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


The "Look" of TDK Joker

Author: Bill Ramey, Founder of BOF
Posted: Sunday, May 13, 2007

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article contains info that some may consider SPOILERS. Do not read if you are avoiding them. - "Jett"

“What will Heath Ledger’s Joker look like?”

This has got to be the biggest question floating through Batman fandom today. Accordingly, fans are demanding the release of a picture of The Joker from THE DARK KNIGHT to satisfy their desire. (Hopefully, Warner Bros. and Mr. Nolan will not cave in to those damn pleas. IMO, they should hold off a bit longer before issuing a publicity shot of Heath in full costume for all to see -- but that’s an issue I already tackled in a previous op-ed.)

Today, I’m here to address the question at hand: “What will Heath Ledger’s Joker look like?”

Using all information available -- spy pics from Chicago, “The Sides,” reports from insiders, and miscellaneous bits of info that has appeared online, I’ll try to paint of picture of what The Joker may look like in THE DARK KNIGHT.

The first thing that must be stated is that Chris Nolan and company are going to do something different with the character in TDK. Looks-wise, don’t expect anything like we’ve seen before in a live-action film. So forget anything resembling Cesar Romero (BATMAN ’66) or Jack Nicholson (BATMAN ‘89). With that said, I do expect 2 things to stay consistent with past cinematic interpretations and the comic books: The Joker’s white skin and green hair.

Don't expect to see anything like these guys again

From the spy pics taken in Chicago last month (April, 2007), Heath Ledger clearly had green hair during part of the filming. But it was a different kind of green -- almost like a bad dye job -- with Ledger’s natural brownish color mixed in with the green. Could this version of The Joker actually dye his hair green? Or perhaps, the dye was brown trying to hide the green? One cannot dismiss these possibilities.

Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart, February 2007

As far as the style of The Joker’s hair, Ledger has let his hair grow out to a certain degree. Shots of him with Aaron Eckhart (who is playing Harvey Dent in TDK) prior to filming seem to indicate that The Joker will have a long, wavy, combed-back, “mullet-ish” ‘do. Ledger’s natural receding hairline is similar to the one the comic book Joker often displays.

When it comes to The Joker’s white skin, I don’t think he’s going to be chalk white. There has been rumors indicating a “grayish” color to his skin as well as his epidermis being “albino-like.” To me, this indicates that Ledger’s Joker will be very, very pale -- sort of “off white,” if you will. Both Nicholson and Romero looked as if they had white makeup on their face; and frankly, it looked fake. Of course it was fake, but it wasn't meant to look that way. (I trust Heath shaved off that goatee he's sporting in that pic above, or they'll have to do the 'ol Cesar Romero makeup job on it!) I seriously doubt that Ledger will look as if white greasepaint is smeared all over his grill. Remember, Mr. Nolan has a “realistic” take on the world of Batman, so his Joker’s white skin will look as authentic as possible.

So here’s the big question: Does “authentic white skin” mean that The Joker character literally wears makeup to look the way he does? That’s a reasonable question as there have been pictures and reports from the April Chicago shoot indicating that Ledger did not have the white face on. Additionally, several scoopers told BOF that when Heath was in makeup, the white clearly didn’t extend down his neck. What does this suggest to me? Well, I think that The Joker’s skin is indeed “white-ish,” but he tries to conceal that fact by applying flesh colored makeup to his exposed areas.

All of you people tripping out thinking that The Joker looks like "The Joker" because he wears clown makeup can relax, I do believe.

There has been talk of “scarring” on The Joker’s face. I’m going to take that as having something to do with his smile. We’ve heard talk of a “cut smile,” ala the Joker drawing Lee Bermejo did for BATMAN ON FILM last year. There’s also been whispers that The Batman inadvertently injures The Joker causing some sort of disfigurement. Combing all available info, it seems to me that TDK Joker will have some sort of a scar -- perhaps from cheekbone to cheekbone -- that gives the appearance of an extended smile. With that said, I don’t think we’re getting a “permasmile,” ala Mr. Nicholson’s Joker in BATMAN.

"The Joker" by Lee Bermejo

What of The Joker’s threads? Well, we know that at some point in TDK, he wears a very basic outfit consisting of workpants, button-down blue shirt, and dark jacket.

Not very “Joker-ish,” right?

I highly doubt that the Heath-Joker sports that ensemble throughout the film. At some point, probably by the third act of TDK, the Heath-Joker will wear a costume that resembles The Joker’s look in the comics. And resembles is the key word here -- don’t expect to see a literal translation of The Jokers comic book gear. Is it going to be purple? I’d say bet on it.

Green hair that looks like a bad dye job. Off-white/grayish skin. A scar that gives the look of an extended smile. Sounds like we’re in store for something different and fresh with The Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT.

But really y'all, did you expect Nolan to give us the expected?

While Nolan's version of The Joker will not please everyone (like that's possible anyway), I wholeheartedly doubt that the director will go so far away from the core mythos of the character, that he'll be unrecognizable.

When it’s all said and done, and the final credits start to roll at the end of THE DARK KNIGHT, I don't doubt the fact that we'll all be thinking, “Now THAT was The Joker!”

UPDATED (5/20/07): Well, what do you think?

I think I pretty much nailed it! ;)

"Jett" is the founder and editor-in-chief of BATMAN-ON-FILM.COM,

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