Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight was the highest-grossing film in 2008. As well, it still remains one of the most critically-acclaimed Batman films of all time. However, a large part of the movie was almost completely changed.
The Dark Knight co-writer David S. Goyer has revealed that Warner Bros. initially pushed for Joker to have an origin story in the film. The inclusion of a Joker backstory could have vastly changed the storyline and portrayal of the villain by late actor Heath Ledger.
Ledger went on to posthumously win the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Joker. To this day, his role remains one of the most respected and critically-acclaimed in the Batman franchise. However, The Dark Knight‘s Joker could have been very different.
Goyer recently took part in a virtual Comic-Con interview. During the discussion, he reveals that he and Nolan intended to not give Joker a backstory in the DC film. However, this led to Warner Bros. really pushing for Joker to have an origin story. The company believed that a lack of backstory could confuse moviegoers.
“I do remember when we were talking about, ‘Well, what if the Joker doesn’t really have an origin story?,'” he says. “Even after the success of Batman Begins, that was considered a very controversial thing, and we got a lot of push-back. People were worried. ‘Well you have to have an origin story. How can people just not know?’ I just remember the discussions at the time were that it was scarier, and it was scarier.”
Of course, eventually, Goyer and Nolan got their way and Joker’s backstory does not appear in The Dark Knight. Considering Joker seems to have a different origin story in almost every adaptation, the Joker’s vague backstory in The Dark Knight works.
In fact, his lack of backstory gets played into through The Dark Knight. Various scenes show Joker coming up with new stories on how he got the scars on his face. In the end, we don’t know whether he was telling the truth or lying about it.
For some, a Joker origin story in the film would have provided more insight into the character. However, the lack of his origin further created his unsettling presence. Perhaps the origin story would have revealed how the Joker really got the scars on his face, but sometimes it’s nice to have a villain who remains a mystery.
We’ve seen various Joker adaptations over the years, all with different origin stories. 1989’s Batman shows the villain as a gangster named Jack Napier who murdered Bruce Wayne‘s parents. Then, during a fight, Batman causes Joker to land in a vat of acid.
Most recently, we were given a major Joker backstory in Todd Phillips‘ award-winning adaptation starring Joaquin Phoenix. In the latest film, Joker is a bullied and depressed clown who dreams of being a successful comedian. However, the character slowly descended into madness and eventually becomes the well-known villain.
David S. Goyer’s full virtual Comic-Con interview is available to watch below.
Would you have wanted to see a Joker origin story in The Dark Knight? Let us know in the comments below.