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Christopher Nolan Is 'Plagued' By The Dark Knight's Most Iconic Line For One Reason

Christopher Nolan's writing and direction in "The Dark Knight" is an integral part of why the Batman film starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, and Michael Caine is considered one of the greatest films of all time. However, one of the influential film's most iconic lines wasn't written by the "Oppenheimer" visionary, and it still plagues him.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Deadline, Nolan and frequent collaborator Cillian Murphy discussed their past projects and what makes them such a great pair. Talking about "The Dark Knight," where Murphy played the villain Scarecrow, Nolan admitted he didn't write Harvey Dent's (Aaron Eckhart) famous line about being a hero or villain. The filmmaker noted it was penned by his brother (and the film's co-writer), Jonathan Nolan. 

"It kills me because it's the line that most resonates. And at the time, I didn't even understand it," Nolan said. "[Dent] says, 'You either die a hero or you live long enough to become the villain.' I read it in [Jonathan's] draft, and I was like, 'All right, I'll keep it in there, but I don't really know what it means' ... And then, over the years since that film's come out, it just seems truer and truer. In this story, it's absolutely that. Build them up, tear them down. It's the way we treat people."

Both Nolans are responsible for iconic lines

"The Dark Knight," written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, remains one of the most quotable movies ever. Notable examples include Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) telling Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), "Some men just want to watch the world burn," Joker's sinister moments where he asks, "You wanna know how I got these scars?" and the Clown Prince of Crime's "Why so serious?" So, while Christopher isn't responsible for the iconic Harvey Dent line, he's contributed dialogue that will stand the test of time.

For a while, Jonathan Nolan was mainly known for collaborating with his brother, co-writing "Memento," "The Prestige," "The Dark Knight," "The Dark Knight Rises," and "Interstellar." However, he has emerged as a significant talent without the help of his maestro sibling. Jonathan is the creator, writer, director, and executive producer of the now-concluded science fiction dramas "Person of Interest" and "Westworld." He's also producing and directing multiple episodes of Amazon's adaptation of the post-apocalyptic video game "Fallout," a series he developed with his wife Lisa Joy. Looking further ahead, Jonathan, Joy, and Leonore Zion will be showrunners for the adaptation of the Norwegian crime novel "The Son."

Jonathan remains booked and busy, establishing his own path apart from his brother. Still, he has bragging rights regarding the most iconic line in "The Dark Knight," even if Christopher gets most of the credit for creating the beloved film.

To read more about Christopher Nolan's Batman films, check out the untold truth about the Dark Knight trilogy.