Forget everything you know about comic book movies: the Dark Knight takes the formula and smashed it to smithereens. The middle instalment in Nolan's trilogy changed everything.
Splitting screen time between day and night, The Dark Knight focuses as much – if not more – on Batman's alter ego, Bruce Wayne, who must grapple with the decidedly chewy morals of fighting crime and doing what's acceptable when saving the day. Gotham, meanwhile, is presented as a dark nightmare city with a festering underbelly of crime-lords and a general public aching for a hero.
Of course, any good superhero must have a super-villain to match them. Enter Heath Ledger's Joker. A controversial casting at the time, Ledger makes for the perfect manic, unnerving murderer. With garish makeup and enigmatic platitudes, Joker steals the show. When he was awarded a posthumous Oscar for best supporting actor, few were surprised.
There have been several attempts to faithfully recreate Batman's story since Dark Knight, but never has it been achieved with such brazen disregard for the rules. Every superhero movie since 2008 owes a debt to The Dark Knight, and none have surpassed its glory.
Best superhero moment: Batman's decision to save The Joker at the last second with his grappling hook, and then going on to take the blame for Two-Face's crimes. A true hero. (Warner Bros.)