Getting this hyped up for a movie almost always leads to disaster for me, but based on how good the last movie was, and how good this one looks, it’s difficult to not get excited. And considering how good the little bits of Heath Ledger’s performance we’ve seen, he looks to have turned in an amazing performance. (Though sadly his last completed performance)
Yes, it does appear that they’ve changed several aspects of the character (his skin is not stained, he has a smile-scar, looks to be just plain old plum nuts), but they all look to be changes I can live with once to put the character in more of a reality-based atmosphere.
For me, of all people, to say I’m okay with changes to a character, you know I have to have good reasons. For me, the seminal work of this character comes down to one work by Alan Moore that made me realize that this character HAS to be handled as completely insane, and that was Batman:The Killing Joke. This book demonstrated more clearly than any other work that Batman and Joker are both clearly insane, and are locked in a dance of death that does not allow one to exist without the other. They are BOTH insane, one is just more socially acceptable than the other, but he is not that different from his “insane” counterpart.
There is probably no character in comics I am more passionate about than the Joker simply because I don’t think the vast majority of people grasp the true depths of his insanity. There is a beauty to his insanity, a poetry to it, IF he is handled correctly, and not every writer is up to the task, nor is every actor.
Cesar Romero, whom most people associate with the character due to the 1960’s TV series couldn’t have been further away from the real Joker if he tried. Not his fault mind you, he’s a fine actor, it was just the nature of the television series. As for Jack Nicholson in the 1989 film… ugh. So wrong, so very, very wrong. His “insanity” was brought on by his vanity… whee. What a horrible concept, but it was so much better than the TV series, we took it. Silly us.
Will we take Ledger’s performance with the same idea? Will we, the fans, call it brilliant only because it isn’t Nicholson’s? I honestly don’t think so. Look to your left, click the image to see a super-sized version (thanks to this blog for the amazing screen captures from the trailer), and tell me if this man doesn’t just look plain nuts for real? No, this isn’t some back-handed slap at his real life, I am purely talking his performance, and he does look completely certifiable. Watch the trailer, pay attention to the way he licks his lips… hanging out the car window… he is reveling in his insanity, embracing it, and not making any apologies for it.
I am over-estimating? I certainly hope not. When I see the movie, I will turn my usually over-critical eye towards Ledger in particular as he will be playing a character I care so deeply for, but thus far… consider me blown away.