I was watching Batman: The Dark Knight the other day and something jogged my memory. There is a scene where the Joker puts two bombs in two separate boats and gives the detonator to the boat owners. He claims that each boat can use the detonator to blow up the other boat, before the other boat does the same. Eventually, the time limit runs out and no boats explode, thus proving that Gotham is good and redeemable.

Now, I'm not sure if I imagined/dreamt/read somewhere that each boat had in fact its own detonator. If they pressed the button, they would blow themselves up, not the other boat. This would be an even larger twist on the game.

Is this actually real? Is this what happens in the comics or on the original Batman movie? Or did I just read this on some theory on the web?

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    There was no similar scene in the Batman movie you linked. In fact, the Burton trilogy is completely different from Nolan's trilogy, down to the origin of both Joker and Batman. The Joker, moreso, but Batman's origin was slightly different in both trilogies. Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 13:57
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    I recall the same twist after watching The Dark Knight, so at the very least it's not just you =P. Unfortunately I can't find any evidence in the online scripts right now to back it up, but I do believe you are correct. I don't know of any similarities to the comics though, so I got this purely from the movie.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 14:01
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    I recall watching that scene for the first time and thinking "hmm, I bet that it's going to turn out that each boat actually had its own detonator, not the other one"; but the movie never actually shows if this was the case, or hints that it could be. But there's no reason in the movie that it couldn't be that way either; we'll never know.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 15:04
  • @Gendolkari - I've gone back and forth on this in my head. When first viewing the movie, my snap reaction was exactly the same as yours. But since then, I've asked myself: "Would Joker think it was funnier to watch one boat's occupants blow up the other boat 'in self defense,' or would he think it was funnier to double-cross them by making 'em blow up their own boat?" Sometimes I favor one answer to that question . . . sometimes the other . . . and sometimes I suspect that pushing either button would automatically cause both boats to explode a moment later!
    – Lorendiac
    Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 0:52

1 Answer 1


While we will never know as neither boat used their detonator, I would suggest that they had each others, going purely on what was shown and what the film makers were trying to say.

The Joker's previous 'gag' - which also failed - was to try and get Gothamites to kill each other for own protection or self interest as he believed it would demonstrate a general moral bankruptcy.

'You failed to kill the lawyer...' - I cannot remember how the rest of the line goes but the boat finale appears to come from a desire to repeat the exercise and Batman puts the emphasis on all of this in his final rebuke. The film also goes a long way to show that both sets of passengers specifically reject the opportunity to kill each other - even for self defence.

If a comic source for this plot line does actually show this as a double - bluff then it is still irrelevant to what was actually said and shown in 'The Dark Knight'.

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