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Was The Joker Mentioned In The Dark Knight Rises?

We may never know for sure if director Christopher Nolan would have utilized the Joker in The Dark Knight Rises had actor Heath Ledger not passed away but we can certainly wonder what it would have been like. Did you notice any reference to the Clown Prince of Crime in TDKR? There’s an interesting tidbit you might have missed. 

Ok, if you’ve seen TDKR, you know the Joker isn’t even mentioned in passing but that doesn’t mean the character was ignored entirely by the creators. In The Dark Knight Rises: The Official Novelization, author Greg Cox gives some information on the character’s whereabouts.

Now that the Dent Act had made it all but impossible for the city’s criminals to cop an insanity plea, it (Blackgate Prison) had replaced Arkham Asylum as a preferred location for imprisoning both convicted and suspected felons. The worst of the worst were sent here, except for the Joker, who, rumor had it, was locked away as Arkham’s sole remaining inmate. Or perhaps he had escaped. Nobody was really sure. Not even Selina.

Now, you can take that with a grain of salt if you wish since we don’t have a copy of the novelization to confirm it and it was written out by a user on the IMDB message boards but it’s interesting to think about. [EDIT: MTV now has a picture of this exact passage so we know it's at least real.] We also don’t know at this point if the novelization was based on any original script drafts, if Nolan approved of it at all, or if the writer simply took his own path for the sake of art and entertainment.

What we do know is Nolan had previously done interviews in which he stated they would not be addressing the Joker at all in TKDR. “That is something I felt very strongly about in terms of my relationship with Heath and the experience I went through with him on The Dark Knight, he said. “I didn’t want to in any way try and account for a real-life tragedy. That seemed inappropriate to me. We just have a new set of characters and a continuation of Bruce Wayne’s story. Not involving The Joker.”

Would you have liked to see some mention of the Joker in TDKR or were you fine with them ignoring the character and moving on with the story?

(via /Film)

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  • Liz Long

    A friend was disappointed there was no mention and thought for sure if Ledger were alive, he would’ve been in TDKR, but I disagreed. His villain was the best of them IMO, but this movie was focused on Bane and the rest. Adding in the Joker would’ve taken away a lot of the story because we would’ve wanted to see the Joker most of the time (at least, I would’ve!). I’m glad they didn’t really acknowledge it just because I wanted to pay attention to the new villains. Scarecrow was a nice cameo, but he was never as engaging as the Joker, so that was fine as a quick nod to the first film.

  • Anonymous

    With Dent mentioned heavily, Ras showing up, and Scarecrow making a lovely appearance, it felt out-of-place to not mention the Joker, even in passing. Even if an under character had said something like “man, things haven’t been this crazy in Gotham since that lunatic tried to blow up the prison boat,” it would have felt more like a continuation and less like a sweeping-under-the-rug.

    Ledger’s death was an absolute tragedy, but in terms of story, leaving out the character altogether just doesn’t make sense.

  • grog1138

    Even though the Joker wasn’t mentioned, I thought the Joker’s presence was felt throughout the movie.  The tone of TDKR was set by the Joker’s rampage in the previous movie.  It hung over Gotham like a Dark Cloud.  On the flip side, it also made the citizens stronger.  Instead of having Batman copy cats fighting crime in TDKR, we get the citizens of Gotham embodying the Batman Symbol.

  • captain sharmie

    I never expected the Joker to be involved in this movie, even if Heath Ledger was alive. The Joker is a character who takes over the entire story he appears in; he can’t just appear in a Scarecrow-style cameo and then leave again. And it’s so like the Joker to disappear for a long time without any word, make the city forget about him… And then bam, he’s back, causing serious trouble for Gotham. I could see the Joker in later movies, but hopefully not for at least 10 years.

  • Anonymous

    In a way, I would have liked to have him mentionned because he was such an important part of Batman’s story in the trilogy.

    But ultimately, I understand that movies are made by human beings, and that those humans have to grieve when something like that happen.

  • Steven Ray Morris

    To be honest I was surprised I didn’t even think of the Joker while watching Dark Knight Rises. Nolan made it work.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    With so much of Dark Knight Rises relying on the previous films, Nolan’s respectful silence definitely damaged the plot and the logic of the film. Surely a group hellbent on causing chaos in Gotham would release the Joker into the calamity…

    Of course, I had several issues with the film, least of all the Joker’s exclusion. The scene in the doctor’s office was funny (Bale’s face –I read it as he was using the doctor visit as merely a diversion and didn’t expect a laundry list of reasons that he should stick to being a retired recluse– was hilarious) but it would have helped me believe that he had taken such severe damage if he weren’t already told that he had spent eight years in retirement. A decade-long career of fighting crime, perhaps, but the two outings from the previous films didn’t look like they caused nearly enough destruction on his body…and it would have been nice to see familiar cameos pouring out of Blackgate, not just the extras from Waterworld and Beyond Thunderdome.

