Fri
Feb 4 2011 4:36pm
Big Screen Batman: The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

One thing that is terribly frustrating as a critic, trying to be objective about the merits of a given work of art, is that an outside circumstance with no direct connection to the work itself can develop an intextricable relationship with that work. So it is with The Dark Knight and the death of Heath Ledger during post-production.

Ledger’s performance as the Joker, which only the people who worked on the movie had seen before he died, is astonishing, and deeply disturbing when seen posthumously. It’s as if a layer of protection usually in place to keep the true darkness of the human mind hidden was peeled back, and we were given a glimpse of what it means to be truly destructive, and evil. We’re told nothing verifiably true about him, left either to speculate, or to accept him as a symbol, a wild card, something for which it is impossible to plan. The question has been asked countless times, but never answered: would Ledger’s performance be as affecting had he survived to laugh it off on a late-night talk show, if he and his wife had walked the red carpet at the premiere?

We will of course never know, and in any case, as Ledger’s untimely fate is inextricably intertwined with the movie itself, we are left to evaluate The Dark Knight in the only way we can, as a movie of uncommon boldness and ambition, an unrelentingly grim epic whose theme is that if a man lives long enough, he will live to see himself become a villain (whether or not this is true of women as well is not addressed, The Dark Knight is a very male movie). It’s a measure of the skill that aids the ambition that in spite of Heath Ledger’s extraordinary, haunting Joker, equal focus is given Batman (the returning Christian Bale), and to “white knight” Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).

The story of The Dark Knight is how, in a power vacuum in Gotham’s underworld created by District Attorney Dent locking up just about every gangster in the city, the anarchist Joker assumes control and systematically destroys the lives of as many people as he can before Batman kills him (if he indeed does; it’s ambiguous enough in the movie that if Ledger had not died in real life, the Joker could have returned in the sequel without a terribly straining suspension of disbelief). By the end of the movie, Harvey Dent has become the embittered, capricious, disfigured Two-Face and died, and Batman is forced to flee in disgrace, Gotham’s Public Enemy Number One.

Christopher Nolan’s unease with the action scenes is completely gone in The Dark Knight. His technique is near-perfectly assured; the qualification is only necessary that due to the amazing skill Nolan displays at creating and building drama that there are numerous dramatic peaks from which the momentum of the movie has difficulty recovering. In the wrong mood, these can derail the movie, but in every instance, Nolan is able to regain control over the tale, and deliver yet another stunning dramatic blow.

As gloomy a resolution as Batman’s public disgrace and enforced exile is, it is still a necessary layer to the character and his interaction with the world at large. Batman (and particularly Nolan’s Batman) is a character driven by dark impulses, who could just as easily be a villain as a hero. The Joker and Harvey Dent represent two alternate paths, the ultimate evil and the ultimate symbol of pure good, respectively. Nolan has Batman take the middle path, one fraught with moral ambiguity (Batman only foils one of the Joker’s terrorist plots by invading the privacy of every citizen in Gotham by hacking their cell phones) and destined to have at best mercurial popularity. Nolan’s Batman is not a strictly canonical one, and is largely Nolan’s own invention, but in spirit very true to what Batman has fundamentally been throughout his history as a character.

Christian Bale, by default, gives the best performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman. It’s not perfect, by any means—his bizarre, gravelly growl as Batman is both inexplicable and extremely hard to listen to—but his Bruce Wayne is by far the best yet captured on screen. Aaron Eckhart, before descending into a borderline-conventional bit of hammy villainy as Two-Face, does spectacularly well as Harvey Dent, convincing even the most hardened cynics of his absolute goodness; that every goodness is what compels the Joker to destroy him, as an absolute evil.

Heath Ledger’s Joker, posthumous legend or not, is still one of the most intense, disturbing characters ever seen in a movie. Unlike any of the Jokers who came before, who leaned with varying degrees of heaviness on the “joke” part of the name, Ledger’s is a clown the likes of which causes the phobia. He is never seen without his makeup, and as evil as he is, that makeup is almost a layer of ironic distance from the truly unmentionable evil beneath. Whatever laughter he causes is wary, nervous. It’s a very dark joke indeed that Ledger’s Joker is never explicitly seen to be dead, as the fear he represents is something one can never really escape; movies claim to banish that kind of evil, but they never can. It’s always there.

