Remembering Heath Ledger 10 Years Later

10 years ago we lost Heath Ledger, not only did we lose one of the best main villains ever to grace the big screen but we also lost an amazing actor and person in general. I cannot believe how quickly time has flown. It feels like I was just watching him as The Joker in The Dark Knight a couple of months ago. Granted Heath Ledger had made his name way before stepping into the role of The Joker with his performances in films such as ‘Brokeback Mountain’, ’10 Things I Hate About You’ and ‘A Knight’s Tale’. However my first introduction to Heath Ledger was with his iconic performance as The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’. Now when I first watched The Dark Knight I believe I was about 10 years old, way too young to watch the film at the time now that I think about it. All I remembered from The Dark Knight was how incredible The Joker was. What I loved the most about Heath’s performance when first watching it was I didn’t even care about the actor at the time all I saw was The Joker, I was so taken back by his performance.

Only after watching the film I came to find out that Heath had actually passed away before the film came even out. Correct me if i’m wrong but I don’t believe Heath actually got to see the final product of his work like we all did. I was heart broken to find this out given the amount of work he put into this role. Heath was in full creative control from the look, mannerisms and even the dialogue with The Joker. Reading a past interview from Christopher Nolan with the BBC he claimed that he learned a lot from the way Heath created this character and his performance in general. If that’s not one of the biggest compliments ever then I don’t know what is.

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Looking back on Heath’s performance in The Dark Knight it’s so hard for me to pick just one of his scenes as my favourite. If I were to use a word to describe his performance it would be ‘unpredictable’. You didn’t know what you were going to get next with The Joker. You certainly didn’t trust him and you had no idea of what he was planning. This is shown in scenes where Batman interrogates him for the first time, they should have just given him his Oscar for his performance in that scene alone. No where is the unpredictably of the Joker is shown in the scenes where he describes his origins. He changes it all the time especially about how he got his scars. The scene where he crashes the party is incredible, his performance to this day still has me on edge when he’s talking about putting a razor blade in his mouth providing with yet another story on how he got those scars.

Recently I also watched the new ‘I Am Heath Ledger’ documentary which I cannot recommend highly enough for anyone to watch. It really made me appreciate the person Heath Ledger a lot more. I saw him as someone who was more than just an actor. He lived his life as a free spirit, did what he wanted, put his family and friends first. As much as he loved acting he didn’t enjoy the limelight that came along with it. If you didn’t know Heath actually turned down the role of Peter Parker in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies because of this. Anyone else would have probably taken that chance in a heartbeat, it really says a lot about him as a person.

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Heath Ledger remains the only actor to receive an Oscar for a role in a comic book movie. (Best Supporting Actor, 2009)

Now 10 years later what is Heath Ledger’s legacy? Well for me he will forever hold a special place in my heart. He will always be remembered for providing me with one of the best performances ever on the big screen. As for his legacy when it comes to comic book films, well it speaks for itself. When the casting of Heath Ledger was announced it wasn’t well received by Hollywood. However Heath with his performance set the bar so high that some may argue he has eclipsed what the likes of Mark Hamill and Jack Nicholson brought to the character. Anyone who steps into the big shoes of The Joker in the future as we saw with Jared Leto will always be compared to with Heath Ledger. While some look to make correlations between Heath taking this iconic role and his untimely death. I like to remember Heath Ledger for what he left us with which is not only a single performance but a whole career that will be talked about for a number of decades.

Let me know what you think of Heath Ledger’s legacy 10 years later

What’s your favourite Joker scene/moment from The Dark Knight?

When it comes to comic book films will we ever see a better performance from a main villain?

 

 

Ranking Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy

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Christopher Nolan one of the great directors of this generation proved to be a perfect choice to bring back the Batman to the big screen

Without question the Dark Knight trilogy will go down as one of the best film trilogies ever. It’s Certainly one of the most successful we have seen grossing up to $2.5 billion worldwide across the three movies. This trilogy had wiped out the pain and nightmares of the Batman & Robin and Batman Forever films. So this trilogy not only revolutionised the character of Batman but the comic book film genre as a whole. However just like with everything in the world nothing is perfect and having recently re-watched the whole trilogy over the summer I’d like to give my personal view on how I would rank the individual movies.

3. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

After the heights of the Dark Knight this film had a really tough act to follow. With that being said I can’t hide the fact that this film is still probably one of Nolan’s worst films to me. Now don’t get me wrong if this film was made by another director it would most likely be their best film ever, it’s just that I have such high standards for Nolan. With this film I felt that Christopher Nolan was lazy here especially when it came to the minor details of the story writing.

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Bane one of the main downfalls of this movie, great to look at but when it comes to his plans and motivations he falls painfully short.