  • Stephen Mark Monteith

    I think, if the Joker had been part of the movie, he’d have escaped Arkham and possibly filled the role that Catwoman did.  No, not the love interest, the criminal who helps Batman defeat Bane.  Why?  Because the Joker hates plans, and “all that matters” to Bane “is our plan”.  It would have been like a WWE Triple Threat Match. *grins* And it would have rocked.

  • Anonymous

    They showed 2-face. They showed The Scarecrow (again) but without his mask which was a little sad for me. They talk about how only a few knew about Dent being 2 Face. The Joker knew about 2 Face. The Joker created him and wasn’t killed. So there was room for Joker but not in the foreground. Even a joker’s playing card found at the end in the rubble would have been great. If Heath didn’t die the Joker could would have been like Hannibal Lecter. He could have told Bane/Talia about Dent. Or even given a shadowy Hannibal back & forth with Batman about Bane.

    The loose Robin story felt forced…

  • Rebecca Fryer

    TDKR is not lacking for the absence of The Joker, the film pulled together nicely and was captivating.  It might have been nice to have a couple of nods in his direction but they would have been shoe-horned in for the sake of it rather than adding anything to the movie as a whole.

  • DarthLocke4

    I think in some ways just bringing up “The Dent Act” was enough to remind fans what the prequel story was and how it bridged us to the third act, but with out necessarily focusing on that act. In that sense you can see the trilogy come full circle, as it concentrated more on things addressed in the first film, which nicely solidifies Batman’s origins and ultimately whom Batman became. Nolan gave us a resolution, one that feels solid to his body of work, but yet enough left open to let us imagine the future of Batman, as we all know through various films and comics there is surely more story tell for a lot of the characters. This work  was prestigious! (;

    I felt that Joker needn’t be mentioned to get to where Nolan wanted to go, not that I think it wouldn’t have hurt anything, but I think it was very respectful to have not done so on Mr. Ledger’s behalf. Good form Mr. Nolan!

  • david mancha

    I walked away feeling if Ledger had not died that the Joker would of been the judge instead of the scarecrow

  • Brian

    Dangit, David, I read all the way down and said, ‘Ah, good no one’s mentioned that’, and then there you go. Now I can’t look all clever and just have to say “Yes, I agree with you.”

  • Raj

    So true! I said the same thing. In addition — the Joker wants to be the sole person to torture Batman on a psychological level — so I think he would have been the one to screw Bane over and ultimately “help” Batman.

  • Jennifer Vetere

     I completely agree.  When we walked out, I mentioned to my husband that I wished a nod had been given to the Joker.  What Ledger did in TDK was remarkable — he created an amazing persona for the Joker.  Ledger’s death was a tragedy and I can understand not wanting to ‘capitalize’ on a real-life tragedy or expound on it in any way… However, I can see the other side as well.  Leaving him out completely is like trying to deny there ever was a Joker to begin with — almost a slap in the face to Ledger.  My husband feels that any mention of the character would have been hard to accept because he could never see Ledger’s Joker being anyone’s lackey or second-in-command…  but I still believe he should have been mentioned some how, some way… even if it’s just a joker card taped to a window or a red smile graffitied on a wall.

  • Anonymous

     I agreed with TMS’s review, so I add this: With so many plot holes in the movie, there would have been plenty of room for shoehorning.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    I could see that. With Scarecrow as his bailiff. 

  • Christopher Martinez

     I dunno…honestly if it followed the Ethos of the comics, Bane and Batman woulda teamed up against the Joker in the end. So maybe Joker betrays Bane and goes too far or some such.

  • Christopher Martinez

    Maybe the Joker was so feared nobody wanted to mention him even in passing…like Voldermort in Harry Potter. 

  • Ted Fox

    Gordon kinda did mention him as “the enemy” when he explains why he lied to the city and the dent act to Blake

  • Alex T

    I’m actually kinda glad that they didn’t mention Joker. Whenever there’s a mention of him, you kinda just expect him to be there. It’s the sort of role that the Joker plays, to where you expect to see him, and with Ledger’s tragic death, it’s hard to have a mention of the Joker.

  • Katie

    I think they should have at least mentioned in passing. Maybe mention that he got sent to a prison outside of Gotham or something like that.

