The News Blog of Comics Culture
MTV.com has an article up talking to a bunch of folks about Heath Ledger’s Joker. Included in the article are Guillermo del Toro, Paul Dini, Jeph Loeb and … ADAM WEST!
Posted by Mark Coale
“POW! BAM! Ledger’s Joker arrives in all his glory July 18.”
We’ll never see the end of that whole POW! BAM! thing, will we. The first movie was good, but it seemed to me that it was made for people who don’t like comics. Does that make sense? This one seems the same. I do want to see it of course, if not of any other reason then (the goth boy in me sees) that there are shots of the joker that match up exactly with shots from the first Crow movie. Can you spot them? I look forward to it.
I thought the same thing. (About the POW! BAM! thing, I mean.)
Personally,…I thought BATMAN BEGINS, sucked. I’m the only person I’ve spoken to who had this reaction. I didn’t see any of the things that I like about The Batman in that flick,…at all. I don’t see anything about Ledger in this trailer that makes me think, “Joker! Cool!”
Naturally, I will go see it. Not fair to pre-judge.
I’ll second you on not being a huge fan of Batman Begins (if I remember correctly, Heidi had some reservations about it too).
I’m waiting to pass judgement on Ledger, but what really gave me a double take in the article was Loeb saying he didn’t like Jack Nicholson’s Joker. That’s crazy! That performance is definitive.
I don’t think any of the performances to date have been definitive. I thought Nicholson was great at the time, but now when I see 1989′s BATMAN he seems like an over-the-top, overweight ham.
In retrospect I think he was 15-20 years too old to play the part.
I think the best part of the first (Tim Burton) movie was the sequence at the beginning where The Batman descends on the two crooks who have retreated to a nearby roof top to inspect the loot that they have stolen from the little family on the streets below. I’d go out on a limb and say that WAS definitive. I’m not a big fan of the gadget laden, armored ninja part of the equation. I’m a fan of the effortlessly frightening guy in the shiny black cape. The world’s (…second…) greatest detective. I’d love to see more of that. What’s so scary about a guy with his own hot rod half-track? That’s like being frightened of a jock in a Hummer.
I sort of wish someone would do a version that was set back in the late Thirties. Tell me a Batman story that isn’t about technology. Tell me a story that doesn’t revolve around the destruction of an entire city,…or universe. Tell it without blowing up the scenery every ten minutes. A crime story. Screw The Joker.
Man, if finding the Joker hot is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this, because I am both bothered by the new films and happy about them. I like that they’re more grounded. I can believe them, because they take place in a city that looks like a real city, and have people in them the talk like real people. It’s all much more adult (I’m an adult so I like it) and that’s where I also have a problem with them. From comics to movies, why do we continue to cut kids out of the equation? This new joker is not for kids. It’s not just that he’s scary, but he’s also ultra dark, and more then a little bit perverted. That’s fine for an adult sensibility, but where do the kids relate? This goes back to what I said about manga in another post. Love it, or hate it, manga is written first and foremost with kids and teenagers in mind. That’s why it’s risen to such huge popularity, whilst the rest of the industry scratches it’s head and wonders why it’s so hard to bring in fresh readers. To coin a Stephen King phrase, the comic book industry (and Hollywood isn’t helping any) has forgotten the face of it’s father… In this respect, anyway.
Well golly olly and gee whiz, if that don’t just look peachy keen.
About the darkness thing- Honestly, when I was a kid, I’d watch anything that looked amazing, irregardless of ‘darkness’ or anything of that sort. They scared me, which is fine. It is indeed only a movie. And a fantasy one at that.
Also, about ‘Pow Bam’… well, its appropriate. Because they just finished interviewing Adam West about Batman. POW! BAM! COMIX!
Pow! Bam! Ugh!
Nicholson’s Joker was dark, but he was also charismatic. Rewatch the scene where he explains how he wants to be the “first fully functional homicidal artist.” What I’m afraid Ledger will lack is charisma, which both the Joker and Nicholson have in spades.