He left a lot of plot holes throughout the film when in previous project he would fill in with great detail. In Dark Knight Rises you start to have plot holes exist such as how did Bruce Wayne make it back to Gotham from the prison when Gotham was cut off from the rest of the country? How did Batman survive the bomb explosion with seconds to go on the timer? These issues transferred to main characters such a Bane who was a huge problem for me throughout this movie. This is nothing to do with Tom Hardy but I didn’t like the way Bane was used in this film. From being like a minion to his sister Talia al Ghul to the way he talked. I’m sorry but I found it hard trying not to laugh every time Bane opened his mouth. Not to mention the fact he created a bomb that would blow up in six months. Which I understand he wanted to see Gotham in ruins by turning it upside down, it just lacked the right execution.

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The ending scene to The Dark Knight Rises that has caused a lot of controversy amongst fans.

As I was watching this films climax I thought it was great that Batman would make the ultimate sacrifice saving Gotham. My feelings suddenly changed when it felt like Nolan had tricked me with Batman surviving. I hated this ending because it didn’t make sense with the universe Nolan had built. This was a universe where batman was just an idea, anyone could be the Batman such as John Blake’s character which was heavily teased. So with Bruce Wayne’s Batman dying it would have been the perfect ending for the trilogy. I do feel like this decision may have been influenced by the studio executives that didn’t want their audience to see Batman die.

2. Batman Begins (2005)

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The dawn of the new Batman with Christian Bale taking on the famous cowl.

Batman Begins is a film that I have come to appreciate a lot more as I’ve gotten older. Mind you I was around the age of 10 when I first saw this film. Now having a better understanding of Batman from various comics and previous films this is the best portrayal of the origins of Batman. This was the first serious take on Batman in a while, given the last time we saw Batman on the big screen it was in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin (1997). With this film and it’s focus on the origins of the character it was almost like a re-introduction of a new Batman to a different generation that didn’t grow up on the likes of Michael Keaton and Adam West.

We see the journey Bruce Wayne takes as a person who at first sets out for revenge for the death of his parents to someone who develops a moral compass whose main aim is to help clean up corruption in Gotham. The scene where Bruce Wayne is training with Ra’s al Ghul showed how in a split moment why he became the Batman as he refused to punish the criminal. This showed that Batman was not a punisher type of character and instead of killing people that did wrong he brought them to justice.

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Bruce Wayne’s training where the Batman was born choosing the side of justice instead of punishment

What I love about what Nolan does with Batman’s origin is showing us the link between bats and Bruce Wayne. From an early age Bruce had a fear of bats from watching that play in the theatres to having nightmares about them. The choice of Scarecrow as the main villain was great too as he linked with the main theme of the movie which is fear. Instead of embracing fear what made the Scarecrow such a threat to Batman was that he would use people’s fear against them. So Batman overcoming Scarecrow shows the full development of his character in how he embraced his main fear to the point where Scarecrow’s main ability was useless against him. So in 20 years’ time when someone asks me what to recommend to them if they want to get into batman I would tell them to start with this film. (mind you by the way hollywood works we might have 5 more Batman origin films by then)

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

Is anyone surprised that the Dark Knight is number one? This is a film that should be in everyone’s top ten films ever list regardless of what genres. Honestly I could write about this movie for hours (I’ll leave that to a future date). The Dark Knight in my opinion is Nolan’s best work ever even after watching his other critically acclaimed projects such as Memento and Inception. The story telling here is second to none from the character and their motivations, to the building of Gotham as a universe that felt so real. It really enforced how Batman was an idea and anyone could be a hero as shown with performances by John Blake to the convicts on the boat in the final act who choose not to detonate the bomb. There are so many great scenes that come to mind when I think of this film such as The Joker and Batman highway chase scene. I still remember my Jaw dropping and being on the edge of my seat when Rachel Dawes died, I couldn’t believe they took that kind of step in a comic book film.

Now people say that with Batman his villains can be more interesting than the caped crusader himself. That’s hard to disagree with when you have the likes of The Joker and Two-Face in this film. Two-Face who gets overshadowed by The Joker (for obvious reasons) is a great villain by himself in this movie. To see him transition from this hero like persona of Harvey Dent to this conflicted, angry and broken character is incredible. Not to mention the look of the character himself is amazing, much credit is deserved to the make-up artists and costumers in this film.

 

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Heath Ledger in one of his last roles provides and Iconic take on the Joker character that would earn him an Oscar for ‘Best supporting actor’

Although I have heaped a lot of praise on Nolan for this amazing film I think it’s time we talk about the real star of Dark Knight which is The Joker. Heath Ledger in my eyes will go down as being the best Joker ever in my opinion. His performance alone makes this the best film of the trilogy hands down. Everything about him fully embracing the character by coming up with The Joker’s appearance and mannerisms is something to stand in awe of. Every time he was on screen from that opening bank scene you couldn’t take your eyes off him. Given the character’s motivations of trying to create chaos and seeing Gotham burn he was so unpredictable you didn’t know what he would do next. The only sad note about the Joker in this film is that Heath never lived to see his creation play out on the big screen.

 

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Most importantly tell me how you would rank these films?

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