The Dark Knight turns 15: Where are the stars now? trends now
The Dark Knight revolutionized the superhero film and became one of director Christopher Nolan's most beloved films when it was released in 2008.
And now, 15 years on, the film has had few equals in big-budget blockbuster filmmaking.
The movie, a sequel to Nolan's critically acclaimed Batman Begins (2005), finds Christian Bale reprising his role as the Caped Crusader, while introducing his most compelling on-screen nemesis: Heath Ledger's Joker.
A decade and a half from its massive $1 billion box office success, DailyMail.com looks back at the all-star cast of the beloved superhero film and checks in on what they're up to now.
As popular as ever: The Dark Knight revolutionized the superhero film and became one of director Christopher Nolan's most beloved films when it was released in 2008. And now, 15 years on, the film has had few equals in big-budget blockbuster filmmaking
The Latest: A decade and a half from its massive $1 billion box office success, DailyMail.com looks back at the all-star cast of the beloved superhero film and checks in on what they're up to now; Christian Bale and Heath Ledger pictured
Superstar: Christian Bale, who played Batman in The Dark Knight, saw his profile skyrocket thanks to the series. Since the film, he has appeared almost exclusively in acclaimed films, though his commercial track record is mixed; seen in 2019 in Toronto
Back at it: In 2012, he made his third and so far final appearance as Batman in Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. The film was a similar commercial success, grossing over $1 billion again, and it was also liked by critics, though less so than its predecessor
Bale was a star long before he donned Batman's cowl, after starring in Steven Spielberg's Empire Of The Sun when he was just a child and following it up with roles in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V, Newsies, Little Women and Pocahontas.
After Batman Begins was a hit at the box office, he followed its success with an impressive string of roles in acclaimed films, including Terrence Malick's The New World, Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn, Nolan's The Prestige, the Western 3:10 To Yuma, and Todd Haynes' experimental Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There, although only The Prestige and 3:10 To Yuma were commercial successes.
It was only natural that he would reprise his Batman role for its sequel The Dark Knight, but Nolan's film was a bigger success than many could have dreamed of.
Bale significantly cut down on his film roles afterward, though he made time to star in a Terminator sequel, Michael Mann's Public Enemies and David O. Russell's acclaimed boxing drama The Fighter.
In 2012, he made his third and so far final appearance as Batman in Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. The film was a similar commercial success, grossing over $1 billion again, and it was also liked by critics, though less so than its predecessor.
Since then, Bale has mostly appeared in films directed by well-known auteurs. He worked for Russell again on American Hustle and collaborated with Ridley Scott on Exodus: Gods And Kings. He reunited with Terrence Malick on the underseen Knight Of Cups, and he scored another hit with the financial comedy The Big Short.
He starred opposite Matt Damon in the Oscar nominee Ford v Ferrari in 2019, and after taking time off at the height of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, he came roaring back last year with three films. He appeared as the villain Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love And Thunder, before reuniting with Russell again on Amsterdam and appearing in the historical mystery thriller The Pale Blue Eye.
Bale, who was born in England but has lived in Los Angeles for the past two decades, has been married to Sandra 'Sibi' Blažić since 2000, and the couple have a daughter and a son.
Bale is safely considered one of the greatest acting talents of his generation, and he's likely to be a top pick for important filmmakers for years to come.
Gone too soon: Heath Ledger tragically died of an accidental overdose months before The Dark Knight was released but after finishing his scenes. He went on to win a posthumous Academy Award; seen in 2006 in Berlin
Unforgettable: The role is the most acclaimed of his career and helped make The Dark Knight into an instant classic
Heath Ledger suffered the most tragic fate of any of The Dark Knight's principal cast.
After breaking out in the US with 10 Things I Hate About You, Ledger's career quickly soared with hits including The Patriot and A Knight's Tale, as well as the acclaimed drama Monster's Ball.
He scored some of his best reviews for the drama Brokeback Mountain, costarring Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Ang Lee, and interestingly, he costarred with Bale in the Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There, though they do not share any scenes together as they both play different, fictionalized versions of the legendary singer–songwriter.
His role as The Joker in The Dark Knight received instant acclaim for the creepy, psychopathic performance and his intriguing mannerisms.
However, the film was released amid tragedy, as Ledger had died of an accidental overdose in January 2008, prior to the film's release in July of that year.
Nolan stated that Ledger had completed all of his scenes for The Dark Knight prior to his death, which occurred due to an accidental overdose of multiple opioids and benzodiazepine drugs that the actor had been abusing prior to his death.
Ledger was reported to have long struggled with sleep, and he had been battling drug addiction for several years.
Ledger was survived by his former partner, Michelle Williams, whom he met in 2004 when they costarred in Brokeback Mountain. The two actors welcomed a daughter in 2005, but they split in 2007 — a year before his death — after Williams reportedly asked him to move out of their home due to his drug use.
After his breakup, Ledger had been linked to the models Helena Christensen and Gemma Ward.
His final posthumous role was in Terry Gilliam's fantasy film The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus.
Ledger starred as the lead character in the film, Tony Shepard, but after his death, Gilliam turned to three other actors — Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell — to fill in unfinished scenes. The character was shown to transform into the other stars during his travels in the Imaginarium, helping to explain the sudden change in appearance.
After his death, Ledger won a rare posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for playing the Joker.
Still kicking! Michael Caine, who played the loyal butler Alfred, has continued to work regularly with Nolan. He still makes films at 90 despite his difficult walking now; seen September 20 in London
The iconic star Michael Caine is still staying busy even after turning 90 in March.
Caine appeared in all three Nolan Batman films as Bruce Wayne's butler and caretaker Alfred.
He ended his tenure in the series with a meaningful final glance shared with Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises' last scene, and he has continued to collaborate with Nolan regularly on Interstellar, Dunkirk and Tenet, though he was surprisingly missing from his ensemble drama Oppenheimer.
Caine also appeared in other franchises, including Now You See Me and Kingsman, and he also starred with Harvey Keitel in Paolo Sorrentino's acclaimed Youth.
Several of his other projects in recent years have been low-budget affairs that were poorly reviewed and had only modest theatrical runs.
Caine currently spends his time in residences in Chelsea Harbour and Wimbledon with his second wife Shakira, to whom he's been married since 1973.
Although there have been concerns that Caine might give up acting due to his difficulty walking in recent years, so far the two-time Academy Award winner is still kicking.
In the director's chair: Gyllenhaal replaced Katie Holmes for The Dark Knight and scored better reviews. She