Heath Ledger's turn as Batman's archenemy, The Joker, is lauded as one of the most iconic movie performances of all time. But did you know that director Christopher Nolan included a subtly touching tribute to the late actor in the final instalment of his Dark Knight trilogy?
Ledger's performance as The Joker undoubtedly contributed to the consensus that 2008's The Dark Knight is the strongest film in the trilogy, and one of the best superhero films of all time.
Initially, there were plans for The Joker to return in the final instalment of the trilogy, but with Heath Ledger's untimely death ahead of TDK's release, those plans had to be thrown out.
Instead, Christopher Nolan decided to honour Ledger's legacy as The Joker in a moving way - and without directly mentioning him at all.
Instead of giving the character an off-screen death, or a throwaway comment like 'thank God Joker's locked up thousands of miles away', Nolan decided to pay tribute to Heath Ledger by not trivialising his passing with a one-sentence in-film explanation.
So how did this play out?
Well, the final montage - SPOILER ALERT, although the film's 13 years old now so you've not got much of an excuse - covers Bruce Wayne's funeral and the unveiling of Batman's statue in Gotham City.
Here, Nolan managed to recreate The Joker's iconic smile through subtle cinematography and placement of film extras.
You can see the results in the image below:
Given that the whole scene is based upon honouring a fallen hero with a legacy that will endure long after they are gone, it really is very fitting that this kind of tribute was paid to Ledger.
And although Joaquin Phoenix has himself earned an Academy Award for portraying Batman's greatest enemy in 2019's handily-titled Joker, for many people Heath Ledger will always be the definitive Joker.
Nolan's subtle nod to the late actor's legacy solidifies the impact that he had on the trilogy, and the superhero genre as a whole.
In fact, earlier this year, Ledger's Joker was voted the best portrayal of the character of all time.
In a poll of more than 23,000 LADbible readers, the late actor won with 77 percent of the vote for his performance in Christopher Nolan's 2008 film The Dark Knight.
Phoenix, who played the villainous character in 2019's Joker, came second with 11 percent.
Copy: Tom Bedworth
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