About Suspension of Disbelief

There’s a notion when watching/reading fictional movies/stories, and it’s called “suspension of disbelief”.  Most contemporary movies, even if they are based within reality, require the audience to maintain at least SOME suspension of disbelief.  Suspension of disbelief is [from Wikipedia] “the willingness of a person to accept as true the premises of a work of fiction, even if they are fantastic or impossible”.

Yes, “The Dark Knight” is a piece of fiction.  It is a piece of fantasy, based on a comic book.  However, the clear premise of the rebooted Batman series, and the clear goals of Chris Nolan, the director, is to ground the fiction in reality.  Nolan goes to great effort to place the world of Batman into the real world, including: the locations, the characters, the story dynamics, and the plausibility of the elements of the story and plot.  That is the obvious goal. Especially in “The Dark Knight”, extending from the basis of “Batman Begins”, there is a persistent focus on keeping things realistic and not idealistic.  TDK is an attempt at taking something sourced from fantasy and placing it into reality, and also removing any semblance of idealism.

That’s all find and good – it’s an interesting goal and “Batman Begins” pulled it off quite well.  Watching BB, the audience can truly believe the various aspects of the story.  The main problem with TDK is that it fails miserably in that regard.  There are numerous scenes and situations that are completely not plausible at all, and the audience is expected to have a greater suspension of disbelief than what is implied throughout.  It steals from the audience the very thing that is meant to prop the value of the movie up in the first place.  The movie contradicts itself, it cheats itself, and the audience.  To compensate, what the audience is given is a lot of explosions and sadistic scenes, and the masses appear to have bought into it.

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27 Responses to “About Suspension of Disbelief”

  1. Excellent. Maybe we are tooooo serious, but after the maturity of the story in Batman Begins, I expected more from TDK.

  2. i personally enjoyed a movie that made me think about the human condition. the scene with the boats was very compelling. TDK i think you need to go back to watching batman and robin. that seems like a movie that might be more toned down in terms of the violence and storyline for you :) pce

  3. Not on this rant, but you keep calling the next movie Batman 3 than jokingly say or 6. Learn how many Batman movies their are before you make jokes like that . I mean on a site that does nothing but nitpick you should have fact checked.

  4. i think the human condition should be examined, but if the movie really wants to go there, such as the ferry scene, and the hospital blowing up thing, it should have the guts to carry it through. the people on the ferry would have killed each other in hysteria, and the empty hospital being blown up was not very ‘dark.’

    the person running this site is being sarcastic when he says BATMAN 3 OR 6. i think he knows the next number after 2 is 3.

  5. Why didn’t the cops return fire?
    In the super lame scene when the police convoy is diverted down to Lower Wacker Drive, why is that only the clowns bouncing around in the semi-trailer can shoot guns (and bazookas)? Why didn’t the police shoot back? All those SWAT guys just held their weapons to their chests – I don’t remember seeing one shot fired back!
    This movie sucked. I regret even the matinée ticket price that I contributed to this trash. (I really liked Batman Begins)

  6. Exactly. Well said. And I don’t even care if it is close to believable if it is well done. There isn’t much that is believable or well done about TDK Just yet another blockbuster action flick from Hollywood. If any movie reviewer says more than that, then they are full of it and part of the conspiracy.

  7. tdksucks, you summed it up perfectly. You can’t [as Nolan has] keep saying in interviews how ‘real’ and ‘realistic’ your film is, and then have absurdities throughout. And don’t get me started on how Two-Face COULDN’T SURVIVE in the condition he was in.

  8. WTF?? Why is this movie getting incredible reviews, from completely trusted sources?? The effects SUCKED. If i broke my own window, filmed it and posted it on youtube it would look more believable than any of the many contrived and poorly edited scenes in this trash. Where did the budget for this film go besides Chris Nolan, his wife, brother, mother and son’s pockets. Did his dog do the make-up and hair and the special effects. That is simply too much for one family pet.

  9. vd agreed
    instead, there could’ve been 75 one million dollar films… which would have developed more talent, provided more means of expression, realized more understanding, created more art (no doubt). also, if each film only grossed a few million each it would have had the same on warner’s bottom line. blockbuster hell.

  10. I totally felt that Bush vibe in the movie. A lot of it basically said “it’s end, not the means to it” but only right at the end was it that loud with that kind of message.

    The spying stuff with the phone was kind of like that too, but and this is a big but – lol- after watching it a second time I think I got a better hold of what was really meant. It’s one thing for Batman to being doing this fucked up shit, but it’s even more fucked up for our established government/ law to be doing this shit.

    I don’t if that makes any real sense or if I’m just putting more in it then is there, but I don’t think I am, because that’s what the character’s literally say a couple times in the movie.

