'The Dark Knight Rises' is now out on DVD but with all respect to the final part of Nolan's trilogy and Bane there can only be one real film and villain. 'The Dark Knight' and the late, great Heath Ledger's Joker.
In Loving Memory.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk have recently assembled some record breaking box-office returns for 'The Avengers' and in what looks like to be arguably the greatest year of comic-book, superhero movies ever (just wait however), a rebooted 'Spiderman' is set to spin a new web this sensational to be, scorching Summer. Still despite all the hype and buzz of Stan Lee's greatest heroes you have to look to D.C. for the most anticipated movie of the year to marvel at.
With a combination of three trailers that have revealed a little bit more with each tease and an otherwise almost non-existent and therefore intriguing marketing campaign 'The Dark Knight Rises' coming July 20Th is the film of the year that everyone really can't wait for. From the intimidating and influential presence of Tom Hardy's big and bold portrayal of Bane, to the incredible 'Inception' cast reuniting and Anne Hathaway's Catwoman being let out the bag, the latest in the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale 'Batman' saga looks set to follow cinemas greatest sequel of all time. Set to compliment the other two classics by making this stellar series right there with 'Lord Of The Rings', 'Star Wars' and 'The Godfather' as one of the greatest trilogy's of all-time.
After 'Batman Begins' re-energised and heated up a franchise that was dying off in the ice cold, Mr. Freeze corniness of 'Batman & Robin', fans just want to know how 'The Dark Knight' legend ends. A legend whose legacy lasts due in most part to the last iconic movie and its ultimate star. As good as Bane is and as great as he's set to be in this movie, something tells us that when this trilogy goes down in history someone else will have the last laugh. Nobody beats the Joker. Let's not forget what took this franchise from favorite to formidable.
I still miss Heath Ledger.
Four years is a long time. Almost half a decade's gone, but the feelings are still raw. To say Tom Hardy's Bane probably won't beat Heath Ledger's Joker is unfair, especially since we haven't seen the final product. A final product that really does look to be almost as iconic and the closest you could probably get to Batman's greatest villain. Still that's just how good Heath Ledger's Joker was. It was beyond the character itself. A redefinition of a cult character that changed everything. Let's not forget or ignore with all due respect that when Heath was originally named as the Joker fans were far from perfectly pleased like when they saw what his portrayal produced in the end. "NOT that 'Brokeback Mountain' guy" they cried. "Jack Nicholson is the ONLY Joker". There more than a sense that this casting was far from right. Just how wrong the doubters where.
All these things where said let's not forget, but then after the first trailer and the sound of that voice and that laugh people started to listen. Then after people finally saw the darkly made up purple reigning anti-hero after the second trailer, there where no more second thoughts and it wasn't just out of respect at the then recent and rawness of the tragic news. Before the final trailer everyone's mind was made up. When arguably the most eagerly anticipated films of all times rolled through projectors worldwide it was over. Sorry Jack. Here's the real Joker. Nobody has ever defied and re-defined a legend and it'll take something far greater to do it again.
Modern movies deserved a better class of criminal and Heath Ledger gave it to them. From the self-made make up, applied in patchy perfection to telling stories of how he got those scars, this part Jack/part 'Clockwork Orange'/punk rock inspired Joker was sinisterly superb, a great bad guy, a perfect nemesis. The formidable foil to the Bat was taken off the comic-book pages and brought to life with a dark vitality and enthusiastically with a certain charm that took this callous character and gave it charisma that left even the geekiest Bruce Wayne fans rooting for him. From a well-worked bank job that revealed the mask behind the mask, to pencil tricks which drew guilty laughs, with a conviction and a now iconic cold, chuckle and cackle Heath Ledger redefined a character and flipped the script on a classic story.
He made it his own. Invited himself into the role until we where all welcome to appreciate how he really crafted a classic. He really was our entertainment, crashing parties with a shotgun and daring 'Batman' to "HIT ME"! From flipping the usual routine of a good/cop bad cop interrogation scene (all of Batman's strength couldn't do anything compared to the Joker's mental problems) to his corrupting bedside manner and hospital guise with Two Face, he really showed both signs of the character complexity coin. Showing that whether hands on or playing mind games the Joker had more than one or two tricks up his sleeve. Stealing every scene he was in and making viewers wish he was in everyone he wasn't, Ledger's Joker made 'The Dark Knight' his. From locking himself into a hotel room to perfect his character to getting deep into the psyche of a psychologically thrilling villain Heath's Joker truly deserved the posthumous Oscar and the outstanding 30 other awards that followed for more than tributes sake.
He straight scared Michael Caine, took the shine off Christian Bale and took a classic character and made it something more. From the "cheap purple suit" to the slicked down green hair Heath more than looked the part...he owned it. Like the iconic scene of the Joker hanging slyly and coolly out a getaway Police car (which would have been a fitting last image of the Joker) every move, gesture and sentence was a classic. Jack Nicholson may have paved the way with his own iconic performance, but Heath Ledger took his legacy down the road and spun it in a whole new direction. Can you even imagine Steve Carrell and Robin Williams where in the running to take the Joker wheel (no offence)? Now not even a former rumored Johnny Depp and all his excellent eccentric performances could step into the Joker's pointed shoes or ever replace(although he, Jude Law and Colin Farrell did a fine, beautifully respectful job of finishing Heath's great character on the inventive 'The Imagenerium Of Doctor Pannesus' by Terry Gilliam). Decades and generations could pass with different takes on the clown, but none could possibly be taken to with smiles and laughs like the definitive performance.
Heath Ledger has many classic performances in his filmography. From becoming a heartthrob in '10 Things I Hate About You' to becoming a star in 'A Knights Tale'. Or from bringing brave beauty and dutiful depth to what shouldn't be a controversial subject on 'Brokeback Mountain' with Jake Gyllenhal to capturing a part of cult icon Bob Dylan in the inventive, inspired 'I'm Not There'. Going from more than just another "pretty boy" tag like Brad Pitt, Leo DiCaprio and Josh Hartnett to showing he was a real, bonafide actor, bolder and better than the rest, just like the aforementioned. From 'The Patriot' to 'Monsters Ball' in his life Ledger became more than just an icon in Australia like the late, legendary Michael Hutchence of top band INXS. He even showed a directors eye in the beautiful video of great singer Ben Harper's beautiful 'Morning Yearning' song. Close friend Ben returned the favor by writing a lovely lullaby for Ledger's daughter called 'Happy Ever After In Your Eyes'. Now that's art imitating life's loyalty and friendship. What a guy he really was.
Still all these amazing accomplishments are awe-struck in comparison to Heath's last and legacy making role. The Joker performance holds much more resonance and it's beyond the emotional. Some may worship late celebrities more than the living for whatever reason but Heath's performance is the thing of legend regardless of his tragic circumstances and it should be respected as such. Its a real shame one of the Joker's last lines ("I think you and I (Batman) are destined to do this forever") didn't come true. It's a real shame we can't see Heath Ledger's Joker in this sequel, or the more incredible performances Ledger would have added to his legend if he was still here but more important its just too tragic that the man himself isn't here. Beyond the fame and fans for his family and friends words cant justify the loss, but like the circumstances of his death that is his business not ours. When it comes down to his life in movies however for us we witnessed one of the greatest, most perfect performers of modern and all times. With his signature, 'Why So Serious' Academy winning role Heath blessed us with a classic that made us smile more even through the tragic times.
There will never be another individual like him. With all due respect when it comes to the Joker, Heath Ledger should have the last laugh.