Six minutes of a highly anticipated summer blockbuster played before IMAX screenings of 2007’s ‘I am Legend’
The six minutes showed thugs in clown masks robbing a mob-owned bank. As soon as one thug serves his role in the heist, another thug guns him down, and so on. Only one of the masked men survives.
‘Criminals in this city used to believe in things. What do you believe in, huh?’ the wounded bank manager yells as he lies on the floor. Before he kills him, the remaining hood reveals to the manager the mutilated clown-like grimace underneath the mask and says, ‘I believe that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you … stranger.’
This is how moviegoers will meet the late Heath Ledger’s interpretation of The Joker on July 18, when ‘The Dark Knight’ premieres in movie theaters. The Batman will not chase the criminal through a manufacturing plant, causing him to fall into a vat of toxic chemicals.
Director Christopher Nolan said in past interviews that the critical influence for the film was The Joker’s first two appearances in comics and ‘Batman: The Long Halloween.’
‘Batman #1: Batman vs. Joker,’ which DC Comics published in 1940, shows that the Joker character publicly threatens people who he wants to rob or with whom he holds a grudge, leaving the bodies of his victims with chemically induced smiling faces. What is notable about the comic book is that he goes through extraordinary lengths to follow through on his death threats, including successfully impersonating a police officer.
‘Batman #2: The Case of The Joker’s Crime Circus,’ which DC Comics published in 1941, also shows he has a penchant for dressing up in costumes to accomplish his goals.
‘The Dark Knight’ trailers show that Gotham mobsters have turned to The Joker, who is likely killing or robbing them to command their obedience or garner their attention, for help to regain control of the city. They are also under attack by a new, maverick district attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), who with help of The Batman and Lt. James Gordon, is working to put on trial mobster Salvatore Maroni (Eric Roberts), Gotham’s new crime honcho in the movie.
‘Batman: The Long Halloween,’ which was published by DC Comics in the late ’90s, shows that mob kingpin Carmine Falcone tries to launder his family’s money through the Gotham City Bank. But Bruce Wayne, who is a member of the bank’s board of directors, prevent this from happening.
With the help of Dent, The Batman later finds the cash in a warehouse and burns it to ashes.
What is notable about the comic book series is that Dent not only suggests how he would kill a certain gangster, he is also content when he hears someone else did the job.
As part of the storyline for the 13-issue comic book series, Maroni throws acid toward the left side of Dent’s face, horribly scarring him. A snippet from a movie trailer implies that The Joker scars Dent’s face, igniting spilled liquid on which the ill-starred D.A. lies.
As Two-Face, he kills Maroni in ‘Batman: The Long Halloween,’ and he likely kills him in ‘The Dark Knight’ as well.
Eckhart alluded to this during an interview at a June 29 press junket. ‘If you notice who Harvey Two-Face disposes of, it is not random. It still has a sense of justice to it,’ Eckhart said.
Bill Ramey, who runs the Batman on Film Web site, confirms that The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), who used fear toxin against the citizens of Gotham in the terrorist attack against the city in 2005’s ‘Batman Begins,’ appears at the beginning of the movie. Ramey said online scuttlebutt about actress Sarah Jayne Dunn’s role in the movie is false. Harley Quinn does not appear in the movie.
Most trailers for ‘The Dark Knight’ indicate it will be an action flick, though a scene in which The Batman talks to The Joker in what seems to be an interrogation room at the Gotham City PD looks promising. ‘Does it depress you, how alone you really are? You had plans. Look where that got ya,” the Joker says.
He appears determined to prove they are similar by pushing The Batman to kill him, to break his one rule. This plays into The Joker’s theory in ‘Batman: The Killing Joke,’ a graphic novel which DC Comics published in 1988, that it only takes one day of great misfortune to turn a sane man into a psychopath.
Christian Bale said at the June 29 press junket that ‘there is a very fine line of what is the quickest way to solve a problem, much as with Batman questioning his own rule. What is the quickest way to finish The Joker and assure that no one else dies? Well, that is to kill him. However, he is lowering himself by doing so.’
At the same time, Bruce Wayne, the man underneath the mask, considers giving up his mission to rid the city of crime, as citizens have embraced Dent as their protector.
What he will decide is obvious to comic book fans, but the events that will shape his decisions should prove to be riveting to everyone who watches ‘The Dark Knight.’