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David Goyer Says Warner Bros. Wanted An Origin Story For The Dark Knight’s Joker

July 31, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
The Dark Knight The Joker Heath Ledger Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight’s is iconic, but he was almost very different thanks to Warner Bros. wanting an origin story for him. David Goyer, who co-developed the story for the film with director Christopher Nolan, did a Q&A for [email protected] over last weekend and revealed that the studio pushed hard for the character to have some sort of backstory.

“You talk about [storytelling] conventions. Another convention based on the superhero films that had come out prior to that — the Sam Raimi Spider-Mans, and the previous Batman films, and The X-Men films is that you see an elaborate origin story of the villain in the film,” Goyer said. “And I do remember when we were talking about, ‘Well what if the Joker doesn’t really have an origin story?’ Even after the success of Batman Begins that was considered a very controversial thing and we got a lot of push-back.”

He continued, “People were worried. ‘Well, you have to have an origin story. How can you not have, or how can people just not know?’ But I just remember the discussions at the time were that it was scarier. And I think it was scarier.”

The origin of Ledger’s Joker is never revealed in the film; in a nod to the comics, the character offers several differing stories on how he got his scars but there’s no evidence that any of them are real. Ledger would of course win a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film, which grossed a massive $1.038 billion worldwide when it released in 2008. Nolan would complete his trilogy in 2012 with the also massively successful but less well-regarded The Dark Knight Returns.