    As far as you’re suspended disbelief, maybe ur on to something when it comes to that. When “The Blair Witch Project” came out there were a small amount of people that got head ache’s and vomitted from the shaky camera – who knew that movie could do that to people.

    The persons of this website are a minority in opinion on this film, but maybe it’ll help future filmmakers define what they mean when they say based in reality and just say inspired by reality.

    p.s. – About the cost of the movie. Things aren’t always as simple or cheap to acquire as they may seem, especially a big film that companies know has money. “Return of the Jedi” was filmed under the title of “Blue Harvest” for a few reasons, one of them were the cost of things they would have faced being the known sequel to “The Empire Strikes Back”.

  11. If what I wrote seem kind not making complete sense, that’s because I’ve been up too late and need sleep. sorry for any confusion.

  12. Deep down I knew that The Dark Knight (TDK) was going to suck. The death of Ledger does not justify hyping a movie to The Godfather’s equivalent over guilt. The school bus scene in the beginning was beyond idiotic and the rest of movie catered to recent brain transplant victims or children because anyone else should have their respective intelligences offended.

    Whatever type of a glorious return for The Batman series Nolan was attempting was lost in this movie. Batman Begins was honest, raw, and was a strong attempt at modernizing and legitimizing Batman. But with TDK we were forced to make our adult minds suspend all logic. I am so disappointed in this movie. Shame on you, Nolan, for turning into Schumacher 2.0!

  13. I have following problems:-


    Lets first forget about Joker is not into planning stuffs or may be a good planner, whatever.

    If Joker staged his own arrest, he knew that he will make an attempt to kill Dent, will possibly have to fight Batman (which probably he does not know since may be he knows that Dent is Batman), will get arrested, will attempt to buzz a ring on that cell phone, will come out of the interrogation room, will not be affected by that cellphone bomb explosion and finally kill Lao and escape if the cops are not around.

    That was a way too much forward planning ! Even if he is insane, he is taking a big risk which he is very well aware.

    No. 2

    Implanting so many Bombs all over the city without getting noticed or cops getting suspicious in this modern day techno-savvy secured city. The Hospital explosion was way too much. I was shocked when I first saw, to this contradictory treatment for a movie which is made quote lesser larger than life flick. I just thought, that the writers needed some shocking event from the hands of Joker, and they induced so.


    Is Joker that psychological expert that he knew that he will be able to poison Dent’s mind. He still took chances. Dent could have confronted Batman And Gordon and knew that the addresses were switched. And even if Joker was that confident, then it means he had some idea about the split personality aspect of Dent. So even here, we are to have the suspension of disbelief, that Joker also read minds.

  14. nyongods, thats exactly what the movie was driving at. Even in the comics (from which the movie draws its source material and which you haven’t read), the Joker’s ability to strategise is never in doubt. His insanity is of a different nature (unless you are one of those who believe ALL madmen are slobbering, extremely reality-challenged dolts). His madness involves a pathological disregard for human life. But the bottomline is hes a damn good planner.
    About your point 5, the Joker doesnt have to read minds. His entire scheme is directed against, firstly, Dent, to take him down, and secondly, against the Bat to see if he has a breaking point. As he says at the end, the Bat is incorruptible. That leaves Dent, and each time the Joker takes away a small part of him.
    So you see, the Joker doesnt have to read Dent’t mind, he merely pursues a course that will hopefully break Dent, and it does. It is an experiment in anarchy. Again, like the Joker says, “Insanity is like gravity etc.” What he was doing was giving Dent “a little push.” Sabe?
    God, you guys are so difficult to explain to. The only rational explanation for your intransigence is (a) nobody bought you Batman comics when you were kids so you dont know jack
    (b) You’re Spideyfans.
    And btw, you dont “implant” bombs, nyongods, you simon&garfunkel fan, you plant them.

  15. matchesmalone, I collected Batman comics since the early 80s. This movie, in ligtht of some of the best material to come out of Batman lore in the past 25 years, is a farce. I liked Nolan’s Batman Begins better than Burton’s, but when it comes to matching the mythos and lore, Burton’s vision came the absolute closest (except for connecting Joker to the death of Bruce’s parents and… killing Joker in the end [wrong]).

    The first Burton Batman (not in style or “realness” but in terms of continuity and story-telling), actually seems to make a better “sequal” to Batman Begins than anything else.

