The lights came on and the credits rolled. I was in middle school, and it was summer break when I saw “The Dark Knight” for the first time.

The film reached its 10-year anniversary in July, and while I still adore it, my perception of the movie has changed over time.

In the current days of “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Black Panther,” “The Dark Knight” still just seems like the gold standard for comic-book movies to me.

When “The Dark Knight” came out, there was nothing like it in terms of quality and tone.

Something undeniable about the movie is the amazing performances by the likes of Christian Bale and Heath Ledger.

Every time Ledger’s Joker is onscreen, I’m just as captivated as I was back in summer of 2008. The Joker is the driving force behind that movie, as Batman is the immovable object.

Batman isn’t just tested in the sense of a regular superhero and if he can save the day, but in a moral sense where he must decide if he should sink below what he believes.

Harvey Dent is the near personification of hope in the film, while the Joker is an agent of chaos. Hope was lost, however, when Harvey Dent succumbed to his anger and became what we know as Two-Face.

The final confrontation between Batman and the Joker happens as people of Gotham are being faced with a moral and ethical decision.

Gotham is very much a character in “The Dark Knight,” and that element is unlike many superhero movies before it.

Beneath the amazing performances and the breathtaking IMAX shots, “The Dark Knight” is a film about morality and how we as humans shouldn’t abandon what we believe in when we’re tested by senseless acts of hate and terror.

It raises the question as to if we as a society have succumbed to fear and intolerance of others as a result of terror.

The film delivered a particularly moving message in a post-9/11 era upon its release, and it is a still a timely message now.

In 10 years I’m not so sure that people will still be talking about the societal or cultural impact of any other superhero movie. There are simply none that stand toe-to-toe with the movie.

Now that there are superhero movies where a couple dozen or so superheroes team up, it can be easy to let “The Dark Knight” get lost in the shuffle, but themes of it shouldn’t be forgotten.

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