  • Amanda M. Ramsey

    I agree. It just felt really wrong that they didn’t mention the Joker at all considering what an impact he made to the city in the last movie.

  • Hailey Ferraro

    While I loved Crane’s Courtroom(One of my favorite set designs in the movie), it was there, that I missed the Joker the most. Can you imagine?  The Clown Prince acting as judge, jury, and executioner with Crane, the former psychologist, sitting at his feet with a steno pad and maybe a string of pearls?!  Putting another actor in to play the Joker or some horrid CGI mess would have completely taken me out of the movie, but if Heath had lived, that’s where I would have loved to see his Joker portrayed in TDKR.

  • Daniel Grossklaus

     It would have been so mind blowing if Ledger never passed and Joker walks in when Talia stabs Batman- Joker walking in surprising the group, proclaiming Gotham is still his play ground, and then ripping Banes mask off and possibly shooting or stabbing Talia. Or Batman seeking out Joker and convinvcing him to help Bats take down Bane. So many things could have happened with Joker.

  • Daniel Grossklaus

    Why has Victor Zsasz should have had more of a prominent role besides just a cameo in Begins

  • Daniel Grossklaus

    i kind of feel like Joker would have been gunning after Bane. Joker wouldnt have let someone else take the glory in bringing death and destruction to Gotham.

  • Daniel Grossklaus

    It would have been so mind blowing if Joker walks in when Talia stabs Batman- Joker walking in surprising the group, proclaiming Gotham is still his play ground, and then ripping Banes mask off and possibly shooting or stabbing Talia. Or Batman seeking out Joker and convinvcing him to help Bats take down Bane. So many things could have happened with Joker.

  • Daniel Grossklaus

    Just because Ledger has passed shouldnt stop Joker from being in more movies. Ledger was a damn good Joker, but every actor that has played Joker were great for the movies they were cast in. The Joker is a character. Any great actor can play him, it wont be the same as Ledger’s, but even Joker himself doesnt know his origin so it would have been fine for a slightly different character to be on screen.

  • Anonymous

    I dont know if its me trying to shoe horn Joker in for my own personal pleasure but didn’t Talia’s knife speach sound a lot like Jokers in TDK.
    To me this suggested a link between them both and maybe a link between the Al Ghuls to the Joker.

    Or is just me (probably)

  • Carmen Sandiego

     I also felt some of the ‘chaos’ theme from TDK hung over in TDKR.  The entire time I was imagining Joker sitting in Arkham, happily watching things unfold on the tv in his cell.   Even though there was no allusion to him (formally) in the movie, I didn’t feel his absence; I could easily put him there while the events unfolded.

  • Seanna Tucker

    I felt a lot of the Joker’s presence in the movie, simply because I couldn’t get it out of my head how much Bane is the opposite of The Joker, because Bane is more “organized chaos” than “chaos all around.” 

    But, I would have loved to have at least seen some graffiti or his card. Or someone who used to work for him mentioning him. Although, I guess they wouldn’t have survived working for them, would they? OR, some hint at Harley Quinn. 

  • Dave Saunders

    Wish we saw just even just a glimpse of maybe a purple coat but can’t Always get what we want. As far as Joker in the movie … simple Joker doesn’t share power. Had Joker been held at Blackgate I am sure he would have been locked in a lonely cell all by himself with Bane’s henchmen looking after him. Joker is a one person chaos machine and something that Bane nor anyone else would never have been able to control.

  • Brooke Stenz

    The joker is too much of an “involved” character. Everything he does he just completely takes over. There never could be just a 5 minute scene with him in it, maybe possibly an ending? But i think they did a great job bringing in previous characters to TDKR even without the joker.

  • Mia R.

    Well, in my head-canon, the events in the RockSteady Batman games take place in the period between the near-end of the second movie and the beginning of the third. Because Arkham City wraps the whole Joker thing up nicely.  :)

    I know they technically don’t even take place in the same universe, but it seems like a logical reason for the Joker to not even be spoken of in TDKR.

  • Kyle Schock

    If Heath was still alive, I believe Nolan would have finished the Joker story with batman, because Nolan didn’t even think there would be a 3rd movie..but he had to finish the “trilogy”. The Joker was the best character in all of the trilogy. Joker didn’t have to blow up gotham or take it over…he did it in a way with his mind and smarts and chaos all around….and he took out gothams most important person….harvey dent!! and then thats when batman went away and two face was killed

  • Heather Anderson

    You’re not alone. It had to be.

  • kam

    The bottom line is that Christopher Nolan confirmed that the Joker would not even be mentioned, let alone shown, in memory of Heath ledger; in TDKR.