Say what you want about the first Batman movie being campy, but every line is pure gold, every scene sparks. There are at least two dozen quotable lines in that movie. “Where does he get those wonderful toys?” Does anybody remember any lines from Batman Begins?
I think you’re confusing charisma with flamboyance, steve. Nicholson’s Joker, to me and many people I know, is just Nicholson in joker makeup, hamming it up. You may not like Ledger’s take, but judging by the early clips, he appears to have immersed himself in a character, and I don’t see a trace of Ledger there, which I like.
I will agree that some of the dialog in Begins is pretty sucky, though.
I absolutely loved Batman Begins, and thought the story and action balanced nicely with some topnotch acting (for an action movie, at least). The only thing I’d give Burton’s first movie over Begins is the visual aspect. No one can really outdo him in that area. But I intensely disliked Nicholson’s Joker, which was maybe the worst part of that movie. I’m looking forward to a new Joker to wash the taste of that one from my mouth forever.
This whole batman discussion is just too sweet to miss out on, so yeah, here’s my 2 cents. Those latest batman movies simply suck, period. They miss everything that made the old movies classic. How can you title a movie Batman Begins and expect people to take you seriously. Almost any superhero flick usually has bad acting. With that said, it really makes you wonder why all these “filmmakers” waste their precious time and a shitload of money trying to please audiences with garbage storytelling and over the top special effects. As for staying true to the original material, don’t even get me started on that issue. One of the best villains of all time for example, the Joker. They really fucked up big time on that aspect of the latest movie, Ledger’s take on the Joker is just W R O N G, that is in no way how the Joker should act, be visualised/portrayed. The Joker is no transsexual idiot with some retarded make up, he’s a brilliant charismatic madman who simply laughs in the face of death. No matter what you fuckin’ throw at him he’ll ALWAYS have the “last laugh”, so to speak. Now, Jack Nicholson understood that, Ledger however didn’t. But yeah, whatever brings in the “big bucks”, if you’re into allot of action sequences, a shitload o’ exploding stuff, and that sort o’ thing you might just get turned on by ol’ bathead begins. Anyway, take care everybody.
The only line I can remember from “Batman Begins” came from my 6-year old son, an hour into the film: “WHEN is he gonna BEGIN, Daddy?”
I’m going to actually wait and see Ledger’s performance before I decide what he is or isn’t. I’m kinda suprised how many people prefer Burton’s version. Batman killing in cold blood? Jerry Hall? The Prince music number? Plus Batman Returns was, I think, three and a half hours long.
“They really fucked up big time on that aspect of the latest movie, Ledger’s take on the Joker is just W R O N G, that is in no way how the Joker should act, be visualised/portrayed.”
This statement is more than a little absurd because in his 60+ year history in all media, the Joker has been portrayed so many different and conflicting ways that no one interpretation of him can be considered “correct.” The Joker is Cesar Romero camping it up in a whited-out moustache, and he is also the sadistic, black-humoured torturer-rapist of Alan Moore’s Killing Joke. Ledger’s portrayal is one interpretation out of dozens, no less valid than any other save that it doesn’t match up to whatever particular version of the character you have idealized in your head (and it should go without saying that your personal favourite reading of the Joker may very well be W R O N G to someone else). Couple that with the fact that all you or anyone else has seen of Ledger’s Joker is a handful of photos and about 30 seconds of out-of-context dialogue and I don’t think it’s fair at all to say that they “fucked it up.”
I quite like Batman Begins, although on subsequent viewings its weaknesses are more apparent. I still prefer it to the 89 Burton film, which I adored as a 13-year-old (and some would say that’s the point) but I think really hasn’t aged well at all.
Loved Batman Begins. Enjoyed the Burton ones.
I think it’s that the new films aren’t for hardcore Batman fans. I like comics and I like the look of this new Batman film. You don’t make a 100 million dollar film for at most 100,000 people.