And so here we are, as Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, et al are preparing the latest installment, The Dark Knight Rises. They have quite the act to follow in the critically acclaimed (and billion-dollar-grossing) The Dark Knight. Batman, after a series of fits and starts as a cinematic character, is finally a figure in proportionate stature to the silver screen as he has been to the comic book panel for so many years. We the audience, like Gotham City so often, await his return.


Danny Bowes is a playwright, filmmaker and blogger. He is also a contributor to nytheatre.com and Premiere.com.

33 comments
Brandon Daggerhart
1. BDaggerhart
Technically, we see Joker without his make-up in the scene where he attempts to shoot the mayor at the commissioners funeral.

That being said, I've really enjoyed your blogs. I disagree that Christian Bale played a better Bruce Wayne in this movie than in Batman Begins - I feel he was the perfect Wayne in the first movie - playboy and fake-drunk in particular. However, I feel you've been pretty much spot-on with the rest of your reviews (minus the fact that I like Michael Keaton as Batman/Wayne and don't feel he was horribly overshadowed by the villains of his movies).
Dank4
2. Dank4
Actually, I'm pretty sure that the Joker is unambiguously alive at the end of the movie.
Scott Harris
3. vitruvian
Yeah, that ending is not ambiguous at all. Joker is daring, nay, demanding that Batman kill him in accordance with the Joker's own views on the inhumanity of man, and Batman refuses. There is no sense whatsoever that he's going to go ahead and kill him in cold blood after the movie fades to black. The Nolan Batman is much like the early 40s Batman, in that while he won't shed tears if a bad guy manages to kill himself off (as R'as al Ghul appears to in Begins) and might even use vehicular machine guns in the heat of battle, he'll never kill in cold blood.
Cyphon
4. Cyphon
the anarchist Joker assumes control and systematically destroys the lives of as many people as he can





I really wish people wouldn't just nod their head at this label. The Joker is not an Anarchist. While he fits the definition that certain groups of people would like you to think entails an Anarchist, he isn't.
Dank4
5. Edgewalker
Yeah, the Joker lived. Even Nolan said he was going to bring him back in the 3rd movie.
Fake Name
6. ThePendragon
Yeah, between this and your Begins post, I'm thinking you either rushed these out at the last minute, or you have terrible comprehension skills. Even so, the idea of Batman killing someone in cold blod is antithetical to the character. Not sure how there could be ANY ambiguity there.
Dank4
7. Hammerlock
One thing the early Batman movies did that totally missed the mark was that they had the Batman kill.

Not accidentally allow to die, but actively be a force in the death of a "Bad guy."

Nolan's Batman is a step apart from this. His incarnation will savage, rage, even torture in the heat of the moment---but he won't cross that moral event horizon. The climax to Batman Begins states that pretty explicitly.

Dark Knight takes him closer to that edge than Batman probably ever considered to go, but in the end he steps back. The Joker lives. Harvey's death /was/ an accident, and one that will probably torment this Batman in the third film. Given the relatively short fall--one that was described earlier in the film as "bone breaking but not fatal"--it was probably Harvey's physical frailty than a deliberate act.

The comics lay this out explicitly: the batman does not kill. During the early 90's storyline with the broken back, the replacement Batman isn't considered to be "off the rails" until he lets some throwaway villain die. At that point, its all shock and horror amongst the bat-allies and sets the stage for Bruce's return.
Danny Bowes
8. DannyBowes
I'm going to try and be as patient on this issue as I can: ambiguity occurs in the absence of a definitive statement one way or the other. It is a state of being with a rather large amount of gray area. The Joker is not shown alive or dead after he drops out of frame. His fate is thus ambiguous. If someone had to ask Chris Nolan about whether or not the Joker was alive at the end of the movie, the question was not answered definitively in the movie. And before we start howling about terrible comprehension skills again, let's keep in mind that a question that requires an inference about future events or consulting supporting texts is by its nature not self-evident.
Dank4
9. DontDriveAngry
"...in a power vacuum in Gotham’s underworld created by District Attorney Dent locking up just about every gangster in the city, the anarchist Joker assumes control..."

