The Dark Knight (soundtrack)

The Dark Knight (soundtrack)
The Dark Knight: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard
Released CD July 15, 2008
LP August 12, 2008
Special Edition December 9, 2008
Recorded April 4, 2008 - April 30, 2008
Genre Soundtrack, film score
Length 73:24
Label Reprise (US), WMG International (international)
Batman soundtrack chronology
Batman Begins
The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the soundtrack album to Christopher Nolan's 2008 film The Dark Knight, the sequel to Nolan's 2005 film Batman Begins. The soundtrack was released on July 15, 2008, in three editions: CD, limited edition CD digipak, and digital download. The 2CD Special Edition was released on December 9, 2008, along with the DVD. A limited edition 180-gram vinyl LP was released on August 12, 2008.[1] The soundtrack was composed by Batman Begins collaborators Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard and recorded in April 2008.

The score won the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture.



Zimmer originally said the main Batman theme was purposely introduced at the end of Batman Begins, and would be fleshed out in the sequel as the character develops.[2] Zimmer and Howard both believed that creating a heroic theme that a viewer could hum would ignore the complexity and darkness of the character. The Batman theme (audible twice early in the film, once towards the end and a final time at the beginning of the end credits) creates what Zimmer described as a "red herring", a kind of musical foreshadowing,[3] which was played by a cello.

The nine-minute suite for the Joker ("Why So Serious") was based around two notes played by Electric cello, solo violin, guitars and a string section. Zimmer compared its style to the band Kraftwerk, who come from his native Germany, as well as his work with bands like The Damned.[3] Throughout the piece, Zimmer used razor blades on string instruments to achieve the tortured, twisted sound to accompany the character on the screen. When Ledger died, Zimmer stated that he felt like scrapping his original material and composing a new theme, but decided that to do so would compromise the "evil [performance] projects".[4] James Newton Howard composed the "elegant and beautiful" themes for Harvey Dent/Two-Face, to work as an aural contrast.[3]

The heroic brass theme which plays when Batman leaves Ducard to die in Batman Begins makes a reappearance when Batman hurls the Joker off the building in the film's climax. The cue was released on the two-disc special edition, and can be found on the track "We Are Tonight's Entertainment". The second disc can also be found for digital download over iTunes.[5][6]


The soundtrack debuted on the Billboard 200 list at #20, with 25,000 copies sold in the first week.[7] During its second week in release, the track fell to #23, with an estimated 20,000 copies sold. It dropped out of top 100 on its third week, but held the position of #192 selling 2,100. On its fourth week it fell out of the Top 200.

A 2 CD Special Edition of The Dark Knight soundtrack was released on December 9, 2008. In addition to the 14 tracks on the regular release, an additional 10 tracks of score were added to the second disc, along with four remixes by The Crystal Method, Paul Van Dyk, Mel Wesson, and Ryeland Allison, packaged as a digibook in a semi-artificial leather slipcase with the Batsign cut out. The Digibook features several movie scenes, production details and a few words from Christopher Nolan on the collaboration with Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. The first disc is exactly the same as the original release, with additional tracks and remixes on the latter disc.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[8]
Empire 4/5 stars[9]
Film Music (B)[10]
Filmtracks 2/5 stars[11]
IGN (9.4/10)[12]
iTunes (favorable)[13]
SoundtrackNet 3.5/5 stars[14]
Tracksounds (8/10)[15]

The score received favorable responses. Websites like, and have released mostly positive reviews, commending the score's blend of electronic and orchestral elements as well as its continued departure from the tone of the original Tim Burton Batman series set by Danny Elfman.[16][17][18] Other sites, like Movie Music UK and especially found the score to be bland and uncreative, with many elements borrowed from the previous scores of both composers, especially previous scores by Zimmer. reviewer Christian Clemmensen found the track "Why so Serious" unlistenable and referred to it as "nine minutes of your life that you'll never get back". Other complaints were about Batman's new heroic theme, featured most heavily in Like a Dog Chasing Cars, which Clemmensen considered "a murky blend of The Last Samurai, The Thin Red Line, The Da Vinci Code, and Crimson Tide."[19][20]


On February 8, 2009, the soundtrack was awarded the Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture.[21] In May 2009, the soundtrack won a Classical BRIT Award for Best Soundtrack.

