Comic Fodder

Joke(r)s on Ledger

It's official, Warner Bros. sent out the following press release announcing Heath Ledger will be playing the Joker in the upcoming sequel to "Batman Begins," to be directed by Christopher Nolan from a script by his brother Jonathan Nolan.

The ending to "Batman Begins" (SPOILERS) made it clear that the Joker would be the next villain to face the newly interpreted Batman but for the past year and a half there has been much speculation over who would get that role. Everyone from Robin Williams to Freddie Prinze Jr. was rumored to nab the role of the Clown Prince of Crime in the follow-up to the 2005 film. Jack Nicholson, who played the Joker in Tim Burton's "Batman" movie, was even rumored to possible wear the white face paint again but in the end the most unlikely candidate of all won the role, Ledger.

Personally, I think Ledger will make a great Joker; he'll be able to pull off the psychosis and mania that are such crucial parts of the Joker's persona. He also brings less baggage to the role than Nicholson did because, unlike Nicholson, Heath doesn't have an off screen persona he needs to maintain. Ledger will be able to lose himself in this role and become the sadistic, murderous clown that Batman fans have clamored to see on the big screen since Jim Gordon handed Batman that tell-tale playing card in the final few moments of "Batman Begins."

The official press release from Warner Bros. is below taken from the originating article found on CBR and linked above.

Official Press Release

BURBANK, CA, 31 July 2006 - As a follow up to last year's blockbuster Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan is set to direct Warner Bros. Pictures' The Dark Knight, written by Jonathan Nolan, based on a story by Christopher Nolan and David Goyer. The film will be produced by Emma Thomas, Charles Roven and Christopher Nolan. Additionally, Christian Bale will resume his role as Bruce Wayne and Academy Award nominee Heath Ledger has been cast as The Joker. The announcements were made today by Jeff Robinov, President of Production, Warner Bros. Pictures.

Christopher Nolan revamped the Batman franchise in 2005 with the immensely successful Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale in the title role, which chronicled the early years of the superhero. Nolan first garnered attention from critics and fans in 2000 with the groundbreaking drama Memento, which he wrote and directed. He went on to direct the thriller Insomnia, starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams, and recently wrapped production on The Prestige, with Hugh Jackman and Bale.

Bale was most recently seen in the ensemble cast of Terrence Malick's The New World. His other credits include Little Women, Portrait of a Lady, Metroland, American Psycho, Laurel Canyon and Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun, which was his first starring role.

Ledger most recently earned Oscar Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG Award nominations and won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Ennis Del Mar in the award-winning drama Brokeback Mountain. His other credits include Casanova, Monster's Ball, Lords of Dogtown, The Brothers Grimm and The Patriot.

"Chris' unique vision is what made Batman Begins such an outstanding film and we could not imagine anyone else at the helm of The Dark Knight," said Robinov. "We also can't wait to see two such formidable actors as Christian and Heath face off with each other as Batman and The Joker."

"I'm excited to continue the story we started with Batman Begins," added Nolan. "Our challenge in casting The Joker was to find an actor who is not just extraordinarily talented but fearless. Watching Heath Ledger's interpretation of this iconic character taking on Christian Bale's Batman is going to be incredible."

Production is set to begin on "The Dark Knight" in early 2007.

Nolan and Ledger are represented by CAA.

i loved jack as the joker, but if they get this right it will be fantastic. kudos to warner bros

-- Posted by: Laura at August 1, 2006 12:05 PM

I totally agree with Laura. Nicholson is the king, but what a great -- and surprising -- selection Heath Ledger is. I think he will do a great job.

-- Posted by: Rachel at August 3, 2006 11:08 PM