It’s not for kids…. it skews older?? Have you seen what kids are watching these days? I work in a movie theatre, so I have. Batman films are on the more family friendly side by comparison.
I like what I’ve seen so far of Ledger’s Joker. He looks like a deranged psychopath laughing in the face of certain death. Seems pitch-perfect to me.
I can’t quote Batman Begins, but I can quote all of the lines from the new film’s trailer. I watch it twice a day.
A few comments on some of the above:
The Burton Batman movies weren’t really for kids ether. Batman Killed (wrong, wrong, wrong) and the Penguin was enticed with the prospect of “poon-tang.” I remember as a kid being bored to tears by the first Batman film, but anyone can chalk that up to taste. I’m cool with that, but I think it’ll hold true with others my age. The best Joker for me, will always be Mark Hamel, in the animated movie. That was a powerful believable story that pushed the limits, without being to raw for children. Yes, kids do see a lot these days, but that’s because we push it on them. If I ask any kid if they like something, for the most part, they just give me what they’ve heard about it on TV (Adults do that, too.) but if they think I’m not listening, I hear what they really think. For the most part, I overhear them talking about manga, and High School Musical. All the other stuff just comes and goes in their minds, and then that’s the end of it. There’s one other thing that I don’t understand. Where’s the value in these one liners everyone keeps talking about? One liners, do not a movie make. Sure they’re fun, but we should be going for substance here.
Unpopular said:”It’s not for kids…. it skews older?? Have you seen what kids are watching these days? I work in a movie theatre, so I have. Batman films are on the more family friendly side by comparison. ”
Okay, what are some of the rough things aimed at kids that you’ve seen? Name some examples.
Having 2 kids myself, I’d wager I’ve had to suffer through at least as many “family films” over the past decade, so I’m wondering which ones you’d single out.
I think the Batman films should be just as family-friendly as the Spider-man flicks have been, if for no other reason than Batman’s iconic status.
I don’t want to see Batman return to campiness, not even in the bizarro Burton style, but I too thought “Begins” skewed older” in unnecessary ways.
They still haven’t made the definitive Batman movie in my opinion.
‘They still haven’t made the definitive Batman movie in my opinion.’
to me, it was called MASK OF THE PHANTASM.
“to me, it was called MASK OF THE PHANTASM.”
Yeah. You’re right.
But I thought we were talkin’ live action films here.
Just when you think you have the answers, we change the questions. Just kidding… I mean, yeah, why not Phantasm? It had everything all the other movies didn’t. They played it strait and had fun. In fact, I think on our schools next movie night, I’ll show it to my students. I always try to show films that are relevant to art, and that one sure is. We last showed one about David Mack, and that went over great. I try to time it along with the release of Dark Night, and see what happens.
I never said “aimed at kids”. I mentioned what kids were watching. Two totally different things.
I didn’t find the Spider-Man films family friendly. There are plenty of PG films that feature content I wouldn’t find family friendly. Alvin and the Chipmunks comes to mind. Enchanted sent a bad message as well. Just to name a few.
I think the Spider-man movies are a great example of a comic book adaptation that worked. Well,…actually, I can only talk about the first two,…haven’t seen the third one yet. The character looked and acted like the guy in the pamphlets,…it was pretty faithful to the source material and people flocked to it. I just don’t get why Hollywood feels like they can’t take the material “as is” and go with it. Sure, there were some things that weren’t spot on. Invariably, those were the things that didn’t work for me. The armored Green Goblin for example. Imagine if they had given us the Ditko Goblin…and why couldn’t they, really? It seems in this day and age of computer graphics and high end motion picture technology there are no real excuses. It is my apprehension that, for the most part, what we get is what the director can deliver. You’re not going to find that many directors committed to the material, like say, Sam Raimi seems to be with Spidey. They seem to be making other movies that they are interested in,… wrapped in a thin choclatey outer layer of the character(s) that they have to make reference to in order to satisfy their contracts and then justify their way out of it. The bulky armored bat-suit is a good example. You’ll read where the producers/director maintains that it’s more believable that a guy fighting crime out on the streets would protect himself with a little more than spandex long johns. But then, of course, it is no stretch to have the Bat-tank race up the side of a building.
