THE DARK KNIGHT
The Abridged Script
INT. BANK - GHICAGO
A GANG of CLOWNS breaks into a bank. The AUDIENCE impatiently tolerates the scene, despite having already watched it in front of I Am Legend as well as thirty times when it leaked ONLINE.
RANDOM CLOWN #1
Robbing this bank was a great idea. Anyone know why they call the guy that planned it 'The Joker'?
RANDOM CLOWN #2
I hear he wears clown makeup to scare people.
RANDOM CLOWN #1
What? How does that answer the question at all? I asked why they call him 'The Joker', not why they call him 'The Clown'. Nuts to this, has the real movie started yet?
The CLOWNS gather up a bunch of money and secretly kill each other one by one. One of the clowns pulls a gun on the OBVIOUSLY HEATH LEDGER CLOWN.
RANDOM CLOWN #3
I'm betting the Joker told you to kill me, so rather than kill you with your back turned I'm going to tell you how clever I am for figuring that out.
HEATH LEDGER CLOWN
No, I kill the bus driver.
RANDOM CLOWN #3
Bus driver? As in a person who drives a bus? That's extremely confusing to me, for you see I am not aware of any bus thus far in the heist. How strange of you to mention a vehicle that I have yet to be aware of in any capacity. Let me just take a few steps to the left while I stand and ponder what you could possibly mean by that.
He gets run over by a BUS that drives into the bank.
BUS DRIVER CLOWN
Somehow, the bus survived crashing into the side of a building without a scratch, so let's load it up with money! Hey, where are all of the other gang members?
HEATH LEDGER CLOWN
They had to go. Something about attending a dark carnival. Oh, and also, you're dead.
HEATH kills the BUS DRIVER, puts a smoke grenade in WILLIAM FICHTNER'S mouth for no reason, then drives out of the building into a conveniently placed gap in a line of SCHOOLBUSES.
INT. PARKING GARAGE
A bunch of DRUG DEALERS confront CILLIAN MURPHY.
Hey, your LSD made my clients shit themselves and jump out of buildings.
Honestly, why were you buying drugs from a guy with a potato sack on his head?
Suddenly a bunch of FAKE BATMEN break up the drug deal but eventually CHRISTIAN BALE WEARING BLACK RUBBER shows up and arrests everyone.
Jesus, I'm just trying to help, do you really need to punch me in the face with metal, spiked gloves? What's the difference between you and me?
Depends, are you on good terms with your sister?
Various MOBS all meet in a single room to facilitate the plot. Suddenly, HEATH LEDGER enters.
So it seems you guys all have a problem with Batman. Did you guys ever consider killing him?
Holy shit, are we allowed to do that? We thought about having a mobster vs. crimefighter softball game, but that's way easier! Why the hell didn't we think of that?
Damn, being a criminal mastermind is cake when the other criminals have brains the size of Mary-Kate Olsen's lunch. Now, I need to take over one of your gangs. First, let me tell you a story about when my asshole dad said things like "why so serious?" and "let's put a smile on that face!"
So all of your best lines from the trailer were from you quoting your douchebag father? That's almost as disappointing as the way the last scene brought back Cillian Murphy just to get rid of him in 2 minutes.
EXT. POLICE STATION ROOFTOP
GARY OLDMAN and AARON ECKHART wait on the rooftop for CHRISTIAN BALE IN A BLACK RUBBER SUIT.
Grrgrll farggle raar!
Nice to see you too. This is Aaron Eckhart, he's the new District Attorney and eventual tragic character.
Here's the deal. The mobsters all gave their money to Chin Han, who has gone off to Hong Kong. We need you to go get him and bring him here so I can cut off the mob's money supply.
Frmmrrphhl garg. Rarrawrl.
Did you take voice coaching lessons from Jack Bauer or something? Don't you feel like an idiot growling all of your lines? You sound like you're gargling Michael Keaton's balls.
CHRISTIAN BALE goes to see MORGAN FREEMAN.
Morgan, I need to fly to Hong Kong, kidnap Chin Han, then fly out. Can you help me using technology and caustic banter? Also I want a new suit that lets me turn my head.
A whole new suit? You spent the entire last movie building the first one, and you want a totally redesigned new one after one line of dialogue?
Your new suit is ready, have fun.
I've thought of an excellent alibi for when you're in Hong Kong, Mr. Bale.
Does it involve me taking an entire ballet troupe to a yacht from which I will mysteriously disappear, arousing a great deal of suspicion?
CHRISTIAN BALE flies to HONG KONG and abducts CHIN HAN, then brings him back to CHICAGO. CHIN sells out the MOBSTERS, who then go to TRIAL. The JUDGE for the trial gets into her car, which suddenly explodes! And the COMMISSIONER is poisoned! And ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL manages to find work!
