I’ve waffled on running the latest bit of Dark Knight rumor today, but there’s no reason not to offer the news for your consideration.

(If you’re not keen on spoilers, skip the next paragraph and just understand that some bit of Ledger footage might be trimmed.)

The short form is that Cinema Blend has word that The Dark Knight is being test-screened (no surprise) and that at least one audience reacted poorly to a shot of Heath Ledger’s Joker. The bit in question has the Joker, pretending to be dead, pictured in a body bag. I suppose I can see why some might not take well to the image, and Cinema Blend reports that WB is mulling a cut. We don’t know how much of the scene would go, if indeed it is cut at all.

The obvious question is whether this represents the studio being over-sensitive. Even if trimmed now, the expectation is that the shot/scene would be reinstated for DVD at some point down the line. But if that’s the case, how is showing the image in nine months any more respectful than showing it in July? Ledger did his work in good faith and by all accounts he did it very, very well. The coincidence between on-screen appearance and off-screen reality is unfortunate, but attempting to sanitize the end product won’t do anyone favors.

I’ve also got to take Cinema Blend to task for sensationalizing their coverage; though the article suggests that a shot or two might be cut, the headline specifies ‘Joker Scenes’. If accurate it’s a fine story, and there’s no reason to suggest that WB might perform an amputation rather than an appendectomy. The latter would be offensive enough.