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'Batman': Heath Ledger as the Joker?!

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95341__heath_l_1Can I get a “Holy casting against type, Batman”?

Chris Nolan, sire of the sober, psychological Batman Begins and its 2008-slated sequel The Dark Knight, is taking his theory of Bat-realism to the next level: He’s made Heath Ledger his Joker. The choice is hardly intuitive, which is part of what makes it so darned interesting. Was this news released under cover of Gibson to staunch the expected fan kerfuffle? If so, it’s not going to work. Debates will rage.

Hardcore Bat aficionados enjoyed but never accepted Jack Nicholson’s flubbery demon yuppie; they much preferred the Mark Hamill-voiced animated version, which hewed closer to the comic book character.

Ledger will likely take an entirely different approach – perhaps something of his Knight’s Tale theatricality, coupled with his Brokeback brooding and just a pinch of Casanova (where he proves he’s adept at eluding men in black cloaks). In all seriousness, there will be much seriousness: The Joker, toxically clownified or no, will have some sort of deep, real hurt to nurse, if Nolan holds with the mood he established in Begins.

But, wow, with Philip Seymour Hoffman rumored to be Nolan’s (as yet reluctant) pick for The Penguin, will there really be any room for another villain? I can feel a showdown coming in the air tonight. Oh, Lord. Oh, Lord.

Originally posted August 1 2006 — 3:28 PM EDT

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