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Christopher Nolan Mentions the Joker and The Dark Knight Rises (and How the Two Will Intersect)

The untimely death of Heath Ledger was shocking and sad not least because he was so young but also because he impressed so much in his work. Whether it was industry insiders or fans, like myself, who’d grown up with him as a reliable hartthrobby leading man and were eager to watch him take the Joker to places we’d never seen the character before in cinema, there were a lot of people who felt that a historic acting career had been cut short just as it was starting to hit its stride.

And, okay, I’m a little ashamed to say that one of my other immediate thoughts was to wonder how this would affect The Dark Knight and the movies that came after it, and how Christopher Nolan‘s uncompromising commitment to his stories and their thematic arcs would conflict with the desire to do right by a colleague now gone. Nolan himself talked to Empire about how the Joker will affect The Dark Knight Rises, and the rest is going behind the cut for those who don’t want that question answered until they actually see the movie. So if you’re one of those people don’t read past this point.

We’re not addressing The Joker at all. 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. 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.

I had friends who, after seeing The Dark Knight insisted that the villain of the next movie had to be the Joker, and that somebody would obviously have to be hired to replace him. I disagreed at the time, and still do. It’s easy to forget that the people who make movies are human beings, who, while working together, develop relationships. As fun as it is to cast roles in our heads, in this case its worth remembering that the loss of a friend understandably motivates people to preserve and hold precious the work and life of that person. But I have to admit that the writer in me is desperately curious to know what cameo or reference Nolan might have made with the Joker if Heath Ledger were still with us today, just to know how he would have fit the character into Batman’s Rise. But that’s the writer in me, not the empathetic person who knows the difference between characters and people.

(via Comics Alliance.)

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  • John Wao

    “For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.”
    John Greenleaf Whittier

  • Steven Ray Morris

    I understand where he’s coming from, but part of me feels like the lack of mentioning the joker will only make us notice it more…we’ll see…

  • Anonymous

    Not every Batman story has to have the Joker in it. I’m all Joker-ed out, personally.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    It’s irritating that suddenly Heath Ledge = The Joker.

  • Frodo Baggins

    “what cameo or reference Nolan might have made with the Joker if Heath Ledger were still with us today”

    I don’t think it would have been a cameo or reference. I think it would have been a major role.

  • Frodo Baggins

    Just in the Nolanverse. Nobody’s saying Mark Hamill has to retire.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I would be fine if that were strictly the case but I get the sense that people think he’s more than just the Nolan Joker, but the quintessential Joker.

  • Frodo Baggins

    Well, as far as film incarnations go, he’s my favorite. But, as with Batman, I think of him as a fluid character, not a specific actor. On the other hand, Tony Stark is just straight up RDJ to me, because that’s my only experience with the character.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I think of him as my “favorite (so far)” and worry that most other people will never get to the “(so far)” and we’ll never see another incarnation done so freely. We are in total agreement about RDJ, though.

  • Jake Overton

    I’m completely on-board with not mentioning, or ever recasting Joker.  Heath Ledger did such a great job, and most involved with “The Dark Knight” were very close to him.  Would I geek-out if there were to be any mention of Joker in “The Dark Knight Rises”?  ABSOLUTELY!  But I’m also so relieved that he is respecting his performance, and Ledger himself.  BUT, if he were to recast Joker, I’ve gotta say that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be perfect.  Also, is anybody else curious what the story would’ve been if Heath Ledger hadn’t passed away?  I can’t help but to think that he would’ve been the villain again in “TDKR.”

  • Brian

    I admit, I’d have loved to have seen him in Arkham. Ooh, or on trial. Stripped of his makeup and hair dye, freaking out on the stand… Yeah. And when they cast JGL, I assumed they were going with him, because seriously, look at the two of them.

  • Anonymous

    Classy man that Nolan, they’re are a lot of directors who would want to please their fans or worse, their producers before their own conscience’s. In the end, the fans have more respect for him, and he can respect himself and his movies

  • Ted Van Duyn

    Reasonings like this always bugs me in strange ways. While I understand where Nolan is coming from, it’s kind of hard for me to find any respect in honoring Heath’s role as the Joker when the follow-up film is literally going out of it’s way to ensure that no mention of the Joker will ever be brought up. Forgetting he exists is not my idea of honoring someone.

  • William Franklin

    thats bs. u cant have a batman movie with out the joker. i love heath ledger and i understand wanting to preserve his role as the joker, but how many diff people have played the joker in the past? alot. so however his performance was amazing it shouldnt stop a director from putting a character in a movie. espessilly such an important one.