This is a minor plot point, but I just watched this and that's not exactly what happens in the movie. The crime bosses, all appear to be out of jail yet concerned about possible indictments due to a witness in police custody so they unleash (through financial support, I assume) the Joker to allow him to wreak havoc and take out Batman.

I wouldn't have mentioned this if you didn't already misstate a plot point in your post on Batman Begins.
Dank4
10. Hammerlock
I believe he's shown to still be, um, hanging around as Batman walked away. While it's certainly possible to have killed him and left the body hanging, I think the implied murder method would be to simply let him drop. That he hasn't would indicate that he's still alive.

Granted, they never said "we've taken the Joker into custody, man is his pulse and blood pressure well within normal limits!" but the heavy implication is that the Joker is still among the living.
Dank4
11. mirana
Okay a few things:
- Heath Ledger's acting in the film was amazing, completely apart from his death. Before seeing his work on it, people thought he was a horrendous choice for the role based on other type-casting. He'd done strange parts, but nothing like the darkness or crazy of Joker. For a "pretty boy" to have done that type of work is phenomenal. He would have gotten nominated for awards easily, alive or not.

- Heath Ledger and his wife had been separated for some time at his death (and lived on different sides of the country). He already had a new girlfriend. I highly doubt he would have walked the red carpet with her.

- "The Dark Knight is a very male movie"
I...what? I just...wtf?? This is where you lost me completely. Just because I have tits doesn't mean I don't love Batman, these movies, the actors, story, choreography, set design, SFX, music...? What is so penile about it? Rachel Dawes was a fairly strong female character in "Begins," before they let Harvey Dent's character take ALL of Rachel's attributes for himself. Batman also has some very strong female characters in his mythos. Every woman I know LOVES these movies. This comment of yours just comes out of left field for no reason, and is totally, completely insulting.

- Dent locks up one guy. That, Batman meddling, plus Joker, the cops AND Batman/Bruce stealing from them made the other crime bosses annoyed. That's when Joker stepped in to..."convince them" they are better off letting him play with Bats and Dent. The crime bosses are still very out-of-jail for the rest of the movie.

- Batman does not kill Joker. Leaving him tied up is not the same thing as death. You can argue with the other commentors about ambiguity, but let's go by two conventions here. #1 Batman does not kill. #2 If the Joker died, we would have one hell of a death scene. You write movies, you know a character (especially like Joker) is not dead if we don't see it. I don't think anyone who say that he was!

- I don't know if I agree that Nolan's "unease with action scenes" is "completely gone." It's definitely improved, but I'd still like to see some hand-to-hand choreography that shows skill and is not covered up by choppy, un-interesting camera jerking. I get it's Batman and him working in the dark is scarier, but that doesn't mean vomit-inducing camera work is necessary.

- "Batman is not a strictly canonical one, and is largely Nolan’s own invention" Ehhhhhhh, not so much. He definitely pulls a LOT of things from the different Bats comics over the years. "Year One," "The Long Halloween," "The Man Who Falls," and of course "The Dark Knight" among others. (It's crazy, 'cause I'm a WOMAN, but I own those! Wow!)

- Bale's Batman has a "growl" voice due to some tech that changes it. Both to hide his identity and to keep up the scary illusion. I think Kevin Conroy does it way better though, so I agree it's not perfect.

