'Batman': Heath Ledger as the Joker?!

95341__heath_l_1Can I get a "Holy casting against type, Batman"?

Chris Nolan, sire of the sober, psychological Batman Begins and its 2008-slated sequel The Dark Knight, is taking his theory of Bat-realism to the next level: He’s made Heath Ledger his Joker. The choice is hardly intuitive, which is part of what makes it so darned interesting. Was this news released under cover of Gibson to staunch the expected fan kerfuffle? If so, it’s not going to work. Debates will rage.

Hardcore Bat aficionados enjoyed but never accepted Jack Nicholson’s flubbery demon yuppie; they much preferred the Mark Hamill-voiced animated version, which hewed closer to the comic book character.

Ledger will likely take an entirely different approach — perhaps something of his Knight’s Tale theatricality, coupled with his Brokeback brooding and just a pinch of Casanova (where he proves he’s adept at eluding men in black cloaks). In all seriousness, there will be much seriousness: The Joker, toxically clownified or no, will have some sort of deep, real hurt to nurse, if Nolan holds with the mood he established in Begins.

But, wow, with Philip Seymour Hoffman rumored to be Nolan’s (as yet reluctant) pick for The Penguin, will there really be any room for another villain? I can feel a showdown coming in the air tonight. Oh, Lord. Oh, Lord.

addCredit(“Heath Ledger: Donald Weber/ Getty Images”)


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  • Heather

    Prior to Brokeback Mountain I would have dismissed Heath, mainly for the movies he’s chosen and the fact that they really didn’t stretch him. Of course Brokeback makes it all more interesting, because he has proven that he can delve down deep into a character and really grasp what it’s about. And if he can bring that intensity opposite Bale, well, then we’re onto something magical.

  • bridget

    I think Heath is a fine choice. He can play fun (Knight’s Tale), serious (Brokeback Mountain) or just off the wall (Lords of Dogtown) with no problem.
    Bring it!

  • C

    Aw, he’ll be great. Lately, he doesn’t seem like he would take on a project unless he felt he could give it his all. Plus he’s a poppa now so I’m sure that’s one of the reasons why he is taking on a comic book themed movie.

  • Joel

    Not a fan of this casting, but I’ll give Nolan the benefit of the doubt for now. Still, not the greatest news for the Bat franchise, but I hope I’m wrong. PSH as the Penguin could be genius.

  • Marnie

    I think that if Heath just playsa the Joker like he played in “10 Things I Hate About You” (remember, the singing, the bleechers, the grin)he’ll do just fine!

  • BarryDubya

    Check out his IMDB cover photo: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005132/
    Paint some clown makeup on him and he’s the Joker. I think Ledger will do a great job!

  • nate

    Awesome choice, I’m glad it didn’t end up being Robin Williams, that could have been REAL hammy, and with Hoffman as the Penguin, HOLY CAN’T WAIT TO SEE IT, BATMAN!!!

  • EP Sato

    I thought he was great in “10 things I hate about you” and will be happy to root against him. Still, it does seem a bit Anti-Nolan to cast such a big actor in the role. When you’ve got brooding actors like Christian Bale and Gary Oldman as the protagonists, a Joe Pantoliano or Guy Pearce as the Joker would have been aces.

  • MollyGood

    Morning Mess: Lachey is still someone’s packhorse

    • Nick Lachey dreams about the day that he doesn’t have to carry some chick’s bag for her. [PopSugar] • Someone please keep Heidi Klum full of Seal puppies; she’s the most adorable pregnant lady ever. [I’m Not Obsessed]…

  • Levente

    Let me say this upfront- my first exposure to Batman was the movie with Micheal Keaton and Jack Nicholson (which I freaking loved!). Jack’s Joker is what I identify that character with because I never read the comic books and the movie came out when I was young. To me, it will be hard to see Heath in that character because I liked J.N. so much! He even frightened me!! I HOPE Heath does a good job. He is a talented actor. As long as they bring Christian Bale back (whom I’ve loved since Newsies), then they could cast Keanu Reeves as the Joker… wait, I took that a little too far. Sorry, I’ve been drinking.

  • Miles

    YES! YES! YES! what a fantastically natural choice. After his Oscar Winning Turn in Brokeback Mountain (which made me cry and I’m straight!) I think Mr. Ledger can play anything, and he deserves a career full of artistic subtlety and over the top action, he deserves the academy’s attention and the box office downpour. Nicholson played joker YES, but Mr. Ledger is going to own it.

  • Miles

    PS: I made the mistake of saying Oscar Winning turn, knowing that he did not win… but hey, he won it in my heart and that’s good enough for me.

  • Anna

    The more I think about it, I don’t think it’s a bad choice. I’m one of those that think the cartoon series was vastly superior to the movies. I’m glad Nolan has decided not to go the “crazy, wacky clown” route like Burton did.
    BTW, EP Sato, I don’t think Heath can be considered a big name star just yet. Except for Brokeback and possibly 10 things, his films have all flopped. If he can pull this off, this will be a good next step to becoming a “star.”

  • GT

    I think this could work, I am not 100% sure but it sounds interesting. Ledger seems to be the kind of actor who would not try and steal the show and make it all about him like Jack did. Plus if they get the homicidal maniac aspect of the Joker right it could be awesome. And I totally agree with Nate about casting of Robin Williams as the Joker, good god that would be awful.
    But if Hoffman is going to be the Penguin my question is who where is two face. I thought Harvey Dent was going to be featured in 2 and then two-face shows up in three. Although if Penguin is a background character who pretends to be legit it could be good especially if he owns the Iceberg Lounge.

  • brandonk

    We’ll see. I like Heath Ledger’s work, but I’m not convinced he’ll be a good Joker. Sean Penn or Paul Bettany, two actors who were earlier mentioned as Joker, seem to me to be better choices.

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