Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I wish I knew how to quit you, Caped Crusader

Heath Ledger as the Joker in the next Batman film?

Let the "Brokeback Batman" jokes commence.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I haven't seen much in Ledger's work to date to suggest that he can pull off the kind of scenery-gnawing, over-the-top performance the Joker calls for. The character has to be, at turns, both broadly comic and horrifyingly menacing. Ledger's resume doesn't contain a single example of either quality, much less a deft combination of the two.

We'll just have to see.

As only a nominal Batman fan — I liked the character better in his The Brave and the Bold incarnation of the 1960s and '70s than the twisted psychotic he's become since Frank Miller got his slimy mitts on him in the mid-'80s — I'd rather see the franchise take Batman in a different direction than reviving the Joker. Anyone who plays the Joker on film will always be compared with Jack Nicholson in the first Tim Burton-directed Batman movie, even though I didn't think much of Nicholson in the role (too much "Jack," not enough Joker).

Batman has been around long enough to have a gigantic rogues' gallery of villains that haven't yet been exploited by the film series. Christopher Nolan's selection of Ra's Al Ghul and the Scarecrow as the Dark Knight's antagonists in Batman Begins illustrates how well bringing new/old characters into Batman's cinematic mythos can work. Why not continue that pattern by showing us Batman heavies we haven't already seen?

For example, how about Ra's Al Ghul's former acolyte Whisper A'Daire? Or Harley Quinn, who's already familiar to viewers of the various animated Batman TV series of recent years? Cast Scarlett Johansson in either of these roles, and the next movie will practically make itself.

Or, if Warner Bros. prefers to maintain the film franchise's darker edge, why not use the superhuman zombie Solomon Grundy (I can more easily envision Heath Ledger as the shambling Grundy than as the razor-witted Joker), or the terrifying Man-Bat? Either would translate effectively to the screen, and at the same time offer us filmgoers something we haven't already seen.

Just so we don't get the Governator as Mr. Freeze again.

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1 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger MCF offered these pearls of wisdom...

They'd need to bring in Bane to break Batman's back...

With no Rachel Dawes this time around, the logical progression from Ra's would be to bring in his daughter Talia as Bruce's love interest/nemesis. There's potential for a real Bond-girl take here. I like the idea of Scarlett as Harley though. I'd watch that movie.

9:46 PM  

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