Christopher Nolan may have successfully put a cap on his Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises but that doesn't mean that all of our questions were answered. During a lengthy special edition of the Screen Rant Underground podcast, one (of several) questions that interested the Screen Rant editorial team was the location of Heath Ledger's iconic villain, The Joker. Nolan had openly commented that the film would not reference the fan-favorite character, out of respect for the now-deceased actor, but a real-world explanation didn't stop fans from speculating on where the "Clown Prince of Crime" might have been during Bane's assault on Gotham City.
Now we've got a minute tease regarding the location of The Joker at the time of The Dark Knight Rises - by way of the film's novelization tie-in - and, much like the enigmatic villain, his location is still pretty mysterious.
An excerpt from The Dark Knight Rises: The Official Novelization, by Greg Cox, offers insight into where The Joker might have been holed-up - without, in keeping with the Nolan approach, outright grounding speculation with a firm answer:
"Now that the Dent Act had made it all but impossible for the city’s criminals to cop an insanity plea, it (Blackgate Prison) had replaced Arkham Asylum as a preferred location for imprisoning both convicted and suspected felons. The worst of the worst were sent here, except for the Joker, who, rumor had it, was locked away as Arkham’s sole remaining inmate. Or perhaps he had escaped. Nobody was really sure. Not even Selina."
The mention of Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman) is an interesting tidbit that is not developed, leading to further questions about the anti-heroine's past - possibly the reason she was so eager for a "fresh start"? Of course, a more likely purpose for namedropping the character could be, with Batman out of the game, Kyle had taken-up the Caped Crusader's penchant for hacking into law enforcement databases. Batman does, after all, question Kyle about Bane and his mercenaries.
It's definitely commendable that the director didn't want to alter Ledger's interpretation of the villain by shoe-horning him into The Dark Knight Rises storyline; however, there's no doubt that the character's presence was missed - especially since he's not even referenced by name - and other characters from prior installments reappear. Ultimately, the novelization "explanation" is definitely fun to think about - Ledger's Joker alone in the ruins of Arkham Asylum (or not) - even if it doesn't actually provide the kind of closure that some fans might have hoped. That said, who wants closure on such iconic characters? Isn't it more fun to think about caped heroes and costumed villains locked in an eternal struggle of cat and mouse - or as the Joker reasoned:
"You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won't kill you because you're just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever."
Where the novelization gave further insight into the potential fate of The Joker, The Art and Making of the Dark Knight Trilogy offers a candid look into the creation of The Dark Knight Rises' leading man, Bane (played by Tom Hardy).
Screen Rant regulars will likely remember that the art book also features an emotional goodbye letter to Batman from Nolan. However, as expected, it's also chock full with cool pre-production artwork including a look at early sketches of Bane's mask as well as a better look at the Batcave.
Check out a few handpicked images below (or head over to Comic Book Movie for a larger spread):
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Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on The Dark Knight Rises as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.
The Dark Knight Rises is now open in U.S. theaters (2D and IMAX).