- "Ledger’s is a clown the likes of which causes the phobia" Very true and nicely summed up in this line.
Dank4
12. Anotherevilbadguy
No, he falls then batman catches the rope, leaving him hanging and secure. There is no ambiguity. Are you suggesting that he caught him for a joke and then let him fall after the black out? Are you sure you just didn't go to the toilet or something.
Fake Name
13. ThePendragon
No guys, nowhere in the movie after that scene is it EXPRESSLY STATED that the Joker is alive, so he is completely and technically right. Which of course, is what matters.
Danny Bowes
14. DannyBowes
@mirana The line about it being a "male movie" merely meant that it's a movie whose central focus is on the men. It's not a value judgment; Rachel is a strong character in this, but it's not her picture. It wasn't meant as an insult. I dearly love many movies that are "female movies" in the sense that their focus is on women. I will grant you that I could have phrased this better. No offense meant, by any means.
JS Bangs
15. jaspax
@mirana, I think you're misinterpreting Danny's comment. I didn't read him as saying "Only men have the awesome testicle power to appreciate this movie", but rather "This is a movie dominated by male characters." The former would be idiotic; the latter is indisputable.
Dave Thompson
16. DKT
Huh. I don't remember that ambiguity at the end, but this makes me want to go back and watch it again. It's been a while.

You've got to hand it to all the actors and Nolan in this one: they all shine. Ledger is obviously doing something...unholy and amazing. But Bale, Eckhart, are never overshadowed by him. And the supporting cast are aces, too.

Thanks to Danny for doing these posts. It's made me want to go back and rewatch all the Burton and Nolan movies (I think I'll pass on the Schumacher ones, though)!
Ashe Armstrong
17. AsheSaoirse
I honestly didn't watch with any mind to Ledger's death. I'd heard about it but when I went to see the movie, it was for the character. I absorbed into the movie. In my mind, quite honestly, the Joker was the hero in that film. For lack of a better word.

Ledger's performance was utterly perfect and brilliant and everything you could want in the Joker. His death, in regards to his performance and the movie itself, is completely irrelevant, save that he cannot return for a repeat performance.
Dank4
18. Tim Byrd
There's nothing remotely ambiguous about the Joker's fate. Batman leaves him there, swinging upside down, laughing, then the SWAT guys find him.
Emmet O'Brien
19. EmmetAOBrien
an unrelentingly grim epic whose theme is that if a man lives long enough, he will live to see himself become a villain

I'd certainly disagree with this one; one of the things I like best about this movie is how clearly it establishes Batman's victory condition as making a world that no longer needs Batman, which is pretty hopeful; I also think the Plain People of Gotham failing to meet the Joker's relentlessly downbeat take on humanity in the two boats sequence at the end but rising above the situation is about as hopeful as it's possible to make a superhero movie be about humanity in general.

This Joker totally is not an anarchist; just willing to claim to be one when it serves his purposes. It's hard for me to grasp how anyone watching this can take his fast-talk about chaos as more significant than the way he out-organises and out-manipulates his way through the movie. Watch what he does, not what he says.

What makes The Dark Knight great is the questions it puts front and centre about the superhero genre as a whole. The answers it offers at the end are not entirely satisfactory, granted; I doubt this is a failure, rather Nolan deliberately pointing up the limits of the form.
Danny Bowes
20. DannyBowes
@Tim Byrd You're right, I went back and checked. Whoops.

Yeah, so, um, that indignant lecture about the definition of ambiguity was . . . an exercise in irony! Yeah! See, I deliberately made a glaring factual error and then got snooty about it to hold myself up as an example of what not to do!

In seriousness, I apologize for the mistake, and will endeavor to make sure I properly align myself with the facts in the future.
Patti Taylor
21. sapience14
While I think within the world of the movie, Batman becomes a villain, I'm not sure that's the movie's actual message--Batman becomes more of a hero to the audience, not less, by sacrificing his reputation for Dent's. I'm fascinated by the film's obsession with scape-goats, and the way the different characters substitue for one another almost like a game of cup shuffle.