Track listing

1st Disc

# Title Length Key Scenes/Notes
1 "Why So Serious?" 9:14 Played whenever the Joker appears. This cue is named when the Joker tells Gambol "Why so serious?". Hans Zimmer was the composer of this piece and tried using different experiments on instruments to create a wide variety of distinctive noises for the piece.
2 "I'm Not a Hero" 6:34 Directly after the bank robbery (when Mike Engel is interviewing the Mayor), when the plane lands in the water to pick up Bruce and when Batman is in Hong Kong retrieving Lau. Edited slightly when Mr. Reese tries blackmailing Lucius Fox. This cue is named when Batman says "Because I'm not a hero. Not like Dent." Played in sections throughout movie.
3 "Harvey Two-Face" 6:16 Harvey Dent and Two-Face's theme. This cue is named when Gordon tells Harvey's nickname which is "Harvey-Two-Face". James Newton Howard was the composer.
4 "Aggressive Expansion" 4:35 The first part is played at the end of movie; the scene when Batman escapes on his Batpod. The middle is during Fox's meeting with Lau in Hong Kong. The end is played when the Joker kills Commissioner Loeb, Judge Surillo, and comes for Harvey Dent at the party saying: 'We made it'! The name comes from the Joker line: "There's a lot of potential for aggressive expansion."
5 "Always a Catch" 1:39 The beginning is while the Joker wildly guns down other cars demanding Batman hit him. This line is not said in the film, but would have been placed during the scene where Gordon and Batman discuss the Joker's ferry situation. The script has Gordon yelling to Batman: "Then he'll blow them both up! There's no time- we have to go in now-" and Batman responds: "There's always a catch with him-" before getting ready to rescue the hostages from the hospital.
6 "Blood on My Hands" 2:16 During Harvey Dent and Gordon's first scene together. This one is named for when Bruce says: "...Maybe, but I have enough blood on my hands."
7 "A Little Push" 2:42 While Harvey threatens a thug using his coin and a revolver. This one is named from when the Joker says: "... All it takes is a little push."
8 "Like a Dog Chasing Cars" 5:02 Commissioner Gordon co-ordinates the assault on the Joker's building, but Batman interrupts him and glides to the building. The bulk of this track was originally intended to be used during the armored car chase scene, but at the last minute director Christopher Nolan took it out, making this music unused. The cue is named after the hospital scene in which The Joker tells Harvey Dent "I'm like a dog chasing cars."
9 "I Am the Batman" 1:59 While Alfred tells Bruce a story of his time in Burma. The cue is titled after the press conference scene when Harvey says that he's Batman.
10 "And I Thought My Jokes Were Bad" 2:28 When Bruce is driving around making sure Mr. Reese is not killed. The title is from when the Joker appears to the mobsters and says "And I thought my jokes were bad."
11 "Agent of Chaos" 6:55 Batman goes to rescue Rachel after the interrogation with the Joker, the Joker escapes, Rachel's death and Harvey's disfigurement, and aftermath. Named when Joker says, "I'm an agent of chaos" during the hospital scene.
12 "Introduce a Little Anarchy" 3:42 Begins as Batman realises that the Joker has dressed the hostages as his henchmen, "Clowns." Finishes when the Joker pushes Batman through a net. The line is said during the hospital scene.
13 "Watch the World Burn" 3:47 Plays as Harvey Dent/Two-Face holds Gordon and his family at gunpoint. Concludes with Batman tackling Dent. The title is from when Alfred describes the Joker by saying, "Some men just want to watch the world burn."
14 "A Dark Knight" 16:14 A compilation of parts of the ferry scene (in particular, the moment where the Joker counts down to midnight - "And... here... we.. go!"), Fox's arrival to Hong Kong, the ending scene, the credits and some album-exclusive cues. The title comes from Gordon's final monologue when he describes Batman as, "a silent guardian, a watchful protector, a dark knight."

2nd Disc - (Bonus Special Edition)

