Tuesday, 30 December 2008

#1 Batman vs. The Dark Knight: Which Joker Is For Adults?

After the success of Christopher Nolan’s (Memento, Insomnia) The Dark Knight, the Joker’s character has been launched once again into character stardom. Now at about every themed birthday party, you can now expect to see at least one costumed psychopath in full make-up trying to pull of being the Joker. After watching the Dark Knight for about the fifth time, I started to compare Nicholson’s Joker to Ledger’s Joker in an attempt to figure out who portrayed Joker in the comic book sense for children and who portrayed Joker in an graphic novel way (e.g. Batman: The Killing Joke, Joker)?

Let’s face facts, not many people (people under the age of 19) remember or have seen the classic Tim Burton’s Batman (released 1989), where the brilliant Jack Nicholson played an excellent Joker. With Tim Burton’s Joker, he came across to be an over the top portrayal of the Joker, equipped with a long barred pistol for shooting down bat-planes and a hand buzzer for shocking co-workers. What also grabbed audiences the first time round was the Joker’s sick sense of humour which kids would not have found funny (then again the film was released as a certificate 15 over here in England). The Joker wasn’t just equipped with strange weapons but with ridiculous puns.

I believe that when Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren wrote the screenplay they wanted the Joker’s character to resemble a funnier and less violent side of Joker because maybe cinema hadn’t been pushed to it’s limits, like it has been now. For example if they did the pencil magic trick back in the late eighties I might have had to been cut (having said that though the Joker was still a mad man in Batman). What Nolan did with Dark Knight was try to make it a realistic side of the Joker, cut out the cheesy tools of destruction and add believable weapons such as knifes and guns.

To be honest after Nolan’s first Batman outing with Batman Begins (released 2005) it didn’t seem to stand out from the rest of the superhero franchises out there but was still better then most. And after hearing that the caped crusader will be back I was some what sceptical and some what uninterested (who could blame me with films in the franchise like Batman and Robin). However over time the film started to catch my eye, and the final product ended up being my favourite super hero movie. I also feel that Ledger’s performance over shadowed other actors like Aaron Eckhart, who up until his partial of Two-Face wasn’t on my good side. Still Dark Knight has been hailed as Ledger’s swan song and it’s easy to see why. That film definitely has set a new bar for super hero and graphic novels movie alike.

To sum up I believe that Burton’s Joker portrayed a comic book side to the Joker, with silly gags and hilarious puns whilst Nolan’s Joker showed us the dark graphic novel side to what the Joker can become. Really even through the irony is that Batman was a certificate 15 and Dark Knight only a certificate 12; it seemed to me that the two should have been switched around.

And on a few last note I think Nolan should to a directors cut and add in more violence, not because I’m crazy but I think it’ll do him justice because Joker’s character is one that should be put in the mature film spectra instead of cutting little bits to get the child certificate. And lastly I didn’t talk about Cesar Romero because it would be like comparing Adam West to Christian Bale, I ain’t gunna do it.

Oliver Hunt
23rd Dec 08

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