  16. Tdksucks,
    The moment you consider a movie only in terms of continuity and storytelling and leave out style and realism (or any other criteria) you are placing them into separate boxes. This is unfair for any movie with a complex scope and an equally complicated history, regarding its place in the canon.
    Understand this: I loved Burton’s Batman. For a long time afterwards my friends and I would ask: could we have a better Joker than Nicholson, and we’d answer ‘naa’. But now Nolan’s treatment has made it possible for Ledger’s Joker. And TDK’s treatment is a direct evolution from BB. So saying Burton’s Batman is a more continuous sequel to BB would be inexact. TDK is an escalation in every respect from BB. Burton’s Batman was still overshadowed by West.
    Face it: TDK was bound to happen. It’s a good movie, enjoyable, and anyone can pick holes in any movie. They can in this one too. At least it does justice to the Bat.
    About TDK’s comic-book origins. You might disagree with the details. For instance, Dent’s scarring. In that case, you’ll have to disagree with BB too. The only comic book template for BB is Year One. What does Miller show in Year One? The Bat hiding behind Dent’s desk when Gordon comes along to check if Dent is the Bat. But in BB, Gordon becomes one of the first points of contact for Wayne after he returns.
    How can you call TDK a farce? Look at The Killing Joke, look at Year One, Hush, Long Halloween, even DKR. The characters there are similar, they even talk in a similar manner, to TDK. Do you seriously want to go back to Schumacher’s Vau Devils?
    This movie had brought back the Bat where he belongs. If you’ve been reading him for as long as you say you have, you should be happy. Instead of trashing the movie, you should try to bring in people who have watched the movie to the true world of the comic books. You are not doing Bat readers any favour through this relentless obsession with trifles.

  17. Whether u like TDK or not, you can’t seriously say that 89 Batman was closer to the books than TDK can u tdksucks? I mean, neither film retells any in canon DCU stories, but both cherry pick some plub scenes and dialogue. I thave been reading Batman & Tec, and Legends, and Gotham Knights etc since mid-eighties (I was pretty young, but my mum collected comics and got me into them), and I counted more direct references in TDK than in Batman 89. (1 scene from Batman: Hong Kong, 2 scenes from No Mans Land- albiet with different endings-, fair slabs of Year 1 & Long Halloween, bits from Man Who Laughs, TKJ…) And, science aside, we got a damn close to the books- personalitywise- version of Harvey Dent/Two Face for once. Maybe its just that my expectations for movie addaptations have dropped since then (I hated Batman 89 when it came out because of how they made Joker so sleazy and Bruce Wayne too quirky and Batman a murderer. I was 11.)

  18. You think the realism totally worked in BB? Umm… did you catch that bit at the end about the microwave emitter?

  19. Did you catch the bit of how Ras al Gul did NOT train Batman?

  20. *In the comics*

  21. John, did you catch the bit where the movie addaptations of comicbooks are more like a elseworlds tales rather than trait retellings because it’s impossible to tell the exact same story within 2 hours as you can with 60+ years of serial issues? The `facts’ don’t have to be the same for a movie to be faithful only `the spirit’.

  22. Earlofthercs, I was siding with you by pointing out another part of BB that was NOT perfectly true to the comics despite how tdksucks believes BB is SO MUCH MORE LIKE THE COMICS!!! then TDK. Sorry for the confusion!

  23. John, ah yes (oops), in that case… exactly!

  24. debton, what about the microwave emitter? in that case youll have a problem with the lightbulb in the camera Sonny breaks at Don Vito’s daughter’s wedding too. You lose focus in a discussion, you leave yourself open to your argument being taken down. Hard.

  25. Maybe someone already said this, but the microwave emitter in Batman Begins is *extremely* unrealistic. Before approaching the massive amount of power needed to make entire water mains vaporize, you’d surely cause any living thing in the vicinity to explode, since our bodies are composed of mostly water.

  26. Focused microwaves- aimed downwards at the pipes not spread out randomly to hit people. But yeah, would need a massive amount of power to be that effective, although microwave heating is more energy efficient than other electrical powered water heating methods.

  27. To all the ‘The Dark Knight’ haters and critics out there: I want to do this film the justice it deserves. What startled me about this movie while bearing in mind that we are talking about a comic book adaptation is its depth and believability and to what lengths Nolan went to ground fiction in reality and maintain the suspension of disbelief throughout the film even though I have to agree there were some over-the-top action sequences and implausibilities regarding the storyline and continuity which are nevertheless still far from the bullshit you are being served in other comic book adaptations like Spider- or Ironman. Plus, while I think Jack Nicholson is an outstanding actor with his perfomances in films like ‘The Shining or ‘As good as it gets’, he totally pales in comparison to Heath Ledger with his portrayal of the Joker and although I think that the overall performance of this star studded cast was brilliant I have to say that Ledger plays in a league of its own. To come to a conclusion: TDK = Hollywood Cinema at it’s very best! This film is meant to entertain and in that respect it succeeds! No need for nitpicking! Your site is a total waste of time, loser! Nuff said! ;)

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