Having been released right on the heels of The Dark Knight, it's hard to imagine that this explosively violent Marvel movie would have anything to do with Dark Knight. However, director Lexi Alexander has said that the studio replaced her intended musical score, which embraced the film's B-movie feel, with a more grounded action movie score to make it specifically more akin to Dark Knight.
Director Samuel Bayer told Fangoria that The Dark Knight was the main influence behind his remake of the Wes Craven classic: "I told all my cast and crew that we must do with Freddy what Christopher Nolan did with Batman. I’m trying to make a dark and serious film, and I hope I’m achieving that. One of the most extraordinary aspects of 'Dark Knight' is the way it integrates Batman into a believable world, and I want to do just the same with Freddy."
Director Sam Mendes took a great deal from the Dark Knight playbook, from the dour tone to the moral grey area of the hero to the terrorist villain who gets caught on purpose and occasionally has a point.
Mendes even said this to The Playlist: "What Nolan proved was that you can make a huge movie that is thrilling and entertaining and has a lot to say about the world we live in, even if, in the case with ‘The Dark Knight,’ it’s not even set in our world. It felt like a movie that was about our world post-9/11, and played on our fears, and discussed our fears and why they existed and I thought that was incredibly brave and interesting. That did help give me the confidence to take this movie in directions that, without ‘The Dark Knight,’ might not have been possible. Because also, people go, ‘Wow, that’s pretty dark,’ but then you can point to ‘Dark Knight’ and go ‘Look at that – that’s a darker movie, and it took in a gazillion dollars!’ That’s very helpful. There’s also that thing – it’s clearly possible to make a dark movie that people want to see."
While Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy was a throwback to the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko comics, the Andrew Garfield-led reboots from director Marc Webb were clearly trying to instill some of the grit and darker themes of Nolan's Batman Trilogy, right down to Peter's love Gwen Stacy biting the dust in the followup film Amazing Spider-Man 2.
J.J. Abrams' first Star Trek movie in 2009 was wild and rambunctious, but still retained the central utopian philosophy of Gene Roddenberry's original. Not so the sequel, as Into Darkness managed to weave in terrorism, Federation treachery and that oh-so-inappropriate 9-11 truther nonsense. It even took The Dark Knight's "bad guy getting caught on purpose" interrogation thing, although Benedict Cumberbatch is no Heath Ledger.
Considering its story was conceived by Dark Knight architects Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, it's no surprise that Man of Steel feels like the Nolan-ized version of the Superman mythos, despite having actually been helmed by Zack Snyder. Its debatable whether Superman NEEDED the dark and gritty reboot it got, but for better or worse it set the tone for all the DCEU movies that followed.
With the Russo Brothers' inaugural Marvel outing, they sought to take a tonal left turn with the Captain America franchise, going from the WWII serial-inspired adventures in The First Avenger to the more grounded, morally grey tone of Winter Soldier. The camerawork, pacing and overall feel of the film owes a great deal to Dark Knight, and is the most Nolan-esque of all the films the studio has made.
One need only look at Guillermo del Toro's colorful, crazy Pacific Rim to contrast Gareth Edwards' more grounded, post 9-11 exploration of Godzilla. The echoes of urban terrorism, the link to real-life nuclear disasters, the muted color scheme... it's all straight out of The Dark Knight 101.
After working under the thumb of producer Christopher Nolan on Man of Steel, Zack Snyder really cut loose on the followup Batman v Superman. While very much stylistically a Snyder film, the way he portrays the balance of Bruce Wayne's corporate life with his hard-riding vigilante nature is the type of Batman you wouldn't have seen had Nolan's version not existed. Of course, Batman's more violent nature abandon's Christian Bale's "I only have one rule" ethos for... no rules?
While stylistically Black Panther bears almost no resemblance to The Dark Knight, Michael B. Jordan's Erik Killmonger strikes a similar villainous tone as Heath Ledger's Joker. He's the baddie who wants to watch the world burn... but you sorta see his point, at least philosophically. That level of complexity in a villain is certainly the legacy of The Dark Knight carried forth to a new generation of superhero films.