A large part of what made Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight so alluring was his enigmatic origins. But, according to screenwriter David S. Goyer, this was an element of the character that received a lot of push-back from studio heads, with Warner Bros. preferring that the character be given a more definitive story, and specifically, a clear-cut origin.
“I do remember when we were talking about, ‘Well what if the Joker doesn’t really have an origin story?’ Even after the success of Batman Begins that was considered a very controversial thing and we got a lot of push-back. People were worried.”
According to Goyer, there was a lot of worry surrounding the idea of making the Joker’s beginnings a mystery, with the studio unsure how well this would play with audiences. At the time, the most popular depiction of the Batman villain, namely Jack Nicholson’s performance in 1989, was given an origin story that tied into that of Bruce Wayne and trying something different with the character gave Warner Bros. cold feet.
The origin of Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight is never made clear, with the villain offering several different versions of how he got his infamous scars, with the various stories becoming one of the highlights of the movie. His haunting tales include an abusive father and a wife who is disfigured by loan sharks which leads the Joker to scar himself in solidarity. Both stories would be fitting origins for the character, but the fact that it could be one of them, partly both, or even neither of them, adds to the Joker’s chaotic charm and mysterious allure.
Thankfully, the studio allowed Goyer and director Christopher Nolan to do what they wanted to with the Batman character, leading to the movie’s resounding success and Ledger’s posthumous Academy award victory.
The latest live-action big screen incarnation of the character was featured in Todd Phillips’ award-winning 2019 movie Joker, which starred Joaquin Pheonix as the titular villain. Acting as a counterpoint to The Dark Knight, Joker is all about the character’s beginnings, following failed comedian Arthur Fleck as he seeks out a connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind we all know and love.
As for the Joker’s archenemy, The Batman, director Matt Reeves’ take on the DC icon is due to return to filming in the UK soon. Though there are currently very few specific details regarding the plot, Reeves did reveal some time ago that the movie will take place around two years into the eponymous protagonist’s crime-fighting career and highlights Bruce Wayne’s detective skills, which have rarely been featured in past movies. Directed and co-written by Matt Reeves, The Batman stars Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Jayme Lawson and Peter Sarsgaard. The movie arrives in theaters Oct. 1, 2021. This comes to us courtesy of Comic-Con International official YouTube channel.