If you will indulge me for a moment, this blog is about to live up to its name.
As some of you might be aware, one of my absolute favoritest movies of 2005 was Batman Begins. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that it ends with a little tease about what might be coming next in this new series of films. Since then, the nerdverse has been aflame with speculation regarding the Big Question of the new era:
Who will play the Joker?
Many names were floated around with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Names like Paul Bettany, Crispin Glover and Lachy Hulme appeared in almost every post on the subject. Sam Rockwell showed up occasionally, as did Adrian Brody. My personal favorite suggestion was Christopher Eccleston, although that idea never seemed to catch on. Not that it matters. Christopher Nolan, the director of both Begins and the upcoming, untitled sequel, seems to have hit all of us nerds with a surprise jab by casting a well-known actor whose name was somehow left out of all the speculation.
It appears that the Joker will be played by Heath Ledger.
My first reaction upon learning this news was (and I quote), “Huh.” Note that I did not say, “Huh?” It wasn’t a question. I was just a little surprised, is all. The reaction from other fans across the internet seem to range from puzzled to appalled. After some consideration, however, I have decided to treat this casting choice as good news. Here’s why.
First of all, Mr. Ledger is a pretty good actor. I haven’t seen Brokeback Mountain, but whether people liked it or not everyone seems to agree that his performance is quite good. I didn’t know much about Ledger before I saw him in Monster’s Ball. Before I saw that movie I had written Ledger off as another one of those teen heartthrob types who would disappear after he could no longer believeably play a high school student. His turn as Billy Bob Thornton’s son in Monster’s Ball made me think there was more to him.
Second, if Nolan had cast anyone on the fans’ short list, we would have known without ever seeing the movie what the Joker was going to be like. I can honestly say now that I have no idea what to expect from the next movie. And that makes me more excited to see it. I mean, Nolan gambled a little on the first film, casting Gary Oldman as Gordon. Not that Oldman is a bad actor (’cause he sure as hell ain’t), but he was definitely a left-field choice. And it worked out great.
In conclusion, I enjoy having things like upcoming Batman movies to distract me from current events. Now I’m gonna go spend twenty minutes wondering who would win in a fight, Christian Bale or Brandon Routh? I’m gonna go with Christian, I think. But that Brandon is pretty damn tall.
I guess my question is why are they already making another movie about the Joker? Jack Nicholson’s Joker is still etched in my brain. We hadn’t seen the Batman genesis on film, but we saw the Joker’s genesis fairly recently in movie terms. Don’t get me wrong — I think Heath Ledger is a fantastic actor, and Batman Begins was the Batman movie of all of the Batman movies. But do we need another Joker movie?
Since we essentially have a new Batman, which exists in an entirely different universe than the Burton/Schumacher Batmans, and since the Joker is the ultimate Batman villain, then I would say yes we do need another Joker movie.
One of my issues with the first round of Batman movies was the way each movie brought up a villian (or villians), let Batman deal with them, then set them aside forever. The ongoing relationship between Batman and the Joker was something that always fascinated me in the comic books, and if there is a way to show that in the films (i.e., by not killing the Joker off right away) then I think we as an audience will be treated to something new from the Batman film franchise.
One of the first “calling it outs” I did of casting was I guessed they would cast Danny DeVito as the Penguin when I was a teenager and I got it right.
I’m guessing that one too, just because I like my odds of getting it right via my amazing intuition.
I’m guessing Dick Cheney.
Yes. Brandon Routh is tall. And strong. But Christian Bale only gives up a few inches. And he’s strong also. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if Bale completely defeats Routh, only that he hurts him and proves to him that though we are but men, we are still men. And no matter what power or righteousness Routh may possess, he is still an alien. And this is still Bale’s planet. And we are still Bale’s people.