut in 1940, the 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke, and the 1996 series The Long Halloween, which retold Two-Face's origin. The "Dark Knight" nickname was first applied to Batman in Batman #1 (1940), in a story written by Bill Finger. The Dark Knight was filmed primarily in Chicago, as well as in several other locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. Nolan used IMAX 70 mm film cameras to film some sequences, including the Joker's first appearance in the film. Warner Bros. initially created a viral marketing campaign for The Dark Knight, developing promotional websites and trailers highlighting screenshots of Ledger as the Joker. Ledger died on January 22, 2008, some months after the completed filming and six months before the film's release from a toxic combination of prescription drugs, leading to intense attention from the press and movie-going public.
A co-production of the United States and the United Kingdom, The Dark Knight was released on July 18, 2008 in the United States and on July 25, 2008 in the United Kingdom. Film critics considered it one of the best films of its decade and one of the best superhero films of all time; the film received highly positive reviews, particularly for its action, score, screenplay, performances (particularly Ledger's), visual effects, and direction, setting numerous records during its theatrical run. The Dark Knight appeared on 287 critics' top ten lists, more than any other film of 2008 with the exception of WALL-E, and more critics (77) named The Dark Knight the best film released that year. With over $1 billion in revenue worldwide, it became the highest-grossing film of 2008 and is the 39th highest-grossing film of all time, unadjusted for inflation (4th at the time of release); it also set the record for highest-grossing domestic opening with $158 million, a record it held for three years. The film received eight Academy Award nominations; it won the award for Best Sound Editing and Ledger was posthumously awarded Best Supporting Actor. In 2016 it was voted 33rd among 100 films considered the best of the 21st century by 117 film critics from around the world. The Dark Knight Rises, the final film in the trilogy, was released on July 20, 2012.