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After Heath Ledger died, controversy surrounding 2008′s The Dark Knight led to an onslaught of publicity, as well as a posthumous Oscar win for Ledger and the title, according to millions of fanboys across the world, as the greatest comic-book movie film ever. Sure, credit is due to Nolan, but it was Ledger’s virtuoso performance that made the film.

His performance was so great it seemed appropriate that Christopher Nolan would exclude the character from The Dark Knight Rises - but as fans who have watched the movie know, he wasn’t even mentioned once. (Minor spoiler) They only mention “Harvey Dent’s fall” between those few who know of it (a.k.a. Joker turns him into Two-Face, screws him mentally, causes him to hold Gordon’s kid at gunpoint and shoot himself).

It’s obvious that Nolan kept Joker out of the movie out of respect to Ledger, but the lack of mention comes out more of an insult to the character. I mean, look at Joker’s impact on Gotham. He blew up a hospital, nearly killed two ships full of people, took over the mob, and indirectly caused the Batman to go into hiding – doesn’t that deserve some kind of nod?

Whatever happened to the Joker?

As NuketheFridge points out in this article, Joker is either in Arkham Asylum… or has escaped.

The official 415-page novelization of The Dark Knight Rises, written by Greg Cox, was released yesterday. Considering that this is, well, the “official” novelization, we can conclude that this is the official word to the whereabouts of Joker. This excerpt gives an explanation:

“Now that the Dent Act had made it all but impossible for the city’s criminals to cop an insanity plea, it [Blackgate Prison] had replaced Arkham Asylum as the preferred location for imprisoning both convicted and suspected felons. The worst of the worst were sent here, except for the Joker, who, rumor had it, was locked away as Arkham’s sole remaining inmate. Or perhaps he had escaped. Nobody was really sure. Not even Selina.”

Nuke had this to say:

“From a historical standpoint, Adolf Hitler’s Deputy Leader of the Nazi Party Rudolph Hess was convicted and sentenced to life in Spandau Prison on Oct. 1, 1946. He was the sole occupant from 1966 until his apparent suicide in 1987. By applying this form of punishment to Nolan’s Joker, there would be no one to talk to or play with. Thus, driving the ‘Man Who Laughs’ into further depths of his madness.”

In the movie it is mentioned that Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) spent time at Blackgate Prison (although breaks out of it) and would have an opportunity to find out about other inmates – the Joker included. Considering she lives off of what information – or pearl necklaces – she can steal, this would seem likely.

Is this a suitable explanation for you?

This article was written by a Hypable user! Learn more and write your own right here.

  • Me

    I’m fine with the idea that he is there but if he escaped would he not be trying to destroy Gotham?

    • The507thDoctor

       I think Bane would be worried about Joker taking over Gotham so he probably chose to keep him locked up in Arkham.

      • Me

        Yeah but if he escaped before Bane came around (it WAS eight years after all), then he must’ve been planning. I suspect he’s just there. And completely insane.

  • http://twitter.com/CassiopeiaDrake Cassie Drake

    I think Cillian Murphy’s appearance as The Scarecrow was originally supposed to be The Joker. The lines and the delivery seemed reminiscent of him, although with slightly less wisecracks. Anyone else think this?

    • Me

      I agree, though I also feel like we would’ve seen more of him. Though he would’ve stolen the whole movie so… Not sure.

      • DP

        I have to disagree with this, I don’t see the Joker being a judge of Gotham under Bane’s rule. The Joker was all about chaos and anarchy; he didn’t care about ruling Gotham in any shape or form, he just wanted to destroy it. Obviously the judge system in The Dark Knight Rises bears no ressemble to justice and is totally corrupt, but I think any form of organization is completely alien to the Joker. 

        • Liderc

          Agreed. Joker wouldn’t want to be a judge, even an insane corrupt one. He wanted anarchy, chaos, not any sort of order. The last thing he’d want to be is in a court room, he’d rather be fighting batman hanging off the side of a building. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306356920 Kevin Ryan

      I Disagree. Nolan and comp hadn’t even started on the script for “The Dark Knight Rises” Until Heath died. So, He defiantly didn’t write that scene for The Joker. 

      • Liderc

        This isn’t exactly true. According to Nolan TDKR script was being worked out (in story) during Batman Begins. 

        • Jason

          Not true. Maybe he had a very vague idea. But in the TDK screenplay with the interview with Nolan he stated that he didn’t even want to return to the franchise after TDK and would only do so if he came up with a good idea- he said that he came up with that rough idea a year afterwards. 

  • Arial_29

    Who cares?

  • DP

    I’ve heard multiple things…that if Heath hadn’t passed away the Joker would have been the central character, he would have had a small role, or would have been mentioned. I feel like all we really know is that he wasn’t mentioned by Chris Nolan out of respect for Heath’s memory. I personally didn’t see it as an “insult”. 

