by Charlie Burroughs
There are a few ways you can show the hero and opponent are similar. One way is subtle visual cues. On the night of District Attorney Harvey Dent’s fundraiser Bruce Wayne gives a heartfelt toast to the “white knight.” Wayne is distraught and before drinking the glass of champagne he exits the pent house for some air. Outside Wayne tosses the champagne over the balcony without taking a sip. Moments later the Joker crashes the party looking for Harvey Dent, “You seen Harvey Dent?” The Joker explains he is the night’s entertainment and grabs a glass of champagne. He tosses the beverage over his shoulder and takes a drink from the empty glass. Why would the director want to waste alcohol like this unless he wanted to point out these characters are similar. Of course you don’t have to be so subtle the opponent can come right out and say he is similar to the hero. “I don’t want to kill you,” The Joker says when being interrogated by the Batman. “You complete me.”
Visually Dirty Harry does something similar to The Dark Knight. This visual cue is a little more harmful than wasting alcohol. In Harry’s first dirty job he cleans up on a failed bank robbery. He snaps off six shots leveling the get-away car and crippling the bad guys. However, Harry didn’t leave unscathed after getting shot in the leg by a robber. The placement of this shot on Harry’s leg is the same spot Scorpio is stabbed at by Harry later in the movie. This is a physical weakness both characters share.
Side Note: Make the opponent impervious to physical pain. In Dirty Harry Scorpio pays a man to beat him to a bloody pulp. Then Scorpio tells the media it was Harry who beat him up. Harry’s response to the police chief? “He looks to good for me to have done that.” In The Dark Knight the Joker is physically abused by Batman, but for all his strength Batman can do nothing to crack him.
What about the structure of these movies? I already noted the introductions were similar, that isn’t all these two movies share structurally. The Hero has to overcome a societal problem...
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A little about the hero and opponent.