This is late in coming, but not because it was unimportant. Above is the first photo that was released of The Joker from The Dark Knight, a movie that I, along with many others, have been awaiting for a long while. When this came out, many of us shuddered at the image. Now, the Joker’s “smile” appears to have very violent origins, with something worse than normal scars remaining. This is obviously different from the old Cesar Romero from the show or Nicholson from the first movie. Chris Nolan, who took over the Batman franchise with remarkable competence, chose a serious actor to accompany his serious filmmaking. 10 Things I Hate About You and A Knight’s Tale notwithstanding, Mr. Ledger clearly knew what he was doing in later roles.
Now, he’s gone, and he’ll mostly be remembered for two roles: a gay cowboy and The Joker. There’s really nothing more to say about this. It’s just unspeakably sad. The Dark Knight has had one of the most elaborate viral marketing campaigns a film has ever gotten. The rejuvenation of this franchise was supposedly to focus less on the villains and more on the Bat-man. While that worked for Batman Begins, it’s been evident since this first photo came out that The Joker would steal the show. There was no stopping it. Now, as if cruelly to ensure that he steals the show, this character, arguably the most famous fictional villain of the 20th century, is being played with an unprecedented streak of pure evil by a dead man. Prepare for swarms of reviews this summer that read more like obituaries.