Why Heath Ledger Can Be Replaced As The Joker

Ledger-Joker-Replaced.jpgIt was, in this writer’s opinion, the single greatest performance given by an actor in the history of the comic book genre of film. It was also the performance of a lifetime which only adds to the tragedy of his early demise. Heath Ledger’s performance playing “The Joker” will long be remembered and long be talked about. A performance so strong, that it makes us forget he’s not with us anymore. A performance so strong that its presentation overshadowed the shock of his passing. A performance that will be his legacy, and one that will probably earn him an Oscar nomination 6 months or so from now.

But as “The Dark Knight” finishes its life at the box office and the excitement of the DVD release comes and goes, we will once again be reminded of the fact that Ledger is not with us any longer. When our thoughts turn once again to the NEXT Batman movie we’ll be revisited yet again by the sad truth that Ledger will not return to play the Clown Prince of Crime.

The question will be raised by some: “Who should be next to play The Joker”? It’s an inevitable and also fair question to ask.

But as much as the asking of the question is certain… one of the responses is just as certain. There will be a great number of people who will answer that question (and indeed are already saying as much) that no one should play the Joker again, because (in their opinion) no one will ever be able to do as well as Ledger did.

That response is understandable due to the brilliance Ledger brought to the role, but it’s also a response I 100% disagree with.

Before I go into the reasons why I reject the idea that “no one will ever be able to play The Joker as well as Ledger did”, let me briefly address another issue I’m hearing some people bring up. Some people are suggesting that having another person play The Joker at this point would somehow be an “insult” or a “slap in the face” to Heath Ledger. That notion to me is utterly absurd.

First of all, do you think Heath Ledger put all his heart and sole into that character, sank so much energy and effort into the role to elevate it and raise the bar… just so the character would be retired if he couldn’t play the part anymore??? That’s sheer nonsense in my opinion. That’s the equivalent of saying “The best way to honor the magnificent career of Michael Jordan and to thank him for what he did for the game of basketball is to shut down the NBA after he retired”. Or “Lance Armstrong was so good at being an inspiration to people in his recovery against cancer, that no one else should ever try to overcome the disease and inspire others”. If WB doesn’t want to use The Joker again because he doesn’t fit into their future story plans, that’s totally fine. But to not use The Joker (who Ledger worked so hard to elevate and raise the bar for) because of some misguided notion that it would somehow be disrespectful to Ledger’s memory is one I reject outright.

Secondly, just because an actor does a wonderful job portraying a character, does not suddenly mean the character BELONGS to that actor. Ledger did his job magnificently… but his job was only one part of brining The Joker to “The Dark Knight”. The director who guided Ledger owns The Joker just as much as Ledger does. The Nolan brothers who wrote all the things that The Joker said and did owns The Joker just as much as Ledger does.

So would getting another actor to portray The Joker in the future be an “insult” to Heath Ledger? No, not even remotely. On the contrary, it could be the greatest honor you could give him.

But now let’s address the main issue here. The notion that no one could ever do as well as Ledger did playing The Joker. As amazing as Ledger was… i reject this idea. So due to the following reasons, here is why I believe Heath Ledger can be replaced as The Joker:

During his career, Heath Ledger turned in some truly exceptional performances. Brokeback Mountain (which despite how good Ledger was in it, I believe was an overrated movie) and The Dark Knight showed us how good Ledger could be when he was really on his game. But unfortunately, for every one Brokeback performance, there were 2 Casanova’s and The Order’s. For everyone one “The Dark Knight”, there seemed to be two The Four Feather’s and A Knight’s Tales. Ledger was hit and miss. That fact doesn’t detract from his accomplishment as The Joker one little bit… but there are many better actors out there than Ledger, and to suggest none of them have the potential to turn in an even better performance than Ledger did is pretty myopic and short sighted. It’s not to say that anyone WOULD be better… but that there are actors out there who carry the potential to do even better if they were really on their game like Ledger was on his. I’m not saying it’s PROBABLE… I’m saying it’s POSSIBLE.

Let’s play “what if” for a moment. Let’s say that Christopher Nolan ended up choosing Guy Pearce to play The Joker instead of Heath Ledger. Ok, now let’s assume that Pierce did an amazing job (when does Pearce ever do anything less?) playing The Joker, let’s say just 0.0005% less well than Ledger ended up doing. Ok… now follow me here. We’d all be praising Pierce for the great job he did right? Now can you imagine how much you would be laughing at me if I came out of nowhere and said “I bet Heath Ledger would be an even better Joker than Pearce just was”. I would have been laughed out of town. “Pierce’s Joker was perfect” people would be sure to tell me. “No one will ever be able to do it as well as he has”. Yet little do they know that Ledger would have been better… even if only by 0.0005%. It would therefore be naive of us to not acknowledge that out there are some people that would be 0.0005% better a Joker than even Ledger was… and probably names that we would laugh at in our ignorance, just as we would have laughed at Ledger’s name 2 years ago.

There was a time when it was said no one would EVER be as dominant or equal the accomplishments of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the world of professional bodybuilding. The man won the Mr. Olympia 7 times. You’re an idiot if you think anyone will ever do it better! Yeah well… that sounded safe enough to say until the day Ron Coleman won his 8th Mr. Olympia in a row. Whenever anyone says something has been done as well as it will ever be done… someone comes along and does it better. That’s the nature of things. Remember at the beginning of this post I mentioned that it is my opinion that Ledger’s performance as The Joker is the best performance in the history of the genre? That’s true… but it won’t be forever, or maybe even for long. Someone else will come along, probably someone we don’t really expect, and will beat it… and that’s a great thing to think about if you’re a fan of the genre.

I remember back before Ledger was cast for the role, the online message boards were filled with casting ideas for The Joker… and usually the word “ONLY” preceded their name. ONLY Mark Hamill can be The Joker. The only person to play Joker is Guy Pearce. No one else other than Crispin Glover can really make the role work. The only person they should consider is Jack Nicholson again! Yeah, everyone had their idea about who the “ONLY” person alive was who could adequately play The Joker. Turns out they were all wrong, because Heath Ledger came in and rocked the hell out of that role. But now people, refusing to learn their lesson, are once again using the word “ONLY”, but this time it’s with Ledger. The lesson here is that there is NEVER “only” one person for a role.

At this point we have no idea if The Joker was even in the plans for the next Batman movie before Ledger died, so all this discussion could be for nothing. My only point here is to say, as great as Ledger was as The Joker (I believe great enough to warrant Oscar consideration), to believe that no one can possibly do it as well or better is completely naive in my opinion. And being aware of that fact is in no way a “slam” on the breathtaking performance he gave us, but rather just a recognition of how life and reality works.

Should they have The Joker in the next Batman flick? That’s a totally different question. Maybe the character doesn’t fit in with the story arch plans they have. But if they do have a story in mind that involves The Joker character, then it is possible that another actor could do the role just as well or even better than Ledger did, and to do so would be honoring and a tribute to the level that Ledger brought that character to in his final, and most brilliant performance.

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130 thoughts on “Why Heath Ledger Can Be Replaced As The Joker

  1. i think there is no need to play the joker again..in my opinion and many others this was one of the greatest performances ever..as for talking about michael jordan who as an all round basketball player has still never been matched..goys like this appear once in a lifetime just like heaths performance..arnold and body building..hes still regarded as one of the best body builders..ur comparing with another dody builder decades later..plus the steroids r even better quality nowadays..my point is talent and performance like this only appears every so often..ur in the calibre of greats..for heaths performance to be matched in this generation..in my opinion..no way man! it was electrifying..faultless..perfect..job done..bring on the riddler :)

  2. I believe Heath Ledger can be replaced as the Joker, but whether he is to be locked up at Arkham or in Prison or roaming the streets like the scarecrow was at the beginning of Dark Knight could actually affect how the director WANTED the Joker to act and be portrayed as. Maybe someone who hasn’t been in the spotlight since the late 90s will step up to the plate and knock it out of the park…or maybe it will be someone that people would never suspect of playing a role like that, such as Mark Wahlberg or Leonardo DiCaprio (I am not saying they would be, I am just using their current starpower status as an example). It is all about how the particular actor sees his role once the director communicates the POV, and how the actor preps. Ledger did that in a hotel room by himself for a month and was a phenomenon…maybe the next one to don the title of Joker will follow the trend and be insane and fresh and truly outstanding. The sequel’s definitely already in the works so we’ll have to wait until 2010 and see.