Dent first is supposed to be a substitute for Batman but then becomes a substitue for the Joker himself; Batman is of course a substitute for Wayne, but he then becomes a substitute for Dent at the end, and a scapegoat on which an entire society can pin all the blame. The final scenes in the building in which hostages and clowns become reversed, and on the ferry as the expectations about who will push the detonator are challenged, suggest that the film's moral complexity is tied into the notion of scapegoats, with the primary question the difference between the ones we create by force and the ones that offer themselves to us. The Joker counted on people taking the scapegoats offered to them by force in order to create chaos. He could not understand people offering themselves in place of others---or that doing so potentially saves everyone.
john mullen
22. johntheirishmongol
Heath Ledger's performance was amazing. I wouldn't think it was anarchy but more insanity. However, I do have to take style points away because the joker really didn't use any jokes.

Most of the other performances were quite good. I don't agree that Christian Bale was the best Batman by any means because I just don't see the star power that the role needs.

A couple of other things. Does anyone besides me hate the new batmobile? I missed a lot of the belt toys too, which are part of the mythos.
j p
23. sps49
Yeah, how could Tor have left out a post on the Batmobile?

Yes, blech. It the line of Batmobiles, from postwar sedan with Bat-cowl front, to sports car/ supercar incarnations in the 70s and 80s, to the extremely impractical and unrealistic (to me) modern movie iterations, one thing I will grant the 60s TV show is a truly excellent Batmobile.

Few can be left anywhere, though, and all are presumably trackable by helicopter, drone, Fan Man, whatever. I think a real Batman today would drive an unmarked Crown Vic with all the goodies hidden until needed.
Brandon Daggerhart
24. BDaggerhart
@Mirana - It should be worth mentioning that when you say they gave all of Rachel Dawes' good characteristics to Harvey Dent in the second movie, most fans agree that in the first movie, Rachel was just a female clone of what Harvey Dent should have been, and she didn't really serve a huge purpose in the movie other than as a love interest and damsel in distress. Don't get me wrong, I think Maggie was great, and Katie was good enough, and their character was a good character, but I just don't think it's really accurate to say Harvey was a rip off of Dawes (if that's even what you're saying - stupid internet and its silly medium of allowing misinterpretations!). :)
Dank4
25. N. Mamatas
Btw, how was the Joker able to blow up that hospital so easily? It usually takes weeks of preparation—including removing load bearing girders and such—for demolition teams to manage similar tricks.

The first half of The Dark Knight is great because the Joker is able to do what he does with almost no resources—it's will-to-power nihilism (not anarchism, as mentioned above)—but then both Joker and Batman essentially become godlike figures capable of anything that keeps the plot going and the film turns to crap, with Ledger's performance being the diamond in the middle of the turd.
Dank4
26. TheAdlerian
I don't blame Ledger because he wasn't the writer or director, but what he played wasn't the Joker, and I'll explain why.

I have years of experience working with the mental health and criminal populations, and of course they frequently cross over. There's a certain type of criminal who thinks life is a joke, mostly their life, and wish to spread the joke around. They'll actually sit there and giggle thinking to themselves and they're very quick to act out violently for no clear reason.

From the ones I've talked to they explain that their lives seemed like a series of divine jokes (I think the divine part is important) and it drove them crazy. Since the joke is always on them, they're ready to hurt the next person who pulls one.

If that's not the kind of character the Joker was based on then it's should have been. He was also based on The Man Who Laughs. In short that's a character who had his face mutilated forcing him to smile in the face of all the crap that happens to him.

The Joker is the kind of person who would watch kids playing running around screaming then light them on fire and laugh because now they're REALLY running around screaming. Have fun kiddies!! The Joker finds these not funny, but funny, things as a comment on his life.

The Dark Knight Joker had the rational philosophy of nihilism. He continuously pointed out that society is based on a bunch of fantasy and he wanted to break it down. There's nothing crazy about that because it's a sensible philosophy. In contrast, the Joker from the comics became enraged when after he decided to patent fish and was rejected for his efforts. That is someone you can't have an argument with and so you can't win against him. I've met countless people with a psychotic thought process who say things like that. I have not met "insane" people who just have odd philosophies because they wouldn't be insane.

