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

TDK: What We Know So Far?
Part 2: The Joker

Author: Jett
Thursday, December 20, 2007 - 9:36 AM CENTRAL

Hell, I was a total HEATH-JOKER SKEPTIC at first. But wise men say, only fools rush in...

Comic book artist extraordinaire Lee Bermejo ONCE TOLD ME the following defines The Joker:

“He has white skin…
He has red lips…
He has green hair…
He tells jokes that are not funny…
He wears purple...
And, he kills people.”

Pretty much rings true, doesn't it?

Based on what we know from the "PROLOGUE," the trailer, and last summer's shoot in Chicago, let’s discuss The Harlequin of Hate as envisioned by director Chris Nolan and personified by actor Heath Ledger in THE DARK KNIGHT.


The biggest mystery surrounding TDK‘s version of The Joker since the moment it was announced that Heath Ledger has been cast in the role was what would The Joker look like?

While the first image of Ledger in makeup as the Ace of Knaves was released Summer 2007, it took literally half a year for fans to get a complete look of The Joker in all his glory.

What should we make of Chris Nolan’s version of The Joker now that he’s been revealed in full? Does the plot involve The Joker wearing makeup? Yes, that’s been made clear. Does that mean that they’ve broke from canon and decided that he wouldn’t be “perma-white?”

Maybe, maybe not.

It’s clear that Nolan wants us all to know that The Joker wears makeup. To get that point across, virtually every single picture that has been released of Ledger as the character has him looking different.

For example, in the very first image released last summer, his makeup was virtually pristine. The white covered his face evenly; the black around his eyes was perfectly circular; and fresh, red lipstick ran from check to check across his mouth.

In other pictures, The Heath-Joker looked thoroughly disheveled -- his makeup was spotty and ran down his face and neck.

What’s the deal here? Is TDK Joker’s look a result of a chemical bath or is it something that he does to himself with greasepaint and hair dye? Or could it be…


Just maybe it is never explained why The Joker looks the way he does? You know, he just "IS."

Nolan is on the record saying that The Joker in the film is “an absolute.” Therefore, I say that the audience will never learn whether or not this Joker’s white and green is “au naturel,” or a result of a visit to the cosmetic counter at one of Gotham’s major department stores.


Unlike BATMAN ‘89, and even though it his first appearance in this new series of Bat-films, I’m willing to bet that we do not see how The Joker came to be in TDK.

He doesn’t like to give away much, but director Chris Nolan has stated that TDK is about “The Rise of The Joker,” rather than “The Origin of The Joker.” Remember, he’s “an absolute;” this indicates to me that The Joker is “The Joker” from the moment the film begins ’til it ends. No explanation for the how and the why of his look. He just “IS,” you know what I’m sayin’?

Isn’t better that way anyway?


Though I’m borrowing a line from Jack Nicholson’s version of The Joker from BATMAN ‘89, it’s apparent that The Clown Prince of Crime in TDK plans to do the same -- albeit in a much more violent and sadistic way.

Both Nolan and Ledger have said that The Joker is a “pure anarchist;” and I’m sure the type of anarchy that he is interested in has nothing to do with politics. The Joker -- plain and simple -- wants to muck Gotham up and muck it up as much as he possibly can.

The question is, what’s his preferred mode of destruction?

From watching the trailer, he obviously like to blow stuff up, shoot guns and bazookas, and has an affinity for knives.

Yet, The Joker has a “taste for the theatrical,” remember? Consequently, I expect him to carry out his crimes with a little flair.

Since Nolan has said on several occasions that he was influenced quite a bit by The Joker’s first two appearances in BATMAN #1 (1940), I say The Joker’s real intention is to spreads chaos another way: He takes out the leaders of Gotham and announces it before he actually does it.

Since it’s not 1940, I’d imagine that The Joker uses another form of media other than the radio to broadcast his next murder or act of terrorism on Gotham. Most likely TV, don’t you think?

“A taste for the theatrical” indeed.


Like The Joker with Batman, perhaps Mr. Nolan is playing a game with us all.

We all think The Joker is one thing based on a few pictures, the viral marketing, and one trailer -- hell, this article is a good example of that. Could it be that we’re being set up for something that is completely unexpected based on the information available?

Nolan likes twists, so one can assume that there could well be a “Ducard is the real Ra’s” moment in TDK and it certainly could involve The Joker. Or maybe we expect a twist that involves Mr. J and it doesn't happen -- no twist is the twist?

Regardless, I truly believe that we are in store for something special here with The Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT.

The Joker’s voice, his body language, the maniacal laugh, his violent and anarchistic actions -- all of it courtesy Heath Ledger’s performance -- scream “The Joker” to me.

Ledger spent six weeks locked in a hotel room in London "Jokerizing" himself. He figured that The Joker would think AIDS is funny.

This dude gets it.

Is the team of Nolan and Ledger going to deliver the definitive cinematic portrayal of this iconic character to date?

Better than Romero?

Even topping Nicholson?

Quite possibly.


“He has white skin…
He has red lips…
He has green hair…
He tells jokes that are not funny…
He wears purple...
And, he kills people.”

Will all of that ring true with The Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT?

All will be answered come July 2008.

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


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