WARNING – I fully realize the following blog is self-indulgent and unbelievably nerd-like. However, when considering the fate of Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, I get a little bit D&D. That being said, if you’re going to be the guy that leaves talkback telling me how lame or assuming I am don’t waste your breath – I’m well aware. If it bugs you, DON’T FUCKING READ IT. That being said, those who love conversations about what could be, read on…
I’ve got to go here. Sorry in advance for what could be construed as re-hashing.
After finally purchasing and re-watching The Dark Knight I have a few things to say.
None of the issues I had from the first viewing carried over. Batman’s voice didn’t bother me, Morgan Freeman didn’t bother me, etc. I’m left assuming that the two reasons I had any issues at all about this flick to begin with were 1) Great movie, amazing performances especially by Ledger but now ‘so what?’ is all we can say, since he’s unfortunately dead and cannot take the role of being the ‘Yang’ to Batman’s ‘Ying’ any further, and 2) The hype factor, ’nuff said. Now I’d like to move forward and for expressly narcissistic reasons map out how the series could continue without a major factor* in it.
The Joker cannot go away. If Rachael was the only person who could complete Bruce Wayne then her death shattered him and left only Batman, whose person-of-completion is not a pretty, idealistic lawyer, but a savage, raving madman – The Joker. But how, with the magnificent actor who portrayed this character dead can Nolan and crew use the character without risking screwing up the tone and character of this franchise?
Now, before everyone says how terrible this is, let me continue for a moment. Yes, to re-cast the joker would be spitting in Ledger’s face, IF it was simply a case of finding a similar looking actor and saying, ‘here, study this and then re-create it best you can.’ I assure you, that is most definitely NOT what I am suggesting here.
First, we need distance. For the third movie, if I were Nolan I would use whatever footage we’ve now all heard the rumors still exist of Ledger. The last time we see the Joker in D.K. he is left hanging upside down by The Batman -no closure. I’m wagering that something, most likely a scene where the raving clown prince is committed to Arkham Asylum was cut from the film after Heath Ledger’s untimely demise. I think it is a safe bet that whatever footage is still out there, it will probably play into #3** like a Hannibal Lecter scene – ol’ Batty visiting Joker in A.A. to find out what other insanity he may have left the city and it’s denizens booby-trapped with. If there really is footage, there’s most likely not enough to do a whole movie around. However, this hiatus for the character would be good for the plan – the third one is most definitely going to play up the Batman as the bad guy angle we’re left with at the end of two. The thing that I most worry about is the introduction of new villains – this franchise cannot become a bad-guy-a-flick showboater like the previous franchise. You know, where they introduce a couple more bad guys, have big names play them teaming up against the Caped Crusader. So far Nolan’s movies are just too good. And really, Bat’s rogue gallery is pretty lame in a lot of ways – chock full of a lot of stuff that would either never fly on screen or would have to be made ‘darker’, like putting the riddler in an all black suit. That black-suit-equals-darker-vision thing going to get old real fast and I’d hate to see Nolan’s arc get dragged down by having the solution to making more realistic bad guys simply to leather-ize them.
Any way you cut it though there’s going to have to be some bad guys in III and I’d say the best solution would be to have a shitload of them – do something like that Knightfall storyline back in the 90’s – have tons of bad guys taking advantage of Batman’s criminal standing and Harvey Dent’s death by tearing the city apart. This would be fantastic and would downplay any new villains introduced, paving the way for a fourth and possibly final film where the Joker does return.
Remanded to Arkham and some of the questionable scientific minds that no doubt dwell in such a place Clowny could resurface changed by an interim of electro shock, hardcore experimental drugs and/or procedures and possibly even torture. I’m thinking here of something like the incarnation either Frank Miller’s version from Dark Knight Returns or even the version Grant Morrison recently used in the R.I.P. – streamlined and less human. This would be possible with an actor of similar build, and would eliminate the need to have him try to walk on Ledger’s brilliant shoes – play the character different by all means, almost a totally new take. No harm there and no disrespect. Shit, if Gilliam can have Depp and whoever else step in to finish Ledger’s role in his upcoming movie, this would be pretty similar and a way to not have to extinguish the flame I believe Nolan meant to have burn in Batman’s brain for the rest of the series.
As two opposite forces of nature, Nolan’s Batman and Joker complete one another.
Okay, nerd discourse over. It’s just been a long time since I gave a fuck about the Batman character – Nolan is the first person since the 80’s whose done anything with him I feel is worthwhile.
* There is no doubt in my mind that The Joker was intended to stay in the series. A friend recently pointed out that one of the major themes of Dark Knight is cause and effect (i.e. Bruce Wayne’s folks are killed, he becomes Batman. He becomes Batman and Batman-worthy criminals appear.
** If there is one.
*** This is another thing that seems to be a trend in Hollywood and a
little goes a long way. I mean, Batman looks great, and don’t get me
wrong, I’m really looking forward to Watchmen, but does anyone else
flinch a little when they see how Night Owl looks kinda like they
didn’t really try to hard, just stuck that good old black leather on