  3. Where do we begin I wish I would of found this blog earlier. To the writer of the article, kudos to you well written and I like your ideas and let me start out saying I’m pro replacing ledger. When I first heard he was casted as the joker my stomach dropped and I was pissed. Needless to say as the trailers came out I ate my words and my atticipation grew. He deserves and better win an oscar for the performance he did, but thats where the joker ends? Would he want that, most definately!!! I believe his preparing for the joker lead to his sleeping disorders which eventually led to his demise. He went nuts just look at his last interview the man didn’t have adhd, and he wasn’t coked up, he lost it alil. Whoever replaces him and it can b done just god forbig crispin glover and maybe guy pearce im not too familiar with him, they have to go by the guidlines ledger set, reinvent for themselves? No, nolan’s joker is ledger’s joker, they should do the best to cast a great actor who looks like him(come on we have makeup) and the voice is not hard to mimic I did it preparing for halloween and I’m from new york doin a mid western accent. Unfortunately the best candidate I feel is dead, the late Brandon Lee from The Crow. The riddler should go to Johnny Deep to keep women’s mouths out of it because they’ll uproar with the replacing of heath ledger stupidyly, that’ll occupy them. Nolan needs to make a decision and fast, enough with the art and yada yada, someone make a great script and nolan do your job and direct. i don’t dislike the idea of catwoman in this upcoming film i remember being angry with her not being in batman forever, but then again the hell with schumacher clooney didn’t kill batman he did with his neon light spectacle of a film. As well robin should b introdced. Finally, someone tell christain bale to talk to michael keaton(the best batman) and findout how to talk when he’s batman cuz i can’t stop laughing at these youtube spoofs. If you disagree you have the right to your own opinion but as avid a batman fan as I am, I’m not gonna argue with you because in the end you just won’t win me over.

  4. In some way I agree with you. I think that not recasting The Joker out of “respect” for Ledger is ridiculous, of reasons you’ve stated. But. I do not think they should recast the role.

    *To prepare for the role, Ledger lived alone in a hotel room for a month, formulating the character’s posture, voice, and personality, and kept a diary, in which he recorded the Joker’s thoughts and feelings.

    While he initially found it difficult, Ledger eventually generated a voice unlike that of Jack Nicholson’s character in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film.
    He was also given Batman: The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, which he “really tried to read and put it down”.
    Ledger also cited A Clockwork Orange and Sid Vicious as “a very early starting point for Christian [Bale] and I. But we kind of flew far away from that pretty quickly and into another world altogether.” “There’s a bit of everything in him. There’s nothing that consistent,” Ledger said, adding that “There are a few more surprises to him.”
    *From Wikipedia

    This is what the guy did for his role. I think it’s fair to say he recreated the character, and he went to extraordinary lengths to do so. Alone in a hotelroom, writing artificial thoughts and feelings… I imagine he almost became the character, and “knew” him. I’m having a hard time imagining any actor being able to copy that, and therefore I don’t think anyone will be able to be a better Joker IN NOLANS UNIVERSE.

    That’s an important note. I’m not saying the Joker should be buried with Ledger, what I’m saying is that I don’t think anyone could outact Ledgers Joker, which has his place in Nolans universe. For the next era of batman, sure, bring him back up. But I don’t think it would be right to give another actor a go for this role.

    I could, of course, be wrong. But this is what I think. In fact, I think there shouldn’t be another movie. I pictured the next movie as the grand arena for Batman and Joker, different from Dark Knight somehow, dunno how, though… But he’s the best villain Batman’s got, as far as I’m concerned. And I find it improbable that ANOTHER villain SUDDENLY appears. I mean, where do they hide all the time? A third villain would be, in my imagination, ridiculous(I don’t count two-face as a real villain). Ras Al Ghul lead an army that had already existed for thousands of years, and Joker, well, he suddenly found a playmate^^ But a third… Nah. Besides, I like open endings. They could easily not make another movie without me getting angry. Everyone else, however…

    Well, sorry ’bout the wall of text, folks^^ Hope someone replies:P

  5. I think the Joker can always be played by someone else. This may take a while to be accepted because the Joker Heath persona is so very much associated with Batman’s Joker but it’s more the Joker that makes this villain than it is Heath Ledger or any actor for that matter. The character was cast long ago and has been embraced by every Batman fan around the world. Heath’s performance, as well as all the other actors, was brillinat in this latest film. But this won’t be the last memorable Joker. You can take that guy and make him as crazy, ugly, hideous or as clever as you want and someday someone will do just that and it will be another great Batman film. But for now we will relish this masterpiece for a few years.

  6. (Type your comment here. Make sure you’ve read the commenting rules before doing so) I don’t agree with your article, I think Heath’s shoes are some pretty big one’s to fill. I think out of respect for Heath, they should just retire the role of the Joker.

  7. You have a very good point. When I watched The dark knight I almost instantly afterwards began to wonder who would be a good replacemnt to the joker (if there would be one). My first thought was in fact Johnny Depp, my favourite actor. Not only because of his similar thraiths and the fact that he has already partially replaced Heath Ledger in another, unfinished movie with two other actors, but he is also an excellent actor. If you want to look for the guys I think would be the best to replace him cause of their good acting I would say Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Keaton, Crispin Glover and of course Johnny Depp.
    But if focus upon an actor looks very similar to Heath I would say Joseph Gordon Lewitt and Edward Furlong. However, I can’t remember any role who would indicate that Joseph would make an acting as good as Heath or not. Edward may look similar to Heath and look good in make up (as you see in in The crow:Wicked prayer) but I fear that he might be to young and unexperienced for the role.

    And I think that the joker will probably play a role in future installments to the series. It could be a cameo at Arkham asylum or big role i a movie. Personally, I think he will play a role similar to Hannibal Lecters in Red Dragon or The silence of the lambs.
    Like try to imagen this:
    Since the Joker appeared several bad guys similar to him have appeared (ex. The penguin). Plus the police is still chasing Baman. In addition to this a new super villain appears and begins to leave his marks on the town(most likely the Riddler). Officer Gordon tries to further explore what the villain may do next and tries to get advice of the Joker. But the Joker replies that he won’t give them anything unless they are willing to give him a meeting with the Batman. A thing very hard to fix indeed. At the same time the joker could probably lure himself out of Arkham with the help of Harleyquin (if she would appear I think she should be played by Jennifer Tilly).
    Anyway that’s just my idea of it. I bet that the third movie will be worthy seeing with or without the joker.

  8. “…People (including his colleagues) view the Joker as Heath’s swan song and they went in to this movie already wanting him to be amazing. He did not disappoint. He took the part to another stratosphere. Even if there is someone who could play the role, none of the current generation of actors would ever step into that purple suit. That’s Heath’s suit…”

    I love the way Sophie put it. Ledger really put his heart and soul into the character. He cannot be replaced and that’s the simple truth. I’ve always loved the Joker character, moreso, perhaps, even than The Batman, and what Ledger did to it’s presentation was flawless. If it could please even the most fickle of comic book fans, it deserves to be celebrated and again, as Sophie put it, it was his swan song.

    The Guy Pearce analogy doesn’t work. See, what you fail to stay coherent to is that Ledger was on square one and he built The Joker from there all by himself to fit into Nolan’s Gotham. If Guy Pearce had done the same, Ledger would just ruin the role. No one can fit into those shoes. Can’t be done!

    You’ve already been corrected on the Jordan analogy but I’ll reiterate the other comments, just for good measure… just because Heath died, it doesn’t mean acting needs to stop as a whole. It just means that The Joker HE created needs to be his own. I’m sure you wouldn’t want someone pissing on your grave that way either.

    And… I’m sure it can be done better. But not if it’s done the exact same way. If it’s done the same way, as the same Joker in the same continuity, it’ll be lucky to even be as good as Ledger, if at all even decent. You can’t compare body-building to art.