  • Sarah

    I think it would have been cool to see the outside of the cell with a joker card hanging from the bars, or something like that. It would have been an acknowledgement to Ledger while at the same time not dragging the character into the story. It seems to me it would almost have been more respectful to mention the Joker as a tribute to Ledger.

    • Liderc

      This would have been an amazing way to put him in the film and have the audience cheer for his character and acknowledge him. I’ve always been against forcing him into the final film due to his death, but you’ve won me over with this idea. 

      As to this article, I don’t think it was an insult at all not to mention him. Chris Nolan probably looked at this 1000x and said, hey out of respect to his family and him, I’m not going to use his character again in my films. And I think I’m okay with that, would it have been nice? Yes. Is it an insult to leave him out? Definitely not and don’t think Chris Nolan didn’t put a ton of time thinking about the best way to deal with this.

    • kateeeee

      i likethis idea! instead of having the axtually character but instead the joker card

  • http://twitter.com/ClaudioCatino CCMASTER_01

    I have a feeling he would’ve escaped. Besides, he already escaped once.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1534802836 Kaley Eidson

     Did Harley (if she even exists) break him out on a boat like in Arkham Asylum?

  • TheHamburglar

    “the lack of mention comes out more of an insult to the character”
    COMPLETELY hated this. We are dealing with people’s lives here, and you are more worried about an insult to a character? I agree with what Nolan did 110%. People seem to forget that the Joker has been linked to Ledger’s death since it was first reported. It was HUGE on the news when the news broke…hell, its probably why The Dark Knight overacheived its initial estimates at the box office. As such, it would’ve been a bigger insult to mention the Joker at all.

    • Shelby Walker

       I disagree with this. While I’m glad that Nolan never replaced him or never used extra footage, I think not mentioning Batman’s greatest villain is diminishing the importance of the character and the performances by the actors who have played him. It is widely known that Jack Nicholson was appalled that Ledger chose to play the Joker… he had experienced terrible things during his incarnation of the character. But that doesn’t mean that it is an insult to Ledger to mention the character he played. Yes, it might’ve been a huge factor in his tragic death, but it is also one of his most celebrated roles (besides his performance in Brokeback Mountain).

      However, it wasn’t an insult to the character not to mention him… but I think it was a little messed up when the Joker is the major antagonist in the Batman universe, and a highly loved character. I think that’s the point this article was trying to make.

      • TheHamburglar

        In a vacuum, I would most definitely agree with you. However, the relationship Nolan had with Ledger just can’t be ignored. The point I was trying to make (I realize now it was not as clear) was that respect should be given to actual people before fictional characters.

        • Shelby Walker

          I get that… But I don’t see how mentioning a character is disrespectful to the actor. That’s like saying Ledger winning the Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker was disrespectful. His portrayal and the character he played were phenomenal. I think it would’ve been more of an insult to recast the Joker after Ledger’s death. Mentioning a character isn’t insulting or disrespectful.

          I know they were close and Ledger’s death was tragic (I was devastated to find about it), but I just don’t understand the feelings with regards to not mentioning a character…

  • Vencesiram

    smh If nolan plans on saying that “The Joker Just spent his final days lockd away in arkham” ill be mad AF!!!! bc its the joker he eventualy brakes out sooner or latter! no matter what with harly true fans should know that. and nolan disrispects the character like if he dosent has another trick under his sleve

  • Austin

    I don’t think it really matters that he wasn’t in the new movie. The Dark Knight Rises was supposedly the beginning of a new era for Gotham City, so why talk about the past? I also do like that it was out of respect for Ledger.

  • Andrew_ww

    I don’t see how not mentioning the Joker shows respect for Ledger at all. If anything, the opposite would show more respect.

    I don’t mind that he wasn’t mentioned though.

  • Bem

    I actually found the lack of any mention of the Joker to be a real disservice to the fans and the legacy of Heath Ledger. This role was iconic and while it is surrounded by tragedy the character deserved to be acknowledged in some form during the movie. I don’t think it would it have been so hard or wrong to simply have Bruce say something along the lines of “The Joker has been locked up in Arkham now for eight years, my job as Batman is done.” I think it would have been easy and a nice way of showing that the Joker was truly Batman’s greatest foe.
    If they really wanted to go out on a limb, they could have had something really crazy and had Miranda/Talia say something like “Didn’t you ever wonder how the Joker got his scars? I used this knife” as she cuts into Batman. But I guess that destroys some of the Joker’s mystery. 
    Either way, I would love for Nolan to reveal what he originally had planned for TDKR had Heath been alive and how the story would have played out. I’ve imagine it would be similar to the final film, just replace Bane/Talia with the Joker.

  • Crazy-Eight

    Yes, I liked the fact that they didn’t put in an “official official” reason to the Joker’s absence. That way, it doesn’t disappoint the fans, and bcause that’s where Joker ended up anyway based on the comics and the tv series The Batman.