So, the Dark Knight Joker wasn't very well done because he did not have a manic sense of humor and reminded me more of kind of pedo, introverted creep, who didn't care for society much. I think the writer should have done more research of actual intense mental illness because then the real Joker would have seemed less comic.
Dank4
27. BMunro
Re the hopital bit, his remarkable demolition job is followed by his somehow managing to put a huge load of bombs onto a ship with the national guard on hand and _nobody noticing_, which suddenly takes the movie into "Superfriends" levels of improbability. It's the problem with the "realism" of these new movies: when suddenly somebody does something which could only work through cartoon logic, it's a WTF moment far worse than it would be in a more deliberately cartoony movie: you would buy it more easily in a Tim Burton, let alone a Shumacher movie.

The Dark Knight's Joker is not so much mad as pure evil, someone who just "wants to see the world burn", and as such is a very effective villain, a more pro-active Hannibal Lecter (well, before the author nerfed him before giving him a Tragic Backstory, anyway): he really shouldn't be compared with the cartoon and comic book guy, who is canonically so insane that even god-like telepaths find his mind almost unbearable. He frankly shouldn't be able to function, and therefore isn't a good match for this new series: he's either too cartoony or too surreal to really work within the atmosphere

(My thought after seeing the movie: Ledger Joker, why so serious? You should be enjoying the chaos more. You should laugh, clown, laugh! But he works on his own terms)
Dank4
28. greenfurrything
I have not met "insane" people who just have odd philosophies because they wouldn't be insane.

It's not the philosophy that makes him insane; it's the blowing people up.

There are plenty of forms of insanity that can work off of rational philosophy. More correctly, there are plenty of forms of insanity that can appear, in limited contexts, as if it's completely rational. It can sound pretty and coherent when expressed at a manic pace by someone who truly believes it, but at its core, it's warped. You ask The Joker to sit down and clearly write out the views he holds, along with the arguments he thinks adequately support them, and you will find his irrationality. It's just that The Joker isn't a moron; he's brilliant, and he has put a lot of thought into his views, and he really is charismatic enough to nearly convince you that he's on to something.... Until you have a moment to think through it. (That is, unless you have a deep, aching emotional wound, like Harvey Dent did, and those don't really have the time/desire to think through it.)

Really, TheAlderian: you've seen the movie. You know that The Joker's philosophy involves blowing people up, torturing innocents, burning giant piles of money just for the heck of it, and you say he holds a "sensible philosophy." That shows how charismatic a character he is. I'm guessing it's the scene where he's talking to Harvey Dent that left you feeling he has a coherent philosophy. Given that small moment, where he has full control over how he presents himself, he was able to convince you that he holds a rational, sensible view. Then he goes and blows up a hospital. You were had.

I hate how much cinema and literature depend on the laughing, incomprehensible insane person--as if mental illness never had a form other than maniacle laughter. All the mentally ill people I've known have had the capacity to briefly convince you, or at least make you waiver slightly towards believing them. All the mentally ill people I've known have had the burning, powerful drive to feel justified in their beliefs that they create intricate "philosophies" like what The Joker spouts. Think of Charles Manson: he was able to convince enough people to start a cult into thinking he was a rational, wise philosopher. Mental illness isn't necessarily a total and complete lack of reason; more commonly, it is simply a warping of reason.

Mental illness is, for me, the most terrifying when it falls in the realm of logical fallacy, as opposed to utter nonsense. To that end, I found The Joker brilliantly terrifying.
Ashley McGee
29. AshleyMcGee
Mr. Bowes took a lot of time out his busy schedule to review these movies for our perusal and discussion, and I am grateful The Dark Knight made it into our repritoir.

I have to agree that the Joker does not qualifiy completely as an anarchist. When he asks Harvey Dent, "Do I look like a guy who has a plan?" he was obviously lying. It takes quite a bit of planning and preparation to pull off most of the Joker's terroist plots. The Joker's "schemes" become more and more involved as the movie progresses towards that "Godlike" state one our commentors talked about. When the Joker says he doesn't need a lot of resources, he's lying there too. You don't just decide to blow up a hospital one day. Everything the Joker did meant something, if not to anyone else, then surely to him. The Joker claimed he had no vested interest in Gotham except to "introduce a little anarchy." If he had no vested interest in Gotham, if he had no reason to stick his finger in the pie, why did he say to his lacky, "Tell your men they work for me now. This is my city."?