    Finally, I’d like to ask you all a question about this topic… Let’s say, for one second… Nolan decides to cast some other actor after all. It can go one of two ways… One, he’ll suck and ruin the franchise as a whole… Two, he’ll be better or as good and poor Ledger’s accomplishments and pioneering will become a footnote in the Batman mythos. Is that what we want for a creative, industrious, and all-around decent man? For his crowned performance to be forgotten this way by vultures? I certainly disagree. After watching TDK, I grew to care for Ledger and started look into his life and older movies. He was a good man. No doubt about that whatsoever. And I also have no doubt, whatsoever, that he will not be replaced. Nolan isn’t an idiot. ‘Nuff said.

  9. Movies are made to tell stories, and if the story calls for a joker then get one. However, I completely disagree with your analogy.

    “…just so the character would be retired if he couldn’t play the part anymore??? That’s sheer nonsense in my opinion. That’s the equivalent of saying “The best way to honor the magnificent career of Michael Jordan and to thank him for what he did for the game of basketball is to shut down the NBA after he retired”….”

    Retiring an individual character and shutting down an entire sport are not equivalent to one another at all!!!

    Your analogy is SHEER NONSENSE, the equivalent would not be to shut down the NBA, it would be to retire the players number out of respect for that particular player. No one is asking to get rid of “acting” all together, they’re simply suggesting to retire the character out of respect, not the actual act of acting.

  10. (Type your comment here. Make sure you’ve read the commenting rules before doing so)

    Heath Ledger’s shoes will be very hard to fill. There is one man that I think that will fit the bill in a return role in Nolans Batman movies. That man is a little known character voice artist from Toronto by the name of Chris Elchesyn age 26 and is on You Tube..

    He goes by the name Huntie on You Tube… His Joker is even Darker than Ledger’s but as a return character with the likes of the Penguin or the Riddler he would fit right in as ther leader.

    Thanks Max

  11. I agree! I think The Joker should live on as a Memorial to Heath Ledger. Hell,back in 1989 when Jack Nicholson played The Joker everyone thought that there would never be another to rival that of Nicholson’s. For 19 years,crazy ass Jack owned that role! Then Heath Ledger came along and well he made Nicholson look like an utter clown. Now,Ledger owns the part and yes he does deserve The Oscar but for Best Actor-in my opinion-and not Supporting Actor because HE is the movie! Now that he’s gone,GOD rest his soul,The Nolans are faced with the dilemna of replacing Heath. If they do decide on bringing back The Joker-and I think they will-I could see either Alan Cumming or Adrien Brody pulling it off. Cumming looks like just The Joker from the comic books. He’s a great character actor. Has that PeeWee Herman grin! And as for Brody,he really does resemble Heath Ledger’s Joker with his long locks of hair and his moody demeanor. And to boot,he won Best Actor for THE PIANIST. So,in closing,I think either of these fine British Actors could pull it off. And it wouldn’t be a slap in Heath’s face. It would be an honor to whichever actor fills those big clown shoes.

  12. And for the record to the people who believe dent/ two face is still alive here is what it says in the script. Word for word

    “Dent lies at the bottom of the hole, his neck broken.

    That is taken directly from the final draft of the shooting script. He is dead. end of story.

  13. They’re going to need to put Joker in the third Batman film whether they like it or not. Batman’s greatest enemy cannot just be left hanging (literally) but we all pretty much know that he will be locked up in Arkham Asylum. Heath Ledger did an amazingperformance whcih was seriously oscar-worthy and we’ll never forget that but he would not just want to remove the chartacter because he felt it was his. A new actor who is of similar look and build to Ledger could add their own unique twist to the charcacter and show us something whcih we didn’t see out of the character in The Dark Knight. I believe that The Joker’s role in the thrid film should be fairly minor and locked up in Arkham but we should still be reminded of his menacing presence and he could even be secretly pulling the strings of the other villains from inside the prison.

  14. I personally don’t see any reason why the Joker should appear once again in the film, but if they do decide to let him do one more
    appearance, they need to find some else to replace Heath. But they have to find someone how can do a better or at least equal job than him, because he really made an effort and it turned out to be a really great job.

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  15. I think the Joker kind of needs to be featured in the Batman films (if they continue the series after this, which in my opinion, I think is a must!), because he’s Batman’s most notorious nemesis. When you think of a Batman vs. villain comic book, or whatever, the bad guy that most likely comes to mind would be the Joker, right?

    I thought Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was amazing (and I agree, an Oscar nomination should probably be on the cards – note, I say nomination and not outright win). However, I think it worked so well because you couldn’t without difficulty tell that it was him playing in the role – if you hadn’t known that it was Heath Ledger, I doubt you would have figured it out.

    I have great respect for Heath Ledger and I thought he was a very good actor, but I do think the role should be carried on. In a discussion on another forum, it was suggested that Joseph Gordon-Levitt play the character, as he knew Heath Ledger and he also looks kind of similar; I think he’d work as the character (my only misgivings is he’s quite a bit shorter than Heath Ledger, but with the marvels of cinematic technology at film-makers’ disposal nowadays, I’m sure that could be overcome).

  16. I think you underestimate how intertwined the public’s reaction to the Joker is to Heath Ledger’s untimely death. People (including his colleagues) view the Joker as Heath’s swan song and they went in to this movie already wanting him to be amazing. He did not disappoint. He took the part to another stratosphere. Even if there is someone who could play the role, none of the current generation of actors would ever step into that purple suit. That’s Heath’s suit.

    While he made his share of clinkers, Ledger’s fearless approach to his craft gained him enormous respect in the biz. He was so very loved and respected among his peers. Daniel Day-Lewis wouldn’t touch the Joker with a barge pole. None of them would relish a chance to “one-up” Mr. Ledger.

    This Joker is not just a role or a character any longer. Even though his presence, under all that make-up, was not visible in the film, Heath WAS the Joker. He made it his own and it will be his for a long time to come.

    Perhaps in twenty or thirty years, with a new generation of actors, another director’s vision of the Joker might make it to screen. It will take that long for Heath’s blazing performance to cool down. So be it.

  17. Let’s not forget that after Jack Nicholson’s performance as the Joker in the 1989 Batman, many thought that his performance could not be outdone… Then Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker and many people started complaining. Then publicity photos and trailers started to change people’s minds… and then all the buzz built up around the film… and then his death… and more buzz on Heath’s performance as the Joker… and then people saw the film and more people started talking about it. After all that, the general consensus is that Heath Ledger IS The Joker.

    If the ever wanted to bring the Joker back, there is absolutely no reason as to why another actor cannot play the Joker. If an actor is committed to their craft and takes on the role, then they become the character. When actors do that, then we forget the actor and only see the character onscreen in the film. That’s what happened to me when I saw The Dark Knight… I did not think of Heath Ledger the entire time because I only saw the Joker, the creepiest onscreen villain I’ve seen in a while.

    So should the Joker be recast? Absolutely. But when? Not for part 3 only because Ledger’s death stirred up such publicity and recasting a role like this would not be beneficial to the story. It would probably be best to bring the Joker back in part 4 or 5… and only if it serves the story.

  18. (Type your comment here. Make sure you’ve read the commenting rules before doing so)For me your right, but I dont think the majority of TDK fans will agree and so recasting Joker could riskpeople being put off when the new film comes out.
    I’d love to see someone not copy Ledger but try sonmething different, for me a physical opposite to ledger should be picked and one who I can already see laughing hysterically, Adrian brody.

  19. I think there’s a matter of sensitivity involved. And whereas Jack Nicholson was the Joker in the old movies, and they went in a completely new direction for these movies, one wonders – isn’t the Joker going to be portrayed like he was in TDK? Make-up? Scars? etc? Then you have an actor imitating what Heath was doing for the sake of continuity.

    I think they should only let another actor play the Joker if that actor is allowed to play the role however they want. They shouldn’t have to slave to what Ledger did. And I don’t think audiences would buy the Joker suddenly being portrayed completely different if he’s in the next movie. But maybe down the line in a few years, a couple movies later, after Nolan has left, they can bring him back and then, yes, a new actor would be more than welcome to bring the Joker to life on screen again.



  21. HellSpawn : Let me guess…you’re blind, you’re using some text to speech application to post this comment, and you’ve accidentally hit the caps lock button. Happens to blindeys sometimes I guess.