INT. CHRISTIAN BALE'S PENTHOUSE
CHRISTIAN BALE throws a party for AARON ECKHART, which HEATH LEDGER crashes.
Good evening, we're tonight's entertainment! We also do birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs. Here's my card.
This is a 'Wild Draw Four' Uno card.
Yeah, I kinda had to use up all of the regular decks of cards in the city to stuff the judge's car full of jokers. Took fucking hours.
Well if you're here for Aaron Eckhart, we had 'Old Chicago' for dinner so he's in the bathroom shitting lava.
I can wait. Want to hear a story? Once upon a time, I had a wife. She was beautiful, like you. Er, no, I mean in complete contrast to you. You're actually kind of a butterface. But at least you're not Katie Holmes, I like that.
Then you're gonna love me!
How the hell did a guy in a giant bat costume sneak up right next to me without anyone noticing?
HEATH and CHRISTIAN fight, and somehow HEATH is able to hold his own against a guy with NINJA TRAINING. HEATH throws MAGGIE out of a window.
CHRISTIAN grabs her in midair, allowing MAGGIE to avoid landing on the PAVEMENT by landing safely on a CAR instead.
Thanks for catching me, but how are we going to resolve the issue of Heath still terrorizing your party guests upstairs?
Maybe if we awkwardly cut to the next scene, nobody will notice that we accidentally lost some pages of the screenplay.
EXT. CHICAGO STREETS
The police are holding a funeral for the DEAD COMMISSIONER in the most logical location: directly in the middle of 4 abandoned high-rise buildings with lots of windows. The MAYOR gives a eulogy while wearing a DISTRACTING AMOUNT OF EYELINER.
CHRISTIAN BALE uses MAGIC to pull fingerprints off a nonexistent bullet and winds up getting to the FUNERAL just in time to see HEATH LEDGER attempt to shoot the unprotected MAYOR, miss, and somehow hit GARY OLDMAN instead.
Maggie, Gary Oldman has just been shot.
I'm sure he's fine, he's not even commissioner yet. We're not supposed to actually be worried that he might be dead, are we?
Nonetheless, I'm concerned for your safety. Who can we trust?
I can go to Christian Bale's penthouse. It's the safest place in Chicago right now.
The place where I almost got killed by Heath Ledger and you got thrown out of a window? Maybe you should hide on some subway tracks instead.
Starting today, I'm going to kill innocent people until Batman reveals his secret identity. This plan is sure to work, since Americans are generally so willing to negotiate with terrorists.
I'll never give into this terrorist's demands!
Nevermind, I quit. Play the sad music while I throw everything in the garbage, Michael. I am Batman no more.
Subtle. Did you want to go kiss Kirsten Dunst upside-down in the rain, too?
AARON ECKHART holds a plot-explaining press conference, a scene that is quickly becoming a staple of the "Comic Book Movie About A Millionaire Playboy That Uses Technology To Build A Suit That Enables Him To Fight Evildoers" genre.
Batman has offered to turn himself in. Are you people sure you want him to do this? If we go through with it, he might be replaced with Robin in the sequel.
Do it! Things are worse than evurrrrrrrr!
Fine. I'm Batman, arrest me.
What? No, Batman has to be someone super-wealthy like, I dunno, Christian Bale for example. Don't be stupid.
The POLICE arrest AARON and drive him to JAIL, but HEATH LEDGER shows up to FUCK SHIT UP. CHRISTIAN BALE'S car gets damaged, forcing him to resort to his unstable-looking BALE-POD, sold separately.
The SWAT van transporting AARON turns down a random road, which happens to be the exact road HEATH predicted, and therefore has a trap waiting.
God damn, Heath is pretty smart for a guy that dresses like he's going to a midnight viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
CHRISTIAN BALE IN A RUBBER SUIT flips HEATH'S TRUCK using his BAT-PHYSICS-VIOLATOR, then rides up a wall in order to turn around like a BADASS. FANBOYS in the AUDIENCE cheer wildly for this, even though it looks RETARDED.
So it's finally here. Me at one end of a Chicago street, you at the other. The epic battle between good and evil, teased in every advertisement for the movie! This is going to be awesome.
CHRISTIAN BALE crashes his bike like a PUTZ. HEATH laughs, then gets arrested by GARY OLDMAN, who is alive after all. Then the scene ends.
You see, this was all an elaborate plan to capture you! Including all the parts where a bunch of cops got killed!
That's nothing, because MY plan included everything in your plan, but also some other stuff that gives me the upper hand after all! Eckhart and Gyllenhaal have been placed at opposite ends of the city with bombs strapped to them. You'll only have time to save one.
That's alright, the police will just save the other one.
Actually the police here are so incredibly inept that I am able to take their failure for granted in my grand scheme. Not that I look like the kind of guy that makes plans or anything.
