Originally Posted by OutRiddled
Excellent post and good points.
But I gotta say, I obviously don't see the Ledger Joker as a "half-assed anarchist/Osama Bin Laden wannabe who wears war paint". I think you're downplaying it quite a bit (then again, that's exactly what The Joker is doing to Nicholson as well). In TDK, the Joker is brilliant and the right amount of sinister and fun in my opinion. You don't like the magic trick? You don't like "a little fight in ya"? Or his charisma? Or his Nurse disguise with the ironic "I Belive in Harvey Dent" sticker"? If you like Nicholson Joker, you must like the Ledger one right?
Like I said, those great clown characteristics are in there, Ledger plays them to a tee.
As for Batman and Joker "meeting" and "dueling" in person. I never felt that they actually had to physically meet and discuss everything from weather to politics to get that "epic" feeling of two titans duking it out, not just physically, but with their ideals and outlooks on life.
In Batman and The Dark Knight, the two of them don't really meet that often, they simply react to each other. In fact, both films take place in what, just a few days? A week or two at the most? In Batman, they're obviously at Axis together where the Joker is born. They see each other/hear about each other in the news. There's the few seconds at the Museum where Batman saves Vicki and fights his goons. There's also Axis when Batman isn't able to subdue Joker at the factory. Then of course, there's the parade and Cathedral in the film's climax.
The Dark Knight is similar, with just a little more Batman and Joker interaction, namely during the interrogation scene (though Batman is pretty much silent and more preoccupied as the clock counts down with Dent's life than what Joker has to say, besides the location). Before that, they meet at the party that is literally not even a minute long. Then there's the great street scene with the Batpod (just like the Batwing scene in '89). Instead of duking it out and subduing the Joker though, Batman literally plays possum and falls off his Batpod. Hell, up till that point, the Joker thought he was Harvey Dent anyway which, if you're worried about interactions between the two sort of deflates their "clash of the titans" relationship. Then after the interrogation scene, they don't meet again until the Prewitt sequence. It's probably no longer than the Cathedral, other than the dialogue (which is cut with the actual reactions in the Ferry). It's just like '89 Batman where Batman is getting to the top of the building, fighting off the Joker's goons. Instead of Batman pounding on the Joker like in '89 (I love the Joker's little gags to distract Batman, like the chattering teeth), the Joker is the one doing the beating to Batman at the end of TDK.
Unfortunately, while we get the fantastic "I think you and I are destined to do this forever speech", we never hear or see the Joker again (one of my biggest gripes with TDKR). He's simply retconned out of existence along with Ramirez, Reese and the other important key players from The Dark Knight. So Batman and Joker's feud is a couple of days long, does that detract from the impact the two of them have on each other? Batman literally spends most of his time trying to find the untraceable Joker (until his Sonar device of course).
What constitutes as Batman and the Joker meeting? Sitting down and having a cup of tea with a little chit chat? I don't need to see them punching each other or having long elaborate conversations. They don't have to meet for them to be epic rivals, '89 Batman and The Dark Knight prove this.
As for comic accuracy, while I prefer a nameless, low life criminal (not even Joe Chill per se) murdering Thomas and Martha Wayne, I don't mind Jack Napier murdering the Wayne's. It doesn't bother me at all. I can see what Burton was going for. He made it more personal and I love the whole "I made you, but you made me first". It's a nice twist to the lore, and doesn't really destroy the relationship Batman and the Joker have with each other in the film. In fact, even after the Joker is told, he doesn't seem to remember or care. That was another life, when he was Jack Napier, now he's the Joker. He continues to call Batman "Batsy", and wants him dead. He still sees him as Batman, nothing else. The murder aside, the personalities and traits of Batman and the Joker were always going to clash, just like in the comics. They're the exact opposites of each other in nearly every way. Batman is hidden, a loner, he works alone, everyone fears him, he should be the villain, he's a brooding monster. In fact, Gotham doesn't know what to make of him, even after he cracks the Joker's code. The Joker on the other hand, is again, the ultimate showman. He's out there, in the public, day and night. He loves attention, from his commercials to his announcements. He seeks a certain fame as the clown prince of crime and relishes in becoming the center of attention. He's the villain, he murders innocent Gothamites in various ways with agenda and outlook on life.
Before Batman even discovers that the Joker killed his parents, he's out there to stop him. Joker is in direct conflict with everything Batman represents. Was it about revenge when he saves Vicki at the Museum? He could have killed the Joker right then and there (and all of his goons for that matter). Was it about revenge when he foils the Joker's cosmetics plot when he discovers the ingredients and gives them to the press? Nope. It's simply about Batman eliminating crime and apprehending a madman, nothing more. He doesn't even KILL a criminal, thug, goon, etc. until he discovers that Jack Napier killed his parents. Batman is very much the figure he is in the comics, one that apprehends and leaves criminals shaking in their boots before the final act. Likewise, the Joker is just like his comic counterpart.
The murder and flashback (that flashback is brilliantly haunting and sad by the way, when Bruce thinks back to the night that created him) is a twist, a catalyst that doesn't take away from either character as far as I'm concerned. Before that they're still titans trying to outsmart and end each other. "He's psychotic", Batman despises the Joker because the Joker is everything Batman is not. They're the exact opposites, antitheses of each other. Like wise, the Joker is the same way. Remember how infuriated he is when Batman continues to thwart every plan the Joker has? Or when Batman gets the media's attention? It bothers him. This is the same man that "dropped him into the vat of chemicals", now, not only has he created him, but he's ruining everything he believes in and conjures up.
The Dark Knight is the same way, just even more fleshed out (as it should be with the progression of the characters and 20+ years of evolution). It doesn't matter if Batman didn't CREATE the Joker in a vat of chemicals or physically deforming him, a key component to the mythology. It's the characters alone, the Dark Knight character, and the Clown Prince of Crime character that makes it impossible for them not to clash. They have completely different ideologies, just like in '89. They don't have to be punching each other or meeting up to get this idea. Joker even says that the fight for Gotham's soul isn't about a fist fight with Batman. It's all about the characters and their reactions to each other. You see Bruce's expression when he watches the Joker on his monitors in the Batbunker, you see the Joker's reaction to Batman. THAT is what's important.
Comic accuracy be damned, imo. It doesn't matter if Jack Napier killed Bruce's parents in '89 or if Ledger wasn't created by Batman in TDK. You still get that sense that they contrast each other by personalities alone. I'll tell you what they both do though, they both damage Batman emotionally in a BIG way. In '89, The Joker obviously kills Bruce Wayne's parents. That's huge. What does the Joker do in The Dark Knight? He also kills one of the most important people in Bruce's life, Rachel Dawes. This is similar to the comics where the Joker kills Jason Todd and it has a lasting impact on Batman, emotionally and mentally. I don't see the problem with either. In fact, the same scene plays, music and all, when Bruce is mourning Rachel in the penthouse. It's the same sequence as the first film where he's a child and blames himself for the death of his parents. Alfred is there comforting and supporting him (asking him if he wants something to eat) and the same emotion and music is playing. So, even in that aspect, both Joker's do the same amount of damage. It doesn't matter who or what. Parents or girlfriends. It's still there.