  23. I wonder if it would be possible to digitally insert health’s face on another actor. James Cameron is doing some interesting stuff right now with his film Avatar. I read in an interview about him digitally replacing the actor’s face for alternate takes, the same way they replace dialogue in editing. So I wonder if in a few years time if technology would allow something like digitally creating heath’s face. And what would the adience’s and filmmaker’s response to this be if such a technique was used?

  24. RIP Heathy. You’ve still got them goin’ on about you! We loved you here and we love you there. May your legend never die…

  25. I read your article and some of the comments…and I agree with Pineapplehead’s point of having a different actor/actress play a character in one movie and then not in another, or just replacing them, IS more of a distraction. And on your statement about Rachel Dawes, that was in fact a distraction for me not only because it was a different actress, but because I hate Maggie Gylenhall…Regardless of who might do it better (the original or a replacement character) it is a distraction to some of us.

  26. I read your article and found myself really enjoying and actually even agreeing with it when I’m done although some people have raised some valid points. In the older Batman movies people were unphased with the changing of Batmans (Kilmer to Clooney) (although I think they probably cared less about those movies altogether). The problem with the Joker is if someone decides to take a whole new approach to them much like Jack did with his and Heath did with his own. If the “next” Joker turns back into the suave one that Jack portrayed I’m not really sure how that would go to audiences. And I dunno there’s always the possibility of using effects and just manipulating audio (like they did for the trailers) and putting him in the next movie.

  27. I was one of those “Ledger nailed it, but the Joker’s gone for good since Ledger passed” guys. I understand and kind of agree with the article. There could be someone out there (Guy Pearce IS amazing. Memento? Hello?) who could possibly OWN it rather than just ‘nail’ it.

    Thing is, I like continuity. I read the more-recent Linda Hamilton article, about her appearing in a flashback and why Hollywood shouldn’t go out of their way to get someone else to play the role. Linda Hamilton IS Sarah Connor, and I guess a lot of people see Heath Ledger AS the Joker.

    I didn’t care about the Holmes/Gyllenhal thing with Rachel Dawes’ character. Dawes was support. Joker was the nemesis. If you think there is someone who is .0005% better than Bale to be Batman, you’re entitled to that opinion – but I don’t think most people can deny that Bale is doing a great job. I also think most people would be a little pissed if someone else took the keys to the Batmobile next time around. Nolan is obviously taking the Batman franchise very seriously and if I were taking it seriously, I’d do everything I could to keep Bale as Batman, Freeman as Fox, Oldman as Gordon.

    I think the Joker arc should end with the movie. The Scarecrow arc didn’t end till five minutes into the Dark Knight, but his deal was still in the air when Batman Begins was over. The Joker arc, I believe, is resolved. Let’s move on to the next bad guy…

  28. Don’t forget… it was the writing that made the Joker come to life in
    Dark Knight. Get the same writer and you’re half way there…
    The Joker is probably in Arkham Asylum, so all you’d need
    is one quick scene where Batman visits the Joker in there for
    some reason…shoot it real dark and you may not even notice the
    difference…obviously the Joker wouldn’t have his make up on in an asylum, so it could be a neat way to get around him looking different….unless you’re looking and waiting for it…like every human on
    earth would be…

  29. Well,I think it should at least be while befdre anyone tries to “trump”
    Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker. Let his name get the glory since he is no longer around to better the role himself!
    For if he was around (R.I.P.) and The Joker returned, Heath could better the role I am sure! Heath Ledger was a “GREAT” actor; because I think that opinion should be left up to the person viewing the film. Who is one person to judge whether or not someone is a good or great actor?! I am sure that one day someone could perform the role better, but for now I do not think that it will happen!
    Rest in Peace Heath Ledger…The Actor of my Heart!

  30. i can see it now, the teaser trailer for the 4th movie, Bruce and Alfred are talkin. “Alfred, I thought I was done with this man, I figured Arkam would hold him” Alfred then says something very smart and confusing. Then after that we hear either, “I’m back” or laughter. Ya im only 16 so my ideas arent very good, o well tho.

  31. I totally agree. A replacement is always out there. The Joker is too classic of a villain to give up on. He should pop up in, or be the focus of, Batman movies from now until the end of time. Burton’s big mistake (along with the Prince soundtrack and others) was killing off the Joker and other villains. If directors/screenwriters can just do it right, they can keep Batman movies rolling for as long a they want. They could become an endless medium, like the Batman comic book franchise. And what Batman fan would not want that? Thanks for the post; it was spot on what I was thinking.

  32. TO: STAR-METER.COM – I was thinking the same thing while reading the article. I also think James Franco could pull it off, but I’d also be intrigued to see Guy Pierce do it too. We’ll see…

  33. Forget all this hoo ha and blah zay blah. Heath Ledger OWNED that role.. hands down. Big UPS to the producers and screenplay writers. But Ledger did the work. Michael shot the rock.. Phil drew the plays.. u catch my drift? DOn’t belive til you see it, and then see it twice. I’ve seen The Dark Knight 7 times in theatres now and it’s completley obvious that Heath played the Joker better than any Joker.. from cartoons to big screen. AND until i see someone outdue Heath’s utterly shocking and downright spectacular performance…. well.. then MAYBE i’ll have to watch that 2.5 hour movie 7 times at the cinema.

  34. Just throwing it out there. Perhaps the studio could keep Ledger as the joker and do it Weekend at Bernie’s style.

  35. I personally thought Ledger’s performance was amazing. I also think that the Joker’s story was very well concluded in The Dark Knight. I honestly see no need to bring him back. If the story calls for it however, they better get someone who can deliver as good of a performance as Heath.

  36. i think the joker WILL be in the next one mostly because the joker sayd “were meant to do this FOREVER” at the end of TDK

    and becuz he doesnt die

    wasnt michael keaton supposed to be the joker? bring him in..and forget he played as batman once…or why not johny depp…

  37. Hey John if you want to see a great movie that Ledger did rent Ned Kelly. Its about Australias original badass. Good watch.

  38. Listen peeps. I would love to see Daniel Day Lewis play the role of Joker just as much as anyone else… however remember that Daniel Day Lewis is literally insane. If he were some how magically cast as the Joker he would feel the need to research the role (as he always does). He would want to know what it’s actually like to blow up a bus, have his lips cut, rob a bank, or do other insane things that the Joker does. I just don’t have enough patience to wait even longer for the next batman movie because he is “researching.”

    Plus I just don’t see him joining a franchise… so why don’t all you there will be blood fan boys just lose hope on that one because it’s not going to happen.

  39. Any well cast selection can play the Joker or whoever, don’t disagree but moving on I’m damn sure Nolan is done with the Joker and is looking forward to a new crop of villains.

    If Nolan is smart as what I’m thinking of, he’ll do the right thing. I have liitle doubt what he’s doing to do.

  40. The way heathe ledger played the joker role was simply amazing the best joker on screen yet….if they had to put joker back in2 the story line then the person who played him would have to be better then heath ledger which I don’t think could happen

  41. Lizzy, the analogy to Depp and Jack Sparrow isn’t the same. Ledger was merely putting his own interpretation on an existing character which is a pop-culture icon, a character who is a key part of a major franchise. The Joker has been played by many other actors, all have done a good job.

    I think the other reason people feel this way is that Ledger died so soon after playing the part. It’s just people having a close attachment to the actor in that role, but rationally it shouldn’t come into the decision.

    Should no Superman TV show or movie ever be made again because Christopher Reeve died? What about all of the talented actors who have played roles in Shakespeare plays and died? We don’t say that the role should never be recast, no matter how talented an actor may be.

    It seems to me that usually the people saying the role shouldn’t be recast are not big fans of Batman either. They don’t realize the importance of the character to the whole Batman universe. If the Nolan Bat-franchise continues for a long time (and I hope it does), then you need to have the Joker return.

    The comparison John makes to shutting down the NBA when Jordan retires is a good way of looking at it. It’s like saying ‘I don’t think this person should ever be out-done, so lets not give anyone the chance’. Jordan’s great performance still exists. Likewise, The Dark Knight will remain a fantastic film, and no-doubt will be a highlight of this Bat-series regardless. But it shouldn’t be the end of the Joker.

