David S. Goyer reveals if the Joker was ever in any draft of the script for The Dark Knight Rises and how he could have impacted the story.
David S. Goyer reveals if and how the Joker could have factored into The Dark Knight Rises. Just recently celebrating the nine-year anniversary of its release, The Dark Knight Rises was the final chapter in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. The film was often in the shadow of its 2008 predecessor, The Dark Knight, in no small part due to Heath Ledger’s Academy Award-winning performance as the Joker.
Heath Ledger tragically passed away on January 22, 2008, at the age of 28, just six months away from the release of The Dark Knight. Ledger had filmed all of his scenes for the film, and no additional reshoot material was required to complete it and was released to critical and audience praise. As soon as The Dark Knight was released, and the inevitability of a third film was approached, many conversations were had on what to do about the Joker’s character, given that he was captured at the end of The Dark Knight. Nolan opted not to mention the Joker at all in the final film out of respect for Ledger, and no unused footage of Ledger was ever considered to be used.
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Goyer, who wrote the screenplay for Batman Begins and has a story credit for both The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, says that the Joker wasn’t in any sequel plans because Nolan didn’t want to set up something for a sequel that may not happen. In an interview with THR, Goyer discussed the process of how Nolan crafts the films as individual standalone pieces. Goyer did say that the Joker being released from Arkham Asylum by Bane is an interesting idea to think about and could have impacted the film. Goyer said:
“Obviously, that would have completely changed the polarity of the third film. And it’s true we didn’t discuss the third film until two or three months after The Dark Knight had come out. Chris wasn’t interested [in discussing] what might happen in the next film. He always wanted to focus on the film in hand. He didn’t want to lay any groundwork for something that may or may not happen. But it’s a logical assumption that the Joker would have been released, and it’s certainly interesting to think of what would have happened if we had done that.”
Nolan has spoken before on wanting each film to stand on its own and why Harvey Dent’s story as Two-Face was included in The Dark Knight instead of being held off for a sequel. Even the Joker card reveal at the end of Batman Begins was less setting up a sequel and more playing on the wider mythos of Batman and the iconography that this version of Batman, like all of them, will fight his own Joker. Joker’s line to Batman at the end of The Dark Knight about how they are destined to do this forever is more a meta-commentary on the two characters in the franchise. Across the various comics, films, and television series Batman and the Joker will always be locked in a constant battle. When a Batman appears, a Joker will pop up, and when a Joker arrives, a Batman will not be far behind.
Ledger himself wanted to reprise his role as the Joker. Given that Scarecrow returned at the beginning of The Dark Knight, it is safe to say that had Ledger not tragically passed away, the Joker would have factored into the storyline for The Dark Knight Rises somehow, but if it would have been the same story with Bane, Catwoman and Talia is not as clear. Scarecrow and the Joker showed that the Gotham City in the Nolan films was beginning to morph into the Gotham in the comics, with a rogues gallery that would return to attack Gotham. Thinking of how Bane would deal with the Joker or a scene between Hathaway’s Catwoman and Ledger’s Joker will be something that remains what could have been in the thoughts and minds of audience members for years to come. However, even though he is gone, Ledger will never be forgotten and his Joker still casts a big shadow.
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About The Author
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Richard Fink is a news writer for Screen Rant. He graduated from Arizona State University in 2016 with a degree in Film and Media Production. He loves the finer things in life, like cold Diet Coke on a hot summer day. Richard is a fan of all things Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and Film History.
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