We may be inept, but at least we don't steal our dastardly plots from "Superman: The Movie." Get your nose out of Gene Hackman's ass.
CHRISTIAN tries to rescue MAGGIE but actually winds up saving AARON instead. ALL of MAGGIE blows up, HALF of AARON blows up, and ONE FOURTH of the AUDIENCE'S BLADDERS blow up.
Meanwhile, HEATH LEDGER escapes police custody using brabble frabble gloob glop.
GARY OLDMAN visits AARON ECKHART, whose face has been half burnt off.
Holy fucking shit!
Are you alarmed by my hideous scarring?
No, I just can't believe how over-the-top Christopher Nolan went with the special effects on your face. I thought these movies were supposed to be realistic. Look at you, your fucking eyeball is hanging out. You look like the Toxic Avenger.
GARY leaves and HEATH LEDGER enters.
You asshole, why did you kill my girlfriend?
I'm an agent of chaos. I just do things.
Wow, that's some sophisticated characterization there. As soon as I get out of these surprisingly strong bandages, I'm going to kill you!
Look, you don't want to kill me for murdering her. You want to kill everyone else for failing to stop me from murdering her!
That doesn't make any sense at all.
And yet, it's going to be your main character motivation for the rest of the movie. Now make with the murder, Sir Skins-A-Lot.
INT. CHRISTIAN BALE'S LAIR
MORGAN FREEMAN enters CHRISTIAN'S LAIR and finds an array of tiny LCDs monitoring the entire city using SONAR.
What the hell? How did you rig this thing up without me? You needed me to staple bat ears to a black mask.
I somehow installed your sonar technology in every phone in the city, and apparently everyone has bought a new phone in the past week. I need you to use this thing to find Heath Ledger.
This is totally unethical and I won't stand for it.
What? This was YOUR plan. You didn't give a shit when we were spying on Chinese guys but now you're all pissy? What's the difference between that and this?
Well, this scene is getting dangerously close to actually having something to say, so we'd better hurry and get to a pointless action sequence.
CHRISTIAN and MORGAN figure out that HEATH is hiding out in a random building overlooking the harbor, where he has rigged two FERRIES with EXPLOSIVES.
MORGAN FREEMAN (O.S.)
(into Christian's earpiece)
Alright, it looks like there are a bunch of hostages dressed as clowns and a bunch of kidnappers dressed as hostages. You should tell the SWAT guys so they don't shoot the wrong people.
I think I'd rather beat the living shit out of them and leave them hanging off the side of a building instead.
CHRISTIAN walljumps his way to HEATH, who releases DOGS on him.
Oh no, dogs! Batman's one true weakness!
BALE fights the dogs and then fights HEATH. Eventually HEATH falls off a ledge and plummets toward the ground, but CHRISTIAN saves him.
I saved you, Heath. That proves how committed I am to my sissy-pants moral code.
Huh. You didn't seem to have a problem letting Liam Neeson die in the last movie, and all he did was blow up your house. I guess you loved your mansion more than Maggie Gyllenhaal. I don't blame you, honestly.
I had to save you! You need to be in the next movie!
Yeah... about that...
EXT. BUILDING RUINS
AARON ECKHART has taken GARY OLDMAN'S FAMILY hostage.
Please don't hurt my family. I know you're trying to establish a major character shift in like five minutes, but still, this is pretty unbelievable.
I'm going to kill your son, Gary. Please continue laying on the ground and doing absolutely nothing to stop me.
CHRISTIAN BALE shows up and shoves AARON off the building ledge to his OBVIOUSLY-NOT-ACTUAL-DEATH.
Way to avoid breaking your one rule, Bale.
We can't let people find out he killed a bunch of people. Tell everyone I did it.
Hmm. You know, we could probably just blame everything on Heath Ledger, since he murdered like 500 other people during the movie.
No, it has to be me. Nothing else would be as arbitrarily dramatic.
Alright, I'll go along with your plan to protect Eckhart's reputation, somehow looking past the fact that he nearly just shot my son in the fucking face.
The POLICE chase CHRISTIAN BALE into the night while GARY tries to awkwardly contort his closing voiceover into something that lets him say the title of the movie.
CHRISTIAN BALE gives everyone in the AUDIENCE a MILLION DOLLARS and everyone rubs their movie tickets on themselves to CURE CANCER, because this is OHMIGOD THE BEST MOVIE EVER EVER EVER!
Rod has been an author at The Editing Room for 17 years. You can support Rod and the rest of the site on Patreon.
Rod is the founder of The Editing Room, having started the web site in 1998 after seeing "Godzilla" and being compelled to express his hatred. He's written the bulk of Abridged Scripts on the site, many of which have appeared in Total Film magazine and Cracked.com