  42. Any actor can be replaced and that includes Heath Ledger.
    I must say that I loved his performance as the Joker and have already watched the movie twice and cant wait to see it again.

  43. I completely agree that Heath pulled off the best acting that I have seen in a long time. He blew me away! He totally took the Joker to a whole new level never before seen on TV. But, I also know that someone else can pull off the role just as well as Heath did. I think that it is completely ridiculous to think that we should never see the Joker again because of the out standing performance of this briliant man. There are a lot of brilliant actors who could pull this off, and with costum and makeup, he could be made up to look very simialer to Heath. One actor comes to mind and that is Jonny Depp. Depp can play any role presented to him, and I believe that he would make Heath very proud and bring a whole knew light to the Joker. We also need to give the writer thier due credit. I know with out thier inspiration, there is no way Heath could have reached his full potentual. The Joker will be seen again!! I have total faith in that!

  44. In my opinion, the same reason why Heath Ledger shouldnt be replaced is the same reason why no one else should ever play Jack Sparrow. Can anyone else play Jack Sparrow as well as Depp? Sure. As original and funny it is, it’s probably not the most difficult thing in the world to imitate, or reimagine.

    Of course someone else can play the joker as well as Heath Ledger! That’s not the point. The point is that Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson own the joker, in two different versions – the campy and the psychotic Joker versions. What version is there left to see? Do you really want another Joker version and then endless speculation on oscar nominations, whether the new one is better than Heath, the inevitable comparisons, criticisms, complaints, etc?

    “If Michael Jordan retired would we shut down the NBA” is analogous to “When Heath Ledger died we shut down all of Hollywood”. Ridiculous comparison. This is role that Heath Ledger poured his heart and soul into, and may have been a factor in his death. “If it aint broke, don’t fix it”. When an actor does so much for a role and practically makes it his own, then it’s just flabbergasting if someone else tries to imitate it. Just silly.

  45. In my opinion, the same reason why Heath Ledger shouldnt be replaced is the same reason why no one else should ever play Jack Sparrow. Can anyone else play Jack Sparrow as well as Depp? Sure. As original and funny it is, it’s probably not the most difficult thing in the world to imitate, or reimagine.

    Of course someone else can play the joker as well as Heath Ledger! That’s not the point. The point is that Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson own the joker, in two different versions – the campy and the psychotic Joker versions. What version is there left to see? Do you really want another Joker version and then endless speculation on oscar nominations, whether the new one is better than Heath, the inevitable comparisons, criticisms, complaints, etc?

    “If Michael Jordan retired would we shut down the NBA” is analogous to “When Heath Ledger died we shut down all of Hollywood”. Ridiculous comparison. This is role that Heath Ledger poured his heart and soul into, and may have been a factor in his death. “If it aint broke, don’t fix it”. When an actor does so much for a role and practically makes it his own, then it’s just flabbergasting if someone else tries to imitate it. Just silly.

  46. A very good article John.

    I really want to see the Joker character return. I would love it if Ledger could reprise the role, but sadly it cannot be. But it is because of the great job he did, that I really want to see the story of the Joker continued. Ledger created a brilliant imagining of the character, and I care about it, I want to see more.

    I don’t see it as disrespectful. The character was not made for Ledger alone, the Joker is a well known icon who has been around for years. He is an essential part of the Batman character. This current Bat-franchise has many years, and many good films still left in it. And the Joker should be a part of it.

    The character doesn’t need to be the central focus again. He has had his film, and it will remain a tribute to Ledger and a great starting point for the character. But I would like to think that the Joker can return in other capacities.

    What if the third film dealt with the concept briefly touched upon in Dark Knight, of others being inspired to take up the cause because of the inspiration set by Batman. We could see an introduction of Robin as a young imitator whom Wayne takes under his wing. On the other side of the coin, we could have Harley Quinn, and The Riddler, two characters who could be portrayed as being inspired to cause mayhem because of the example of The Joker. With a story like that you could leave the Joker out of sight for virtually the entire film, still locked away in Arkham. But his presence is felt throughout the entire film, by those who mimic his actions.

  47. ricohet you are right. They are not going to use the joker in the next film. it will be a different villain. I just hope it isn’t bane. Bane is a terrible storyline.

  48. John’s right the Joker can be recast but what Heath’s was so good that the bar is set extremely high and with the quality of the Nolan Batman universe it’s going to be tough to find someone who can fill the shoes let behind by Heath.

    It can be done but IMO it’s just going to be hard finding the right actor because you don’t want to someone playing Heath playing the Joker but at the same time I think there needs to be continuity of the Joker that’s already been established in this universe.

    I just think that some of the guys that might have done a fine job before Heath made it his own just won’t work now and I believe only a special actor can fill the void and I think that’s were the problem comes in because I think they almost need to get an actor before they write the Joker into a new film.

    There are plenty of stories to be told and I think without question that Christopher Nolan will be back, the movie is well received and it’s making a ton of money and there is no reason if the time is put in that the quality will be there once again.

    That said I think the 3rd Nolan Batman film will actually happen sooner rather than later but I don’t see it being a Joker movie so I don’t think the talk of who would replace will matter much.

  49. I agree John – the Joker can be recast, and probably will. Personally, I’d like to see a Nolan retelling of the Bane story – in the comics Bane was a far cry from the Batman and Robin version – and there’s a lot of potential for Bane in the Nolan-verse.

  50. MajorXero has been screaming at http://www.fusedfilm.com that Heath Ledger was not that great of an actor and that he could be easily replaced. I agree when everyone jumps off the Ledger bandwagon I hope they don’t break their ankle, also I hope the next guy does his own joker and not an ode to Heath

  51. I agree with most of that but the only point I have an issue with

    Because guy pearce wasn’t cast so its a silly argument. Ledger was cast. I see what you mean with most of your points but stick the reality of the situation. I mean we could also say “imagine if they had made the joker a woman and cast sharon stone” or ‘imagine if justin timberlake had been cast as harvey dent” there is no point using “what ifs” in debates like this because you could just as easily say “what if guy pearce had been cast and he was awful and the film bombed because of his awful performance” I mean, yeah, “what if” but it didn’t happen so whats the point in using made up situations to prove a point?

    and the nolans did not write everything the joker said and did is not entirely correct.

    Ledger ad libbed a lot of stuff.in fact one of my favorite moments was an adlib – when ledger mouths the “six” to the cop he is taunting that was an ad lib. when he arrives at the fundraiser and eats the flower, drinks the champagne and torments guest he ad libbed most of that so lets not get carried away.

    He came up with the body movements and voice by himself. He really did create most of this incarnation of the joker.

    having said that there is no way the joker will be in the next film.I believe they will recast eventually but not straight away.
    Lets face it why bother recasting it if you are not going to try and recreate the same performance? It wouldn’t really make much sense to the audience if you all of a sudden had a new joker giving a completely different take and I personally have no immediate need to see a copycat performance. Plus you put the film into a pretty hairy spot. Lets face it this performance has been praised all and sundry – do you really think people will just accept a recast and not generate a whole lot of negative buzz immediately? People are in love with this performance and you are just setting yourself up for a whole lot of negative buzz out the gate if you did it in the next film.

    I personally think there is no way the Nolans will use The Joker in the next film. They just won’t have any interest in that character no that ledger has died. It will still seem to sad and raw to them to do it. and I could imagine the cast are hardly hoping to be sitting on set while someone gives a copycat performance of the guy who was the youngest guy on set who died tragically from an accidental drug overdose. It would feel like way to much of a drag.

    He will show up again eventually I imagine which I am fine but I but not right away.

    my guess would be it won’t be the nolans who bring him back. Nolan will do the next one and step aside and the the studio and new director will bring him back and by then people won’t car as much.

  52. This portrayal was Ledgers own creation, and if the next Batman film does indeed call for the Joker the opinion will always be mixed. If say, Daniel Day Lewis portrayed the joker brilliantly, the general review would be along the lines of this: Daniels performance was a tribute… blah blah. If however Lewis gave a terrible performance the reviews would include some comment saying that this performance was the theft of Ledgers creation… blah blah.

