[Update: Christopher Nolan has stated that he has no plans to include  a Ledger cameo in the upcoming film. Ledger’s Joker will not be featured in The Dark Knight Rises.]

Now that Chris Nolan is starting work on his next Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, rumors about the movie are coming at us almost daily. Today brings a new bit of speculation that is almost too wild to report – if not for the fact that I endorsed it myself a year ago.

The rumor – coming our way via Showbiz Spy – is that Chris Nolan and Co. will employ of combination of unused footage from Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight with bits of CGI to create a scene in Batman 3 where there would be a “cinematic nod” to the late actor and the impact his Oscar-winning performance had on Nolan’s Batman sequel.

Here’s a quote from the Showbiz Spy “Insider.” Be sure to swallow your salt tabs first:

“The idea is to use these fragments of cut scenes and use CGI to have The Joker appear one last time…Chris wants some continuity between movies and for the franchise to pay tribute to Heath and his portrayal of the Joker…It would only be a fleeting moment in the movie and would only be included with the full consent of Heath’s family.”

At the extreme risk of massaging my own ego, I would imagine that if  (IF) this unsubstantiated rumor materialized as truth, the “fleeting moment” in question would likely be a scenario I suggested over a year ago when I asked you, the readers, if Joker and Two-Face should return for Dark Knight Rises. Here’s the scene, as I envisioned it at the time:

I myself have proposed…a cinematic nod to The Joker – much like Iron Man did with War Machine. Picture: You do a scene where a main character (Batman) walks past The Joker’s padded cell in Arkham Asylum and all we see are his eyes, or maybe just his lipstick grin through a window. In the end, that main character keeps on his/her way, not yet ready – both literally and metaphorically – to “open that door” just yet. Cue a voice-over of Heath’s nasally laugh… It’s really the most honest, yet entertaining, way to address this sticky situation.

Now some people are going to be up in arms about the notion of manipulating a dead actor’s image for “the sake of entertainment” or “box office cash grabbing,” but I for one wouldn’t find it offensive or in bad taste to have Ledger appear in Dark Knight Rises. Using the performances of deceased entertainers is something that’s being done all the time – the taste or distaste really depends on context.

Using Jimi Hendrix’s image to, say, sell Snuggies? Bad taste. Using film technology to allow Celine Dion and Elvis Presley to appear together onstage for a smashing duet? Fine taste.

It really depends on context.

As far as this Heath Ledger/Joker appearance in The Dark Knight Rises goes: they only audience reaction I can foresee are whoops and applause when Leger’s face appears onscreen in that white makeup for that fleeting moment. And if that’s the last experience we are to have with one of acting’s greats on the silver screen, would that really be so wrong? There is the fact that Nolan himself has said on several occasions that he would never do something like this…so unless his feelings about Heath’s passing have changed drastically in the time since, don’t get too excited for this to happen.

I’m sure this rumor is going to shake up some immediate and decisive responses, so stay tuned to see what pans out. In the meantime, would you be for or against a move like this?

Update: Moviehole received word from a Warner Bros. contact that speculation surrounding Heath Ledger appearing as the Joker in The Dark Knight Rises is false:

“It’s just not real.”

The Dark Knight Rises will be in theaters and IMAX on July 20, 2012.

Source: Showbiz Spy