‘Dark Knight’ Trilogy: Batman’s Best Battles

From his League of Shadows graduation to a brutal battle of the wits against the Joker, here are the Caped Crusader's greatest fights under Christopher Nolan's vision.

He can’t fly, he doesn’t have adamantium claws, and he doesn’t turn into a big green rage monster when provoked. But where Batman lacks those kinds of super-powers, he makes up for it in wit, ability, high-tech gear, and a glorious knack for punching hapless bad guys right in the kisser.

Sadly, we’ll never see Batman throw another punch under the direction of Christopher Nolan. With “The Dark Knight Rises,” the filmmaker has concluded his story. Everything Nolan has ever had to say about Gotham City has been said, every tale told. But the “Dark Knight” trilogy will always be there for fans to watch and watch and watch again — and with repeated viewings comes a renewed appreciation for all of the phenomenal fights Batman gets himself into over the course of those three films.

Keep reading for a look back on Batman’s best five battles in the “Dark Knight” series.

5. The Sea of Shadows

In “Batman Begins,” before adopting his crime-fighting alter-ego, Bruce Wayne tested himself against a number of foes boasting varying levels of difficulty. But before returning to Gotham, no one gave him a harder time than Ra’s al Ghul, a man he knew at the time as mentor Henri Ducard. Before he could graduate from the League of Shadows, Bruce had to face Ra’s in an unconventional battle: hopped up on a hallucinogenic blue flower, he was tasked with gaining the upper hand on Ra’s, hidden in a veritable sea of ninjas crowding up the battlefield. It’s a trippy, keep-’em-guessing scene that perfectly demonstrates Wayne’s ability to thrive in the deadliest of circumstances, even without his cape and cowl.

4. Hell On Wheels

Of the many epic chase scenes in the “Dark Knight” trilogy, there’s perhaps no greater sequence than the one at the heart of “The Dark Knight.” It’s the first appearance of the Batpod, the first “defeat” of the Joker, and the last great victory for Harvey Dent. It’s the moment where you think that, yes, finally, the good guys have won — and then you realize the Clown Prince of Crime still has another hour to tear your heart out. More on that in a minute.

3. The Grand Debut

The first appearance of the fully costumed Bruce Wayne in “Begins” is confusing on a number of levels. You don’t see every punch landed. You don’t see every step of Wayne’s meticulous planning, how he gets from point A to point B. What you do see is the arrival of an icon, the creation of a legend. With one well-placed head-butt to Tom Wilkinson’s face, the taste of the Joel Schumacher era is forever washed away. This, my friends, is Batman.

2. “Krakt” Went The Bat

But Batman’s greatest battles don’t always end in victory. Indeed, the top two entries on this list are among the Caped Crusader’s all-time low-points. After eight years in exile, Wayne returns in “Rises” as the hero Gotham City needs. But he’s not the hero he was. Batman goes up against Bane overconfident and underprepared, a match that ends with a sickening crack to the Dark Knight’s back, and a one-way ticket to a faraway prison to spend the next several months helplessly watching his city turn to ashes.

1. The Killing Joke

The iconic interrogation scene at the core of “The Dark Knight” is Batman’s greatest battle in Nolan’s entire saga. Even if it feels rather one-sided on the physical end of things, it’s Batman who takes the biggest beating as Joker tears into his soul with lip-smacking lashings and an explosive scheme that sends Harvey Dent halfway to hell and Rachel Dawes all the way. It’s the epitome of the dark, morose tone that Nolan’s trilogy mastered so fully. And even if it’s a low-point in Bruce’s career as a crime-fighter, it’s an undeniable high for viewers who came to realize just how deeply everyone involved in the “Dark Knight” series understood the core of the Batman legend.

Which of Batman’s battles in the “Dark Knight” trilogy was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @roundhoward!

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