  53. I think there are plenty of replacements. I have a friend on Youtube that pretty much owns the character even with new lines and nuances. Why not.

  54. (Type your comment here. Make sure you’ve read the commenting rules before doing so)I am all for seeing the Joker again. I don’t think we will see Nolan go there with the next film as there are lots of other paths to be walked. How ever I could easily see the Joker playing a smaller role in say a fourth movie if the franchise was to gain one. I also think having a new style of joker would not be bad a thing as time passes characters do change. Most of all i think this Film is over shadowed by Heath and that there were many great performances within it, I think Nolan is sure of his vision for the franchise and will not let the public sway his decision,

  55. @Fridrik

    I totally agree. Content over grammar by far. I guess the content is usually so good that I forget that I’m just reading a blog. So kudos to you John, for making me feel that way.

  56. Dilbert is always good, also a really good point.

    Nitpicking grammar should never get in the way of creating good content for your site.

    Keep up the good work

  57. I feel that the joker does indeed need to return. In fact I think he has too. Out of all the enemies that Batman has, it is the Joker that is the most popular and his true arch-enemy…he was created at least in the eyes of Frank Miller to be the life long enemy of The Batman. Others will come and go, but the Joker will forever live and be Ying to Batman’s Yang. They are forever entwined. Now I don’t expect him to come back in the next movie but he should make it back it back at some point if the Movie series survives that long.

    As for who should play him…I would love to see Keaton…I always thought he should have been the Joker not the Batman. He has that insane laugh and arched eyebrows that captures the comics versions perfectly.

    But Crispin Glover, Guy pierce, Johnny Depp, or as someone mentioned Lewis would be cool too.


    I think that what makes Campea and Nagy better than Maxim, Empire or Rolling Stone writers are more open and honest opinions with no holds barred discussion. Bad grammar doesn´t make somebody more “real”, it only makes them sloppy or careless.

    But I definitely see your point.

  59. The only one that would fit the Joker other than Heath. Would be Johnny Depp because Johnny is just reminds me of the Joker imagine Johnny with a glasgow smile green hair and everything else. They should like make the second movie but at the end of the movie they would show The Joker fooling around and wandering around and just being Joker himself. Johnny Depp would be the best choice as for my opinion I think he would surpass Heath Ledger

  60. I agree it does keep absolute credibility. I’m not completely perfect when it comes to grammar on my page. Something I need to keep an eye on I suppose. In the end though, it’s just fun to read and know that you’re not reading “Joe Superwriter” from Maxim magazine and in fact it’s a real person that is interacting with us no?

  61. I think a lot of you may disagree, but I think that Johnny Depp could end up being a pretty good Joker. I mean, think about the roles he’s been in. He played a guy with scissors for hands, a pirate who looks like a rockstar, and heck, he even played a demon barber. The man could do it, but we’ll see who’ll be picked. That is, if they bring back the Joker for the third installment.


    I agree with pseudo, I think good grammar and spelling should always be kept in check. It adds to the quality of the site. Not that spelling or grammer is a big problem on this site.

    But as for the article I completely agree with it, although I really doubt that the Joker will be a significant part in upcoming Batman films.

  63. people hate when in sequels characters get replaced with different actors. it kind of sours the movie because when you have someone do a terrific job and the next does not, it leaves that bad taste in your mouth if they chose to do another. with ledger and the joker, he did such a good job becoming the character with all the quirks, written and added by ledger, to see him get replaced and have crispin glover try to live up to the bar set by ledger would be a disappointment. just because of ledges untimely death does not warrant re-casting a character who we dont even know would have been in another batman movie. i think we all can agree maggie gyllenhall? did a better job than katie holmes, but that character was not even close to the complex character of the joker. with all this said, we should just leave this discussion alone and leave the character alone and remember the performance for what it was….great.

  64. John, I love your commentary, but please, please, please proofread your stuff. Every time I hit a typo or an improper use of a word (ie, sole instead of soul), it’s a hiccup in the flow of reading. I understand that we can all still extract your meaning behind your words, but if there’s anything you can do about it, do it for the readers?

  65. Thank you. I’m absolutely in love with the Joker and Ledger’s performance, but it would be disrespectful to retire the character. (I’m personally gunning for Harley to play a small part in the third so she can set everything up for Joker to return.)

  66. Daniel Day Lewis’s intro line as The Joker…. “My name is The Joker, and this is my sidekick HQ. I’m a killer seeeee”.. you know… from “there will be blood”……….. All honesty though… totally cool to see DDL as The Joker.. or catwoman

  67. The only way I think they will be able to top this one is if they cast Daniel Day Lewis is the movie..lol no but seriously IF they can top this one I’d like to see it..

  68. any one could be the joker. dont get me wrong Ledger was great he is responsible for creating this joker with Nolan. All the next actor would have to do is keep the make up the same, the craziness, the motions, basically everything Heath did…..only any one can do it. Thats the one thing people will not like is that if someone is choosen to be the joker, you cant change the way the joker acts. but you,ME, whomever does play the joker must give credit to Heath Ledger for laying the “JOKERs” foundation.

  69. john i agree with you, there are good enough actors out there, but heath ledger did such an amazing job, even if someone did just as good, would get as much credit. you guys can argue is much as you want about this, but in my opinion HEATH LEDGER IS THE JOKER

  70. I still think it would be weird and unneeded to recast the Joker for a third film. Yes, it can be done and maybe someone could do better, but still, for me it would be like someone doing another continuation of Silence of the Lambs without Hopkins, sure you could find someone else to maybe do it equally as good, but it still wouldn’t feel or sit right.

  71. In a way your right but I dissagree with most of what you said. Heath’s performance was the main reason Why I saw this movie 3 times and twice on opening day. could somebody do a better job ? I hope we never find out. I doubt if they bring back joker I would be interested in seeing it. Also, before they chose Heath I thought Tim roth would have made a good joker. One last thing, whats with all the guy pearce talk. Tell me, What has he done in the past 5 years that is worth wathing. He did memento which was great, had a small role in L.a. confidental Then what ? The time machine ? I’m not saying he’s not a good actor, but Joker ? yeah right.

  72. This is what I’ve been telling people all along. I love Ledger’s performance and I dare say it’s the best I’ve seen so far for any role…but to say that recasting him would be an insult is insane! The beauty of comic movies is that no matter what happens to the actor, the characters always go on unaffected. In the Batman series, nothing would make me happier than to see Heath Ledger return as The Joker one more time. As sad as it is, that isn’t going to happen. But deleting The Joker from the script just because Heath Ledger died would be like ‘killing’ the character all together. Ledger built the character and set a benchmark for future actors. To take up that challenge and take on the role would be an incredible honor for Ledger and his entire family if I may say so. I say recast The Joker if he indeed has a part in the 3rd movie. Or rather, find a way to bring him back. I’m sure Ledger himself would not have wanted fans to associate the character on screen to his own tragedy. Heath Ledger’s performance will be remembered as long as movies exist, and nothing can change that. If someone plays The Joker better, it won’t be an insult. It will be a real honor.

  73. I actually agree with most of what you have to say, but to say that Heath was a “good but not great actor” seems unfair. You say he was hit or miss, but you have to remember that he died when he was only 28, hardly enough time to really prove himself. Think of ANY actor that you love, and I’m sure I could name a dozen terrible movies that he or she was in. Had Heath lived longer, he would continued to improve, and he probably would have been able to build up a great repertoire.

  74. Joseph Gordon-Levitt could do a good job. I enjoyed his performances in Brick and The Lookout. He’s around the same age as Ledger and he looks quite similar.

    Hmm… Just looked him up on imdb – he’s scheduled to play Cobra Commander in the GI Joe movie. Oh dear.

  75. I think a different actor can play the Joker, just not Legder’s version of him. Much like how we didn’t see Nicholson’s version in Dark Knight.

  76. It is my understanding that The Joker is only supposed to have a small sort of bookend roll in the third film. Nolan shot The Joker’s scene for it already. I believe this to be true because I was working as a security guard during the filming of The Dark Knight and remember a small Arkham Asylum scene with Heath that was not used in The Dark Knight. As for recasting I don’t think that will be necessary unless The Joker is to have a larger role.

