There are many ways to anticipate The Dark Knight. You can assemble a fake plot out of the numerous clips circulating the web, you can stitch together adorable bat-toys, or just rewatch Christopher Nolan's first entry in the Batman franchise. However, there's a lot more to this sprawling, nearly three hour rush of furious confrontations and haunting corruption. The greatest Batman stories emphasize the character's shadowy nature, and Nolan pulls from many of them to create the intensely moody aura of the latest film. You don't need to know anything about the character to enjoy the movie, but it certainly expands the experience to do some research -- and allows for a greater appreciation of the filmmaker's efforts to honor the nature of the character.

Here's a look at some antecedents to the current interpretation from the last two decades.