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


Heath-Joker "Hate" Getting A Tad Silly: Follow-Up Mailbag
Author: Jett
Sunday, December 30, 2007

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since many of the emails received featured repetitive questions/opinions, no names were included in this BOF MAILBAG. The author took the eight most commonly emailed questions/comments and paraphrased them for this article.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: 90% + of the feedback I get about the "look" of The Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT is positive. You can probably kick it up 5 percentage points once you throw in what's been released of Heath's performance. - "Jett"

Well, well, well. It seems that that little ‘ol OP-ED I wrote earlier in the week got people fired up a tad, and I got a ton of email in response. So, I thought I’d take ten most common questions/comments and answer them “BOF Mailbag Style.” Here goes...

1. “Jett, I agree with everything you said in that Heath-Joker article.”

JETT SAYS: Thank you, you are very smart and are now my favorite BOF‘er!

2. “I’m still not thrilled with the ‘look’ of the TDK Joker,” and like you, I said ’WTF?!’ when I heard that Heath Ledger had been cast. But any and all doubts that Nolan and Ledger wouldn’t deliver ‘The Joker’ evaporated after I saw the PROLOGUE and that trailer.”

JETT SAYS: That’s what I’ve been saying -- it’s not about The Joker’s damn “look” -- which I’m quite fond of by the way, but that‘s beside the point. It’s about capturing the heart, spirit, and essence of this great character. As I’ve said ad nauseam for months now: based on everything I’ve seen and heard, on and off the record (sorry, no details), Heath has delivered a very special performance. Furthermore, Mr. Nolan is going to give us “The Joker,” so relax.

3. “Don’t you think your being hypocritical with your support of Nolan’s version of The Joker? How are you OK with the changes he’s made to the character, but hammer (Tim) Burton and BATMAN RETURNS every chance you get? What’s the difference between Nolan’s Joker and Burton’s Penguin?”

JETT SAYS: You’re making this too easy you know.

I never had a real problem with how The Penguin looked in RETURNS. It’s probably not what I would have done, but I certainly didn’t freak out over it.

The issue is that Burton created an entire backstory and origin for The Penguin that had absolutely NOTHING to do with the Batman mythos. Yes, Burton -- or any director for that matter -- should have creative freedom when adapting a comic book and comic book characters to film, OK?

With that said, it was his absolutely ridiculous backstory and origin that he gave Cobblepott that I had a problem with -- not his “aesthetic.”

A deformed freak who is abandoned by his parents, raised by -- get this -- actual penguins in Gotham’s sewers. He then joins a circus, but later builds this huge sewer-lair under the city. He commands an army of penguins and a runs a gang that consists of his ex-circus freakshow mates.

And don’t even get me started on the black goo and his Gotham mayoral run.

With Nolan’s Joker, he may have altered his “look” to some people‘s disdain, but his version of the character IS based on and IS loyal to the comics.

4. “Jett, I don’t like the look of The Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT, but I’m willing to give it a chance. I’m reserving final judgment until I see the film. So, why jump all over my ass in that OP-ED?”

JETT SAYS: I’m not "jumping all over your ass" just because you don’t like the way Nolan and company went with the appearance of The Joker. I 100% get that many fans just don’t like it. That’s not whom I have a problem with.

But these folks that email in or post in forums that Nolan has screwed the Batman fans is flat-out absurd! On top of that, Nolan hasn’t “bastardized” The Joker, nor has he disregarded the Batman mythos and 67 years of Joker history. That’s just flat-out not true.

Once more, it looks as if it boils down to the whole “perma-white/chemical bath” issue. To some, it’s part of what defines the character. For others, like me, it doesn’t. For this latter group, The Joker is defined by his actions and his characterization. I’m not saying that those who fall in the former group are wrong, but they certainly seem to be having a hard time getting past the TDK Joker’s “aesthetic.”

5. “I read your article on ‘Heath-Joker Hate.’ What are you, Nolan’s apologist or something?”

JETT SAYS: First of all, what the hell does Nolan have to apologize for? Certainly not BATMAN BEGINS -- give me a break! THE DARK KNIGHT? Why should he have to say that he’s sorry about anything from a film that he’s yet to complete and no one has seen?


6. “Nolan’s Joker wears makeup. The Joker should be perma-white. That’s just wrong.”

JETT SAYS: First of all, how do you know that he isn’t “perma-white” in TDK?

You don’t.

How do you know how much or how little makeup The Joker actually wears?

You don’t.

Don’t you know that Nolan has said that has said that TDK isn’t about the origin of The Joker? He’s an “absolute” in the film and there’s no explanation of how and why he looks the way he does.

I guess you don’t.

In short, he just “Is.” You, me, or anyone else can interpret The Joker anyway they want.

7. “Preach on brother! You nailed it in your “Heath-Joker Hate” article. Too bad for the people who don’t like it.”

JETT SAYS: Amen bro.

As a Batman fan, I want ALL of us to be happy with TDK Joker and be able to enjoy this film. But I’m pretty sure that’s going to be flat out impossible. There’s going to be a contingent of fans -- and they’re certainly a minority -- that’s not going to like it and will complain and "Nolan should've done this" analyze ‘til the cows come home.

8. “After reading your latest article, you’ve lost all credibility with me. You’re nothing but a mouthpiece for Nolan. Are you on WB’s payroll?”

JETT SAYS: How am I “Nolan’s Mouthpiece?” Because I happen to quite like his cinematic interpretation of Batman?

When I started BOF ten years ago, I campaigned hard for a good Batman film -- one that was, you know, actually about Batman. And for me personally, Nolan delivered that in 2005 with BATMAN BEGINS -- in my opinion, the best Batman film by far. So yeah, I have a tremendous amount of respect and trust for Nolan when it comes to Batman on film.

If that means I’m a “Nolanite,” a “Nolan apologist,” or “Nolan’s mouthpiece,” then so be it.

Until Mr. Nolan disappoints me (which I don't think he will), I'll be wearing any and all of those monikers proudly.

One question though, if I'm on the Warner Bros. payroll, I'm guessing mail from Burbank to Texas is really, really slow. Haven't they heard of direct deposit? ;)

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

© 1998-present BATMAN ON FILM and William E. Ramey. All rights reserved.
Material from BOF may not be reprinted without permission.
"BATMAN" artwork © DC COMICS.