  77. They could recast anybody, but I think the fans wouldn’t like it. It could even cause a backlash of apathy towards the next film.

    IMO, Nolan should skip the idea and try to write around Joker with different characters in the next film.

  78. I don’t think the Joker role was that psychopathic in the movie. Heath gave us a powerful performance. Compare the Joker to Hannibal Lecter, Anthony Hopkins was a more psychopath and he did without the makeup.

  79. I think they should bring the Joker back. As there is no greater villain to Batman. He doesn’t have to play as huge a role in the story as he did in “The Dark Knight” but he needs to be a lasting character if they plan to continue making movies. I’m not saying he should go the way Scarecrow did though.

    If you make another Batman movie with Catwoman as the bad guy. The movie will fail. Catwoman is a horrible character if you plan to have her anything but a side character. I don’t mind if she is in the story but they need to do something bigger then Batman catching a female thief who dresses up as a cat. At the moment I can’t think of a decent villain for Batman to combat and still make it believable and fit into Nolans world. The Riddler is the closest thing I guess. The Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Clayface all seem to unbelievable to be a part of the Nolan’s Batman.

    Ultimately I’d like see Either The Joker, The Riddler, or Bane. Bane was not the mindless dolt portrayed in the crappy Batman & Robin film. Bane was quite intelligent in the comics and could make a great story, given he broke Batman’ back and took him out of commission for awhile which then could lead into the Azrael story line which could be a cool story for another movie and possible spin off.

    If they decide to bring back The Joker. I believe Brad Dourif would be great in the role. He’s got a great voice. Plays crazy wonderfully, and could look like Heath’s joker better then anyone in my opinion.

  80. THANK YOU! I been trying to say the same thing to people. I’ve always look at it as how Heath set a template for the Joker for future actors to go off on.

  81. Like many others, I intially thought Ledger was a bad choice for the joker based on what I envisioned his character would be like. I’m glad I was proven wrong, Ledger did an amazing job.
    Personally, I’d like to see the Joker left out of the third and do something a bit different with the film’s nemesis(but not Catwoman). Nothing supernatural…but someone who would leave you with that constant feeling of helplessness and doom that I felt for Gotham during The Dark Knight. A character like the joker but different….if that makes any sense.

    I know a lot of you may disagree but I think Sean Penn is seriously over rated. He is no doubt a decent actor but I don’t see how he gets all the praises that he does. If they did bring the joker back for 3 could he come in and fill the roll as the joker? Sure. Many people could. I’d rather see someone like Brad Dourif do it, or even Guy Pearce. Thus leaving Sean plenty of time to run around and bash the country that’s given him the opportunity to become who he is today.

  82. I found his to be an easily imitated role. If Ledger’s version of the character is actually necessary for the next film, they can just find someone similar and cover him up with make-up. Nobody will be able to tell the difference under that costume. As for acting, I’m already seeing lots of impersonators on YouTube that are pulling off the role just fine.

  83. Physically speaking and with makeup I think you could make Guy Pearce or Daniel Day Lewis look exactly like Heath did as the Joker. I like both choices as both are good actors. Crispin Glover could’ve been a good choice if he had been cast first but casting him to replace Ledger? Nah, I think physically he looks too different.

    Whether either Guy or Daniel can do a reasonable imitation of Ledger’s Joker voice is another question.

    I think if there is to be another Batman directed by Nolan, he should use new villains that we haven’t seen in motion picture form before. If Ledger were still alive I’d probably be open to another story with the Joker but as it stands, I think it’s better to wait until another movie “reboot” before you bring the Joker character back again. I feel the same way about Two Face also. You could conceivably come up with a good follow up story for both villains but The Dark Knight I feel resolved both their stories well. Let’s give some screen time to some new villains.

  84. I don’t have a big problem with a new actor in the Joker role but i don’t want to see it in a 3rd Nolan Batman movie. In my opinion there is 0% chance Nolan would do a recast purely out of respect. You have to remember Ledger died. This is not the same thing say as Val Kilmer refusing to do another Batman film after Batman Forever simply because he didn’t want to.. Also, very few respected actors would touch that part considering all the circumstances involved. I believe we will see the Joker again but not as long as Nolan is in charge of this franchise!

  85. I actually agree with Campea on this one. As bangin’ as Ledger turned it out, there is always someone else better.

    I think a lot of you guys forgot (or just plain didn’t know) that Ledger wasn’t Nolan’s first choice. Sean Penn was. Penn has stated that he declined cos he saw the end result of how Daredevil & X-Men 3 were. “bordering on ludricious & self-parody” is I think the phrase he used. & I don’t blame him. But now we have TDK & Iron Man raising the quality bar, he may reconsider if asked again.

    Hypothetical: Let’s say Nolan & Co decided to base the next one off Frank Miller’s seminal classic The Dark Knight Returns , they age the remaining primary cast & bring Penn onboard as the aged Joker. I can see that man pulling it off in a big way using Ledger’s template & adding his own contributions on top of that very easily. That man is a fucking acting chameleon.

  86. I’d like the Joker to be left out of a third film. Not because of Ledger’s death, but because I just don’t see him carrying another film.

    Ledger was the undisputed star of an uneven but highly entertaining comic book film, but his character has had its day. Another story based on the Joker’s chaotic destruction would be repetitive and probably wouldn’t stand up to The Dark Knight anyway.

    On the contrary, it’d be far more interesting to bring in a new kind of villain, forcing Batman to adopt new strategies and giving the third film an independent flavour. I’m not well-versed enough in the Batman universe to know what you’ve got to choose from, but I’m sure there’s something interesting to bring to the screen.

  87. The best man for the role would be someone humble.
    Someone who understands not to try to beat Ledger’s perfomance. Someone who doesn’t try to take it too far away from “the original”.

  88. Hmmmm I must say Heath Ledger proved me wrong. I thought at first he was a terrible choice but after the first full pics and trailer I was sold. Lots of people had there thought on who could play joker after Legers death. However, I dont feel the need (at least right now) to re-cast the joker for the next film.

    Its a hard thing to think about re-casting the character now. I say if they wanted to bring him back then wait a good while. 3 years is not enough time in my opinion.

    As far as John’s post I have some issues to resolve….

    1. Compairing Ledgers portrail and retiring the character to Michal Jordon ending the NBA is not a fair comparison. It would have been better to compair Heath Ledger and Christopher Reeve as Superman in the level that after Reeve died it was inconcivable to think that someone else could play Superman.

    2. What if Nolan casted someone else? Well you can play the “what if” game all you want it dosnt change the reality of how things turned out. What if Nolan didnt direct ? What if Christan Bale wasnt cast, What if Holms was still Rachel?

    3. Seeing how Ledger’s memorible performance was means that most actors might only try to recreate his performance. Again case in point Superman Returns.

    4. Yea people have there thoughts on diffrent actors can only play a certain character. However, in my estamation its better to be proven wrong then it is to be proven right. I didnt have an idea who could play joker for TDK but I was totally against Ledger then I was proven wrong and it feels good to know that Leger did a great job. Could someone do better? Its possible, but I feel un-likely at this time.

  89. and to think that Guy pearce can be joker,
    hmm perfect choice there ! especially he look a bit like him and he has that style…

  90. OH MY GOSH


    sorry for the caps but let me finish reading…

  91. If, and that is a big IF – for me his storyline in the Nolan vision is done, the Joker was needed in a future installment someone like Daniel Day-Lewis would be an awesome choice.

    No actor is bigger than a character. If that was true there would have only been one actor to play each of the characters in Shakespeare’s plays.

  92. I say the studio should just ignore the public opinnion on this matter, since it’s pretty much a 50-50 situation. While the others are optimistic and open for a new approach from a new actor, for some a new try is an absolute no, because of Ledger’s unique perfomance given in the Dark Knight.

    If the new story really requires Joker’s character, then I say let them go for it and recast the role with some big name. If not, leave him outta the whole movie.

    I personally think he should be left out. Not because of Ledger’s death, but because I don’t see the character serving any dramatic challenge for Batman anymore. Yes, there are hundreds of stories out there with the character, but really… It wouldn’t be all that shocking anymore, now would it?