    Also, the “war” was mentioned a few times in TDKR. What war? Considering that Bruce Wayne hadn’t even been Batman for an entire year yet, when the events of RDK happened, and no other large scale conflicts that the Gotham City Police Force were a part of, are mentioned in BB or TDK. So I think it is fair to say that the Joker actually is mentioned by was of implicit induction.

    Aside from that, one idea to entertain in Christopher Nolan’s world of realistic Batman, is that the Joker probably would have ended up being given a death sentence and executed, rather than kept at Arkham. Since Nolan reminds us that his Batman world was meant to run as parallel to reality as possible, it would be fair to make this assumption, as killing a cop warrants an automatic death sentence, regardless of degree. The Joker was responsible for the death of quite a few cops, a police commissioner, and a judge. Combine that with his acts of terrorism, and you have yourself one dead clown; who’s trial and sentencing wouldn’t have taken eight years to be carried out. Nor would it have been likely that he would have been granted a stay of execution under any circumstances. Just one of many ideas to entertain.

  • kam

    I think the Joker probably would have put himself in a position to use Bane, his army, and Daggett’s resources as pawns in a second and even darker campaign of anarchy and chaos on Gotham, as well as an all out revenge plot against the Batman (once he realized that Batman was out of retirement).

  • Rumpof Steeleskin

    I thought so too, so I looked up both quotes. The Joker says “Guns are too quick; knifes let you savor all the little emotions. In… you see, in their last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way, I know your friends better than you ever did. Would you like to know which of them were cowards? ” whereas Talia says “it’s the slow knife, the knife that takes its time, the knife that waits years without forgetting, then slips quietly between the bones. That’s the knife that cuts deepest.” Reminiscent of the Joker? Yes. Related? Not necessarily.

  • Bryson Russell

    If Ledger would not have died. There would be no Bane No Judge. EVERYTHING would have been different.

  • Sean

    The lack of mention to the Joker was another reason I didn’t like this movie. The Dark Knight offered no closure to the Joker, and it just seems like he never happened in Rises.

  • Deep Red Lights

    The crane was obvious choice to be the Judge. The Joker didn’t have any
    connections to League Of Shadows and Dr.Crane was part in LOS in the
    beginning of Batman trilogy. There was no point include Joker in the
    DKR, because he has no connections to League Of Shadows!

  • Jonathan Darrel Woodruff

    It’s hard to believe you’re serious. Mixed Martial Artists do irreparable damage to their bodies with readily available medical attention
    and months of training camps within a few years. Could you imagine what Bruce Wayne’s body endured in the time between the events of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight without regular medical attention from the most competent practitioners of medicine? We see in the second film that he often treats himself.
    Of course, you should know that more occurred in the duration of those “outings” than we were shown. In the time that Batman was active, he surely incurred all manner of injuries.
    Let’s not forget that Bruce Wayne wasn’t exactly easy on himself prior to his foray into crime fighting. He immersed himself in the criminal world, and there’s no telling what he subjected himself to.
    In summary, I think your piffling quibbles are unwarranted, and I think you are looking for reasons to dislike the film. Anyone with an imagination can reconcile any of the supposed inconsistencies themselves.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Nolan gave no indication that Batman was up to anything outside of what we had seen. At the end of Begins, he’s told about a bank vault robbery and given the Joker’s card. The second film kicks off with a robbery that may well have been the same robbery but is just as likely another, perhaps a few weeks later…but not much more. Sure, we don’t see much of his training before the League of Shadows, but we do see him fight in the mud and he looks like a brawler, not much training under his belt. His injury, we’re given to believe, is from the gunshot he sustained in the second film. Nolan seems to put everything right out front. I don’t think there’s anything to delve deeper into. But we’re not shown how he got back into Gotham, how he escaped the nuke blast…a near impossibility given what we’re shown…the movie stunk. One was eh. Two was a masterpiece, Three was not.

  • Carlos Velásquez-Corleto

    When the prisoners were coming out of Black Gate, I would have loved to see Mr. Zsasz and Carmine from Batman Begins, and as far as the joker being mentioned, they could’ve indirectly referenced him without actually using the word “JOKER”, kind of how they referenced Killer Croc, they just said something about a giant alligator in the sewers, so they could’ve had some pedestrian mention how he remembered that Gotham had gone through Chaos about 8 years back.

  • Ivan Rodriguez

    This movie’s plot was entirely based on the fact that Ledger was not going to be able to return as the Joker. That is the only reason Bane was chosen as the villain for the TDKR. Had Ledger had been alive, the Joker would have been incorporated in TDKR, and bane probably wouldnt of been.