I would not, however, call him a nihilist. Whether or not the Joker has a predicted outcome for his terrorist plots, he does in fact care about the outcome. He fails to produce chaos if his plans are ruined. He succeeds if his plots succeed. The Joker has a moment of near-helplessness at the end of the film right after his boats do not blow up as he planned. His affect is clear: he is confused, upet. He throws the pry bar he had been beating Batman with in anger. Its a split second, but his reaction defines the line that the Joker walks. He is neither an anarchist or a nihilist. He plans too much; he cares too much. He is something in between. This dynamic is what takes all of those "Godlike" qualities and reduces him to a man, a singular man, but a man nonethless. He can be caught, dealt with. I think we have to rely on that to press onto the next film without him if Nolan does not cast him.

I would like to thank Mr. Bowes again for reviewing these films.
Grant Bester
30. Jockey
It's funny how every takes the Joker's motivation by what he says. After his two versions of how he got his scars, I never believed a word he said after - or before.
Dank4
31. TheAdlerian
Greenfurrything,

According to the world we live in, it is rational to kill and blow people up and it's done all the time by the top authorities in the world. If group A is annoying to you and then you kill them all, then they are no longer there to annoy you. It's certainly not how I think, but deactivating annoying people is the prime reason to kil, and it's very logical.

In the movie, Joker isn't quite a nihilist because if he was he wouldn't do anything, because why? Rather, he's an egotist trying to push a nihilistic agenda out of a desire to make the world into his own image. Still that's not crazy like you need to go to a mental institution. For instance, if Joker was arrested he would be sent to prison and not a mental health prison because his behavior as obviously intentional.

Crazy Laughing:

As I've mentioned, I've met laughing criminals before and so the behvaior isn't just a cliche. One of the best portrayals I've seen is in the flim noir classic, Kiss of Death. Richard Widmark player Tommy Udo who was a laughing psychopath that enjoyed hurting people just for the yucks.
Dank4
32. Shaun N.
I will never understand all the crap Bale gets for his
"Bat-voice." What's he supposed to do, use his normal, everyday voice and risk is identity? It's one of the things that annoyed most about the Spider-Man movies (aside from Sipder-Man 3 being total garbage): Tobey Maguire never tries to disguise his voice at all.

You're a six foot guy lurking in the shadows, dressed as a bat and looking to scare the hell out of people... You're going to put on a deep, angry sounding voice most likely. There's also some precedent, sort of, for it in the comics. Mentions made of the voice Batman uses have cropped up from time to time (my favorite might be in Frank Miller's All-Star Batman & Robin series, when Dick Grayson refers to that "Clint Eastwood voice".

I think the best SOUNDING Batman ever has to be Kevin Conroy. Few would argue with that, but listen to some of the earlier episodes of Batman: TAS and Conroy was using a somewhat rougher, more gravelly voice than he did in later episodes (or on Justice League). Bale's Bat-voice really isn't all that far off from that, although Conroy is just a great voice actor and no one's going to touch his Batman voice. That's not a knock on Bale at all.

Anyhow, it doesn't bother me... I've seen TDK at least a dozen times now, and the Bat-voice never fazes me.
Dank4
33. Jay W.
I actually enjoyed the fact that you remembered the Joker's fate as ambiguous. I think that it adds clarity to your concept, that the Joker in many ways is ambiguity itself; a force of nature not made human by definition or clarity of character. The ending, therefore, is the perfect ending for the Joker - there is no real ending.

He just stops...being.

Sure, you can reason that SWAT picks him up. You can also reason that in his uncontrollable nature, worked his way loose and fell to his "death." Whatever it is that happened, we'll never know.

What is almost scary to consider is that Ledger's death just adds to that lack of clarity, as even Hollywood cannot revisit the situation and answer the question. Brilliant.

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