  93. I’m 100% sure that Two Face is not dead and will be appearing in the third one.
    How his “death” was brushed off with a couple of shots of him in the end made me think that they most likely shipped him to Arkham and buried Harvey Dent since he was no more.

    When the time comes in the future to re-launch the Batman franchise (and you know they will) a new look and a new feel will be implemented and all this worrying will be for naught.

  94. John, I agree 100%… They can replace him with no problem… Especially since there is the whole makeup factor, I mean you get a great actor like Guy Pearce and put the makeup on him, you’ll never know the difference… I’d love to see the Joker again, but there are also a ton of other batman villains that have great stories and were never done right. I would obviously see the next batman movie no matter what, but I don’t know if you can top the Joker and Two-face combo that are in this one…

  95. Ok sooo if The Joker was in the next one ill go along here and say yea he could be replaced because for one the shell is already there… There is a mold to fill and a way to play it because of Ledger, even you John could agree with that i think….

    But on the other hand if there would be another joker in the next Batman flick i think that it could quite possibly draw away from the film because TDK already told the story of the Joker and Batman DID beat him, he was just left hanging around. If the character were to be in the next one i think it could tear away from the progression of the Nolan Batman story…But hell i dont know and neither does anyone else

  96. If the story calls for Joker, you recast him and do the best you can. If they feel like no one can live up to what Ledger did and the story would be better off leaving Joker out, you do that. Whatever they feel best serves the story seems to be the mindset they have had from the beginning of the franchise, hopefully they just stick to that. I trust Nolan and company to make good decisions, even if they seem out of left field at first.

  97. Don’t forget about his performance in “Brothers Grimm” w/ Matt Damon.

    There are a lot of Batman bad guys out there for future films. Potentially, there could be three films before another one w/ the Joker (Riddler/Catwoman/Penguin). Philip Seymour Hoffman would be a make a good Penguin; Crispin Glover would make a great Riddler; Mrs. Brad Pitt would make a great Catwoman. I also do not think that Two-Face is dead (even though I think they over did it a little with the FX there).

  98. @ Brad

    I’ve said almost the same damn thing sir. At first, I dismissed the notion of casting Daniel Day Lewis as just cliche but after I really thought about it, I can see him being, virtually, the only actor that could replace Ledger and nobody would worry about or question it. In fact, i think people would get pretty excited about it.

    I disagree with John that killing Two Face was a waste. I think we got everything we could out of that character and two hours of him killing people and flipping that coin in the next one would get tiresome very quickly. But I do want more Joker. There are a billion more stories you can tell with that character.

  99. John,

    first off I agree with your article 100%, “the voice of reason” should be your new nickname (or perhaps the new slogan for the site:P)

    Secondly I was just curious about something – do you think they will ever be a time in the future where someone else plays The Joker and we will look back at Ledger’s performance as the character like we do with Nicholson’s in Batman 89′? What I mean is we praise Ledger as The Joker and look back at Nicholson’s as inferior; still good and a lot of fun but we put Ledger on a much higher shelf. Do you think we will get to the point where we will say, “Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight was amazing but (example) Crispin Glover is on a whole other level”?

    I was just thinking about it and wanted to get your thoughts.


  100. True, any actor can be replaced for any part, but the real question is… should The Joker be recast? I’d have to say no to that one…. and I’m willing to bet that’s where the Nolan brothers stand on the issue as well.

    If a third film is made(and let’s face it, it’s an almost sure thing) I’d be much more interested to see what Nolan could do with characters such as Black Mask or Talia Al Ghul. I just feel that the place they left the Joker at the end of TDK was a perfect way to conclude the Joker’s storyline. I’ve no need to to see any more stories with that character in this new Batman series. Although, it would be nice if they allude to him having broken out of Arkham at the end of the third film… Giving the series a nice bookend if you will.

  101. Hey John.

    Whether Nolan wanted Joker back for a possible third film, I honestly dont think he’d want to bring him back into his Batman universe under the current circumstances. Yes, you can recast him but I think he stands more to lose by bringing the character back than leaving ledgers performance as the only Nolan appearance.

    As for Dawes I feel it’s different as no-one wanted Katie Holmes to return in the role so he just corrected what was considered the only bad casting in an otherwise solid lineup.

  102. You know where I stand on this. I asked the same question a few days after seeing Dark Knight, because of the Joker character vowing to be the ying to Batman’s yang, so to speak, and the fact that in all the praise for Ledger, the fact was he couldn’t reprise the part should the part be needed, for the sad but obvious reason.

    So while I don’t want to guess who could play The Joker next if he is needed in the next film, and if so, what capacity. It might be a Scarecrow-like cameo for all we know. If I had to, I would say cast an actor who is willing to go uncredited, or, if it is a cameo, Heath’s stunt double and/or stand in. In both cases, it would be someone different playing the character. In any case a new actor playing the role may in fact indirectly aid in the acting of the rest of the cast: some of them may feel uneasy about another actor taking over the role. That unease will show onscreen. Given the idea one would be in the presence of a manipulating, insane ticking human time bomb, such a reaction would not take a person out of the film.

    (Consider that #5, Gio)

    Granted, Ledger’s act will be hard to follow; especially if he is posthumously nom’d for awards, let alone winning them. But I’m also of the opinion that if Joker is needed in the third in the new Bat franchise, recasting (for better or worse) will have to take place and there’s no getting around it.

    I also stand on this: as many folks who would *applaud* the idea that Ledger cannot be replaced, should Joker not be in the next film, there may be an equal amount of others who at least want the character to pop up somewhere because The Joker is a major pop culture character and Batman’s main nemesis. So it is a double edged sword. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    Which reminds me : there is that little ditty called “Gotham Knight”, a series of animated shorts that is suggested to take place between the end of ‘Batman Begins’ and the start of ‘The Dark Knight’. If folks are so darn worried about Ledger being replaced; let’s suggest this: an animated Joker story or two before the next live action film to explain why Joker isn’t there. The irony here is that if Mark Hamill did the Joker voice it would be neat; if he didn’t, folks would raise hell, because “only” Mark Hamill could voice the Joker.


  103. Hey Pineapplehead,

    I’m not saying I disagree with your main point about story. Like I said in the article… IF THE STORY CALLS FOR THE JOKER.

    But… I have to poke at you a little for this:

    “…having a new actor come in to a world where everyone would be the same except one character would be more of a distraction than anything.”

    Didn’t they just do that with The Dark Knight and Rachel Dawes?

  104. I don’t personally see any need to have the Joker Return. His story has been given the treatment it deserved. Maybe if Ledger was alive then they could have had a cameo in a new film but having a new actor come in to a world where everyone would be the same except one character would be more of a distraction than anything.

  105. I agree wholeheartedly with your article John. Hopefully if there is a next Joker, he doesn’t go off and die so he can actually get the praise he deserves O.o

  106. If they did The Joker again, they’d really have to make sure he did a better or at least equal performance to the one Ledger gave to the role. Anything less would be a mistake and a slight to the character he worked so hard toe elevate.

  107. …also note that I disagree with the fact Two Face is dead, and that the funeral was for Harvey Dent (as something else has taken the mixed up and broken body of the former “White Knight of Gotham”)…see…I’m not someone who falls in line ;-)

  108. I have to completely agree.

    I found Ledger’s Joker to be an amazing display, and a GREAT portayal of an ‘on-screen joker’ (note that I agree also with the FACT that you previously stated that the joker was needed to be ‘altered’ in order to present a live action version of him to fit into Nolan’s world).

    But I also believe that if it fits with the story, that the Joker should return. I also believe that if Ledger was able to have his say from beyond the grave, he would want someone to continue the amazing image he left us with of the Joker.

    There are some amazing actors out there, that can alter and shift the Joker into Nolan’s next vision of the Batman world, but like Ledger, still pay homage to the (twisted) vision these actors before them put on a character before them.

    If it fits with the story, get a great actor, and have them pay homage to Nicholson and Ledger for thier portayal, but hopefully they can bring something new, and eye catching, to the role of the Joker, who is such a rich, and strong influence in the Batman/Gotham world!

  109. Well said, I agree. I especially agree with the point you make that this new Joker (compared to Jack Nicholsons’s old) is as much Nolans work (both of them) as Ledger’s.

    BTW, its Guy Pearce not Pierce

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