Writer David S Goyer, who co-wrote Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, has said that not giving Heath Ledger’s Joker an origin story was considered a ‘controversial thing’, despite the success of Batman Begins. Goyer said that ‘people were worried’ about the decision.
“I do remember when we were talking about, ‘Well, what if the Joker doesn’t really have an origin story?’” Goyer recalled during a recent Comic Con at Home interview. “Even after the success of Batman Begins, that was considered a very controversial thing, and we got a lot of push-back. People were worried.”
In The Dark Knight, Joker narrates different versions of his origin story — while one suggested domestic violence, another hinted at parental abuse. But the changing narratives highlight Joker’s unreliability.
Also read: When Heath Ledger told Christian Bale to hit him for real while filming The Dark Knight: ‘His commitment was total’
In 2019, Joaquin Phoenix played the character in Joker, an Oscar-winning film about the origins of the iconic comic book villain. Like Ledger, he won an Academy Award for his performance.
Nolan spoke about keeping Joker ambiguous in an interview to Empire magazine in 2012. “Our Joker—Heath’s interpretation of The Joker—has always been the absolute extreme of anarchy and chaos, effectively. He’s pure evil through pure anarchy.”
Nolan continued, “And what makes him terrifying is to not humanize him in narrative terms. Heath found all kinds of fantastic ways to humanize him in terms of simply being real and being a real person, but in narrative terms we didn’t want to humanize him, we didn’t want to show his origins, show what made him do the things he’s doing because then he becomes less threatening.”
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