  • http://twitter.com/dreamfall31 Kevin Slechta

    Mentioning him would bring up the question of why isn’t he present in all the events that happen in TDKR.  I know that he isn’t in the film because Nolan didn’t want anyone to fill the role Ledger did so well.  But as far as the universe and canon go, no matter what happened to him (except death), he would probably be part of the events that happen in the film.  So not mentioning him was perfectly fine and in no way disrespectful.   Much like his origins, his end is also a mystery.

  • kateeeee

    i kinda of agree, like they should have mentioned the joker, but you also have to remember this is EIGHT years later from the joker and harvey dent.

    also i agree with not showing old footage from the movie, i find that kind of cheesy sometimes. but a few mentioning of the joker i would of have been happy with.
    but none of us cannot deny that heath ledger was the best joker ever. and no one from out era or who saw the movie will never forget that. but heath playing the joker is also tied to his death, so in some ways its a good way the didnt mention anything. if you think about it that way.

    • kateeeee

      too add on, i agreee with sarah’s comment about having the joker card somewhere in the film. but that also might confuse some people who arent fully aware of the comics.and would think he would be in the next film kinda of what they did in the first movie, batman begins at the end of the film they had the joker card. and we all knew he was going to be in the next film. so adding that in there may lead people to believe, because there are already rumors ovf another film, that they may replace heath

  • Tical077

    Joker is had his chance at anarchy and now it’s Banes turn…They all want the same thing…”Some men just want to see the world burn” REMEMBER?? Joker could be kicking back having a beer enjoying the sight of Gotham burning before his eyes thanks to Bane…Get over Joker not being in the movie…NOT A BIG DEAL!

  • erinadrienne

    The problem is the 8 year time gap. I have a hard time believing The Joker would sit in either Arkahm or Blackgate for 8 years. He would get bored! My guess is he broke out. And once he realized Batman wasn’t around in Gotham he left to terrorize someone else. Giving us no reason to talk about him in tdkr. But I would have liked at least a mention. Just on the news or something. Just like “the worst massacre in Gotham since 8 years ago when The Joker terrorized the city.” Blah blah blah. 

  • Joshua Redwine

    Nolan handled the issue perfectly. Both in terms of respect for heath ledger and in general composition of the films narrative, leaving out the Joker was a necessity. It doesn’t matter what happened to him. This film is 8 years later, long since the Joker lost his playful rival in Batman and was put away. Without anyone to toy with, he easily could have just moved on or gone completely insane. Either way, there was no reason he needed to be mentioned in this film at all. He is just another psychopathic criminal of Gotham. Old news.

    The fact that Bruce Wayne seems uninterested in his whereabouts makes me believe he is, in fact, imprisoned in solitary at Arkham as their “sole remaining inmate.” Heath’s Joker got enough crazy to fill the place anyway. Otherwise, Wayne would be far too interested in making sure he was ultimately brought to justice. Right?

    My only other idea would be that the Joker had escaped and was therefore purposefully glossed over by the police in their public discussions of Dent so as to prevent any suspicious line of questioning. Bruce would have no idea since he had no contact with Gordon, and the Joker could not have joined in on the anarchy in TDKR because the city was isolated and he likely would have left after escape. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1103843399 Tomas Ceyssens

    Why would the Joker be in the dark knight rises? He’s got nothing to do with this movie

  • Malea

    i thought he hung himself at the end of TDK? :/

    • Malea

      or not hung himself..he was fighting with Batman and ended up hanging from the top of the building…or am i making that up?

      • Jason

        Batman caught him and hung him from there. Batman left and the police were seen converging on him, which meant he was caught. 

  • LuiKang

    I understand why Nolan would want to NOT mention The Joker in TDKR out of respect, but I also feel that out of respect he should have mentioned him too… it works both ways… even something like a scene like a shadow of The Joker, in a cell alone, from behind laughing hysterically while all the commotion is happening in Gotham would have been pretty awesome or something simple like one of Bane’s prisoners saying something like “Yo boss, should we go get the Joker out?” with Bane answering “Hmm, The Joker? Gotham does not need such maniacal man should running loose, he too shall serve his deserving punishment..”, just a small dialogue like that mentioning The Joker would have been a nice little add. But hey, i am not complaining. Nolan does know best.

  • Koone

    I thought I saw Heath in the bag in the capsized plane at the start of the movie, but I think I’m wrong

  • AC

    I see two possible scenarios, one of which is mentioned quite regularly: either he was left to be the sole prisioner at Arkham, or he was exectued. Killing a judge or a cop warrants an automatic death sentence. Being that Nolan’s Batman world was very much so submerged in realism, it is fair to conclude that the Joker could have been executed. This of course isn’t based off of anything other than a supposition to reality, but an idea to entertain none the less. I sure would have loved to see at least a nod to Ledger’s phenominal performance, and this was actually my main beefs with the movie apart from all the polt and logic holes that are well known. Had they chose to include the Joker somehow in TDKR, that could have made for one phenominal film. Bane and the Joker!? “Imagine the flames”.

  • seejohnboy23

    i think it would of been cool if they had a look alike do a distant shot of the joker in the cell considering they use doubles all the time …

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