Ask any comic book fan what their most anticipated movie is this year and I guarantee a vast majority of them will say The Dark Knight
, the eagerly awaited sequel to Batman Begins
. One of the reasons this film has fans excited is Heath Ledger's
portrayal of the Joker.
From the marketing efforts thus far, we see that this Joker is far different from any film or television interpretations of the past - a much darker take surely than Jack Nicholson's
role from 20 years ago. The marketing behind this movie has up until now focused mainly on the Joker, with alternate reality games encouraging fans to dress as clowns and cause a little mayhem of their own. We have all been gearing up for this summer. Then it all changed.
It has been one week since Heath Ledger passed away. Some media outlets have tried to pin this tragedy on drugs, depression, and so on. Others have risen to his defense, reminding all that Ledger was a decent and talented man who does not deserve the negative attention people are giving him. To me, though, Heath Ledger was a brilliant actor and a man who enveloped himself in every role he took.
When you sat back and watched Monster's Ball
or Brokeback Mountain
, you did not see Heath Ledger, you saw Sonny Grotowski and Ennis Del Mar. Fifteen years from now Ledger will not be remembered for tabloid stories or hollywood romances gone astray. He will be remembered for his untimely death but also for his roles. This is perhaps the greatest achievement an actor can receive. Heath Ledger was not merely a celebrity. He was an actor.
So what point am I trying to make? It has been suggested that the marketing campaign behind "The Dark Knight" be altered to focus less on the Joker. Some may think this is the sensitive approach to take, but it isn't. The character who is marketing this film is the Joker, not Ledger. When you are watching trailers or seeing posters, you are viewing the Joker. Heath Ledger brought this character to life, and he created this persona, the last character we will ever see the actor portray. It would be disrespectful, in my opinion, to simply stop marketing the film in the way it was meant to be marketed.
Some may say that using the images might seem tasteless or harsh. That is the character of the Joker, and that is the character that Ledger decided to take on. From now on this film will remind us just how unpredictable and tragic life truly is. We will look at the photos and see the film with different eyes, but we continue to share excitement in Ledger's work rather than sadness in his passing.
The Joker is Heath Ledger's final role. Some might always remember him as Ennis Del Mar, while some might always remember his as William Thatcher from A Knight's Tale
. For the rest of my life I will remember him as the Joker. We should remember Ledger by the roles he played and not by the life we were told he had. That is the most fitting tribute we can give him and his family.
Story by Dan Chruscinski
Starpulse contributing writer