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Game Theory in “The Dark Knight”

In 2008, director Christopher Nolan produced award winning movie, “The Dark Knight.” Not only does this film have spectacular cinematography and an accomplished cast, but “The Dark Knight” also incorporates game theory that leads to the demise of many cast members.

While game theory is intertwined throughout the entire movie, I would like to examine the opening scene. Three bank robbers are in the car discussing how many ways they should split the shares once they successfully rob the bank. While one suggests that since there are two men on the roof and three in the car meaning they only need to split it five ways, another, however, interjects that it will have to be six ways so that the man who planned the job will receive a cut as well. This sparks controversy as sharing with the Joker, who planned the robbery, would entail adding a sixth cut for unequal work. Yet each member of the robbery team haw to trust that this sharing system will work, otherwise they will not receive any compensation at all, or worse, they will be killed.

Little did they know, the Joker instructs two robbers to kill their partner once their respective tasks are completed; thus, this reduces the amount of cuts. The audience soon learns that the Joker himself is on the job, and he proceeds to kill the other two men left on the job, and the Joker escapes with the full lot of money.

Game theory applies to this outcome in that the teammates in the robbery tasks were told to trust each other with hopes that they will survive and get remunerated. In order to achieve this, robbers must look ahead at possible (negative) outcomes. Since the robbers have the opportunity to confer with each other, the option for deception is more likely. If one robber is able to get their teammate to agree to a task (in this clip- disarming the alarm and opening the vault), the other teammate can exploit the guaranteed outcome, and pick their moves based on what they know what is going to happen.

Meanwhile, the Joker knows everything that is going on. Once the alarm is dismantled, the vault is opened, and two of the robbers are killed, the Joker is now the lead man that gains the trust of the remaining two. He is able to kill them, and escape the bank with all the acquired money.



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