# Title Length Key Scenes/Notes
1 "Bank Robbery (Prologue)" 5:24
2 "Buyer Beware" 2:56 When Batman breaks up the meeting between the Chechen and the Scarecrow. The title comes from a line said during the meeting by the Scarecrow in response to the Chechen yelling at him about his toxin.
3 "Halfway to Hong Kong" 3:43 The first scene in the new "Batcave" and Sal Maroni's trial. The title comes from a line said by Harvey when Lau escapes.
4 "Decent Men in an Indecent Time" 2:51 When Gordon returns home, when Batman tortures Sal Maroni, when Dent threatens Thomas Schiff (before 'A Little Push') and the opening titles. The title comes from the scene where Two-Face, confronted by Batman, says, "You thought we could be decent men in an indecent time!"
5 "You're Gonna Love Me" 4:51 During Dent's conversation with the Mayor in his office when the hanged Batman imposter slams on the window. Also when the Joker is at the penthouse party, Batman arrives, and Rachel is thrown off of the building. Also the end is where Bruce kisses Rachel in his apartment. The title comes from a line said by Batman before he fights the Joker and his men at the fundraiser.
6 "Chance" 3:34 The aftermath of the Joker's attempt to kill the mayor, Harvey claims to be Batman, and when he gives Rachel the coin. The title comes from the scene when Two-Face is confronted by Batman and says, "And the only morality in a cruel world is chance."
7 "You Complete Me" 4:51 During the interrogation between Batman and the Joker, when the Joker kills the Chechen, when Gordon is preparing to ambush the Joker after that, when the Joker places the threat on Mr. Reese and when the Batpod bursts out of the Tumbler. The title comes from a line said by the Joker in the interrogation scene.
8 "The Ferries" 9:57 The scene with the Joker and Harvey in the hospital, the end of the death threat on Reese, the bar scene with Two-Face and Wuertz, when the Joker threatens the ferries, and when Two-Face interrogates Ramirez.
9 "We Are Tonight's Entertainment" 5:38 The climax of the ferry scene, when Batman throws the Joker out of the building and the Joker tells Batman that he had corrupted Harvey. The title from a line said by the Joker when he crashes the fundraiser.
10 "A Watchful Guardian" 6:45 From the part where Batman tackles Two-Face until the credits. The title comes from combining "A watchful protector" and "silent guardian" in Gordon's monologue, mentioned in "A Dark Knight."
11 "Why So Serious?" 5:30 The Crystal Method Remix
12 "Poor Choice of Words" 6:15 Paul van Dyk Remix. The title comes from when the Joker drops Rachel, saying, "A very poor choice of words."
13 "Gunpowder and Gasoline" 4:34 Mel Wesson Remix. The title comes from the scene where the Joker confronted the Chechen and sets the mob's money and Lau on fire, saying, "I enjoy dynamite and gunpowder and gasoline!"
14 "Rory's First Kiss" 6:04 Ryeland Allison Remix. The title comes from a fake working title for The Dark Knight.

Tracks not included within the release of the soundtrack:[22]

# Title Performer(s) Key Scenes/Notes
1 "Balmoral" The Pipes and Drums of Chicago Police Department Played during Commissioner Loeb's funeral.
2 "Scatterin' Monkey" Boom Boom Satellites Played in Maroni's night club.
3 "4 A Moment of Silence" Boom Boom Satellites

Chart positions

Chart (2008) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200[23] 20
Top Internet Albums[23] 23
Top Soundtracks[23] 3


  1. ^ "The Dark Knight Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Coming July 15". IESB. 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  2. ^ Dan Goldwasser (2006-11-02). "Breaking the Rules with Hans Zimmer, Part 3". SoundtrackNet ( Retrieved 2006-11-03. 
  3. ^ a b c Todd Martens (2008-06-02). "Zimmer Brings 'punk attitude' to Batman with 'The Dark Knight'". Los Angeles Times ( Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  4. ^ Jeanne Wolf (2008-07-01). "Singing the Joker's Praises". Parade. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  5. ^ "The Dark Knight Special Edition at". 
  6. ^ "The Dark Knight (Bonus Digital Release) by Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard - Download The Dark Knight (Bonus Digital Release) on iTunes". 2009-01-27. Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  7. ^ "Billboard News Release". 
  8. ^ Allmusic review
  9. ^ Graydon, Danny. "Review of The Dark Knight". Empire. Retrieved February 8, 2010. 
  10. ^ Film Music review
  11. ^ Filmtracks review
  12. ^ IGN review
  13. ^ iTunes review
  14. ^ SoundtrackNet review
  15. ^ Tracksounds review
  16. ^ "The Dark Knight (Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard". 2007-06-04. Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  17. ^ "The Dark Knight Soundtrack | Review on". Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  18. ^ Mike Brennan (2008-07-23). "SoundtrackNet : The Dark Knight Soundtrack". Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  19. ^ [1][dead link]
  20. ^ "The Dark Knight (Hans Zimmer/James Newton Howard)". Filmtracks. Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  21. ^ "Composer Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard: Return of the Dynamic Duo". Tracksounds!. 2008-05-30. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  22. ^ The Dark Knight End Credits
  23. ^ a b c "Billboard Albums: The Dark Knight". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 

External links

Preceded by
Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album
Succeeded by

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