Why Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight ruined the DCU

Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight was one in a lifetime sort of thing. Truth be told, his superb performance accounted for the movie’s success.The idea is that comic book adaptations have always been a mix between comedy and drama. Lighthearted at best, with some dark tones here and there and, you know, the whole “we’ve got to save the world thing.”

But The Dark Knight was different. Dark in ways that we have yet too see in a comic book adaptation. Could well be defined as a psychological thriller, with the Joker posing an intriguing question about sanity and why we do what we do. The dichotomy of  good and evil that is ever present in such films takes a new meaning here. It becomes something different. It becomes a lot more nuanced, more difficult to understand.

This movie is a brilliant one. And, for a long time, is going to be the best comic book adaptation ever. The best movie inspired by comics, the best superhero movie, and probably Heath Ledger will spend decades as the best villain, and the best performance as the Joker.

Because of all this, now it’s difficult to watch a movie that takes place in the DCU. I couldn’t take Suicide Squad seriously because Jared Leto does a very poor performance as the Joker. Also, trying to emulate this dark tone, but in a different fashion, hasn’t worked very well for all the other movies.

And, yes, we should all lower our expectations, because, truth be told, comic book adaptations have never even tried to achieve what the Dark Knight managed to do.

We should appreciate it as a wonderful work of art, but shouldn’t ask for other superhero movies to rise to the same level.

Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus, Heath Ledger’s most brilliant performance. It’s going to take a long time to see a movie of this grandeur and level of perfection. Decades, if maybe not longer.

Until then, we should just enjoy the movies in the DCU as being on a lower level. Entertainment and nothing more.

I just hope the guys over at DC realize this before they screw everything up.

12 thoughts on “Why Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight ruined the DCU

  1. Heath Ledger was an amazing actor. I’ve never cried when a celebrity died, but I bawled when he died. His Joker was fan-fucking-tastic. Personally, I don’t think Leto does a horrible job as Joker but he was nowhere near matched to Ledger but no one will ever capture the Joker like him. He put Jack Nicholson to shame. Sorry, big Batman & Joker fan. lol


  2. Agreed. Great movie indeed, and a worthy summation of a review. Makes me want to go back and watch it all over again. Speaking of Suicide Squad, I reckon Margot Robbie belongs more to Heath Ledger’s Joker than Jared Leto’s. 🤓

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Heath also ruined the series because it made you connect to the villain. Joker was not seen as the bad guy, but more so a guy who received the short end of the stick in society. Born into poverty and turned to crime. Batman is born wealthy, fighting crime against people who generally come from a lower class. You saw the villain get revenge and it felt good to an audience.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I understand you, but I see it different. I see suicide squad as a different dimension (lighter, brighter in colours and more true-to-life had they not removed the bits and pieces they did from the film which make Mr.J very relatable in a dark way. I found the most value hidden from suicide squad, as in, while researching it That is when i saw Jared’s genius with mr.j). But Jared and Heath’s take on the Joker were necesarry, valuable and important. They each provoked different parts of the collective’s eye. Exposing more pieces of the darkness from whence The wild card, The Joker, comes. Behind the Joker exists the Boogey Man (It) and they are all very much alive, very much real and very much Active participants in this world. I love your spin on this. You are completely accurate. But, open your eyes to the details a little bit more and you will see what i mean.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amen! For the Joker and “question sanity” part….Comic book adaptation part, however….I think, Nolan, did what he likes to do most – screw everyone with their “wishes and expectations” and did his own thing – entirely 🙂
    Dark Night is not a comic adaptation movie. It’s Nolan’s movie and that’s that 🙂


  6. I find things a little differently. DC has always been the ‘dark side’ of comics.
    However, The Dark Knight was filmed and released prior to the 2008 collapse. Suicide Squad was a 2016 release, and had another agenda in mind. That of utilizing multiple action characters to assure an audience participation.,.everything, always, is about revenues.
    Even in the newly released Justice League, there are therefore more comedic scenes attempting to gain that audience. Don’t believe me? Count the comedic scenes in The Dark Knight, and then each ensuing movie release from that date till now. They have almost doubled. Especially in Thor
    Ragnarok. There should be no comedy within the film, yet is half filled it.


  7. Heath Ledger didn’t ruin the DCU. His performance merely exposed the public’s obsession with “the hero’s journey” monologue. we’re such glory hounds, so we automatically want to identify with the hero. And as you stated, because of that, we have to dumb down our expectations; heaven forbid, DC decides to take down the quarantine signs and caution and allow the fans to venture into that neck of the woods, again.


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