BATMAN ON FILM, 'The Dark Knight Fansite!' Est. 1998.

OPINION

Heath-Joker "Hate" Getting A Tad Silly
Author: Jett
Tuesday, December 25, 2007

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The author of this article is a proud and very vocal fan of Christopher Nolan’s cinematic take on Batman. He believes that the director is delivering the best and most loyal film version of the character to date.

As far as the previous Batman film series, the author is very fond of BATMAN ‘89; despises BATMAN RETURNS and believes it to be a Batman film in name only; considers BATMAN FOREVER a wasted opportunity; and, can laugh at BATMAN AND ROBIN today.)

Making an educated guess, I’d say that a good majority of Bat-fans are on board with the THE DARK KNIGHT version of The Joker. I’m basing my belief on email feedback first and foremost, as well as what I’ve read on other websites and message boards across the Net.

If I had to put a percentage on it, I would guestemate that at least 3 out of every 4, or roughly 75%, dig “The Heath-Joker”

A couple of weeks ago, I’d have put it at something like 55/45 in favor of the new Joker. So what was the cause of this drastic change? What do you think it was? Come on, the answer’s quite easy…

The PROLOGUE and the 1st TDK trailer.

I think that The Joker -- as portrayed by Heath Ledger -- seen in the trailer and PROLOGUE simply blew people away. Hell, I was already on board and it still knocked my socks off!

Methinks that many people who were on the fence were totally won over by what they saw of The Joker in that trailer. Heck, even the people that may not particularly like the “look” of this Joker were convinced by what looks to be a truly spectacular and special performance by Ledger.

And speaking of the “look” of the TDK Joker…

Based on appearance alone, how in the hell is this not The Joker? The Joker has white skin, red lips, green hair, and wears purple.

Doesn’t that ring true with this version of the character too?

Based on my extreemly non-scientific research, I’m going to say that it boils down to the makeup issue with these naysayers. To which I say “so what.” (What I’d really like to say is “Get over it,” but I’m way too nice to do that.)

For one, who’s to say how much -- or little -- makeup he wears? Why does it have to be explained? Do you want to see a pre-Joker fall into chemicals…AGAIN?! Does he really need to say to Batman, “To them, you’re just a freak, LIKE ME…because I once fell into a vat of chemicals during one of my heists and came out with white skin, green hair, and red lips.”

Please.

How can one argue that they dislike this Joker's aesthetic because Nolan’s "breaking cannon," yet adore how some of the characters from the previous series were portrayed? Let’s see, we have seen...

* A Catwoman who was pushed off a skyscrapper and died -- yet was brought back to life by magical, face-licking cats!

* A Joker with a name and occupation -- Jack Napier/mobster -- who was also the murderer of Thomas and Martha Wayne.

* A Penguin who was a deformed freak -- abandoned by his parents and raised briefly by actual penguins in Gotham’s sewers before joining the circus. His "gang" was made up of bizarre circus people and missle toting, ahem, penguins. Oh yeah, he gobbled down raw fish and spewed black goo from his mouth.

* A Bruce Wayne who was short, had a receding hairline, and was physically slight.

* A Batman who didn’t begin his career until he had reached his mid to late 30s.

* A Dick Grayson who becomes Robin as his teens are ending, as opposed to beginning.

That’s not a knock on any previous Bat-director (OK, maybe it is a little) -- I’m just pointing out facts. All directors that are adapting a comic book, novel, cartoon, or whatever, make changes to suit the film and their own version of the material.

If the Joker being “perma-white” is the issue -- perhaps for some it's essential to the Batman mythos and it defines the character -- and one considers Mr. Nolan to be breaking from cannon, I submit to you the following:

* For the first eleven years in the comics, The Joker was never once explained -- until DETECTIVE COMICS #168 (February 1951). Thus, for a little over a decade, The Joker simply “Was” -- no origin and no explanation for his look or motives. He was an absolute from the moment he made his debut in BATMAN #1 in 1940.

* In THE DARK KNIGHT, it’s believed that The Joker (Heath Ledger) is never once explained. Therefore, The Joker in the movie simply “Is” -- no origin and no explanation for his looks or motives. Director Chris Nolan says that his version of the character is an “absolute” and the movie depicts the “Rise of,” as opposed to the “Origin of The Joker.”

Personally, I believe that the dissenters of this new live-action movie Joker are assuming way too much based on very little -- and controlled -- information and jumping to conclusions.

Also, these folks had a particular vision of this great character in their head (as do we all) and the way he physically looks doesn’t mesh with their own vision. Some of us may be a little more open to aesthetic interpretation, some of us are not. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Aesthetics is one thing, but performance along with capturing the heart and soul of the character is another.

Nonetheless, people who are still saying things like “This isn’t The Joker” and/or insinuating that Nolan’s “bastardizing” and not being “loyal” to the character based on look alone are now looking a tad silly.

To them, I say, "Have you seen the PROLOGUE and trailer?!" It’s as if a few individuals are going to dislike Nolan’s Joker no matter how good Heath is in the role.

That's a shame and too bad for them I say.

If the reason is because it's just not their cup of tea, then fine -- to each his own. But if it's due to some so-called "loyalty" to previous live-action incarnations of The Joker -- and/or the artists that brought them to life -- they need to let that go.

At the very least, this contingent of fans should at least wait until after they see THE DARK KNIGHT before continuing with such proclamations.

So people want The Joker to look as if he literally leaped out of a comic book onto the big screen, eh? I don’t know, I’d rather this:


Heath Ledger as "The Joker" in THE DARK KNIGHT (© Warner Bros. Pictures)

As opposed to these dudes:


"The Joker" from: OnStar Batman Commercials,
BATMAN: DEAD END, and PATIENT J

I think I like the guy found in that first set up pictures.

If digging this lip smacking, makeup wearing, purple adorned, bazooka shooting, knife wielding, anarchist Joker who just "Is" is wrong, I don't care if I'm not right.

"Jett" is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of BATMAN ON FILM."

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