Dialogue: I thought BATMAN BEGINS had some terrible scripting, if only because everyone seems to make these over-the-top speeches. From Falcone to Wayne, to Whatshername to Ras Al Ghul.
The worst part about the Batman Begins screenplay is how sledgehammer unsubtle it is in pounding the theme into the audience – every single character makes at least one, usually more, reference to fear – “In order to conquer your fear, you must first become fear, only then can you use fear to strike fear into the fearful hearts of those who truly fear the fear, you hear?”
That and the echoing of lines spoken earlier in the story for resonance, which happens like 8 times.
Still, I enjoy the movie a lot.
Steve Taylor Says:
“I think the Spider-man movies are a great example of a comic book adaptation that worked. The character looked and acted like the guy in the pamphlets,…it was pretty faithful to the source material and people flocked to it. I just don’t get why Hollywood feels like they can’t take the material “as is” and go with it. Imagine if they had given us the Ditko Goblin…and why couldn’t they, really? It seems in this day and age of computer graphics and high end motion picture technology there are no real excuses.”
Lots of people who seem to want more faithful film adaptations of comic books seem to ignore how ridiculous most superhero comics are in the first place. I just want GOOD adaptations, and they don’t have to be completely faithful to the source material in order to be good. For example, the film adaptation of Mark Millar’s Wanted looks almost nothing like the comics, and I think it works out better that way.
I love Batman, he was my childhood hero, and will see any movie with his name in it anywhere. This new Joker irks me because I just like my Joker to look like the Joker. Shallow perhaps, but I don’t watch Batman movies for great thespians giving master performances. I watch for all my old friends, like Batman, The Joker, Alfred…and Robin (who always gets left out of these movies for some ridiculous reason).
Anyway, I loved Jack Nicholson and Cesar Romero for different reasons , and without putting too fine a point on it, The Long Halloween was one of the worst Batman tales I’ve ever read for a bunch of reasons, and I can’t take that opinion seriously.
I’ll take a good adaptation any day. It’s the interpretations I’m having trouble with.
It’s like Jazz. If the artist is riffing on a certain song and I’m having trouble finding the initial melody then,…what’s the point. Sure,..he’s called Batman and has pointy ears,…lives in a cave,…has a butler,…etc. But,…?
And I just want to clarify that I loved Cesar Romero and the campy Batman TV show, I loved Batman the Animated Series and Mark Hamill’s incredible Joker interpretation (probably my favorite, actually), I now merely enjoy Jack’s over-acting and snappy one-liners but probably loved it when the Tim Burton film came out, and I was NOT looking forward to “Brokeback” Joker. However, I’m duly impressed with Ledger’s Joker so far, and I probably like it for exactly the same reasons everyone else doesn’t.
I have never been a serious reader of Batman comics.
I have less of a problem with violence and whatnot in movies that kids will go to see than I do with questionable moral choices that heroes of kids movies make these days. Violence itself is a part of life, so seeing it, especially with a careful parental eye, doesn’t have to be harmful. It’s only when “heroes” use violence — fatal violence — as a first choice that I get miffed.
Back in the ’40′s when Jack Leibowitz realized that — oddly enough — millions of CHILDREN were reading his company’s comic books, he decided there should be some rules in place. Number One on the list was that heroes under the National logo would never kill.
Sure, that rule meant that heroes weren’t exactly mirror images of adult reality. But the point is they inspired young people to be optimistic, to strive for an easier solution than the one that’s immediately in front of you and seems, for this fleeting moment, to be the most satisfying. These characters are superhuman after all, what we aspire to be. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing to have in kids’ comics.
Batman’s shameful role in the death of Ras Al Ghul in “Batman Begins” turned me off to the franchise permanently. He should have found a better, more challenging way, at least for the kids who were looking up to him.
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