Re: How much did Ledgers death change the ending of DK?
Well, i believe that things happen for a reason. Im not a religious person but im a spiritual dude. He was meant to die early, in my opinion, so there's no use in thinking of "what could have been". TDKR was our destiny whether people liked it or not. With that said, he definitely would have returned. There's no two ways about it. But i don't think he would have had a lot of scenes with Batman. Maybe none. He would have been in a padded cell. Not a main villain role.
There's no other story that Nolan wanted to tell other than one that was a conclusion + a villain that was polar opposite of Joker. So we either would have had Bane or Nolan would have passed the franchise over to another. And i dont think Ledger would have returned if it wasn't Nolan. But who knows, maybe he had to, like Bale. Which leads me to believe that Nolan would have came back in order to not bail on Ledger or Bale. Which brings me right back to the conclusion + Bane/Catwoman + Joker in a supporting role.
"Lets make one thing very clear here - Nolan's films are as faithful an adaptation as there is. It pays homage to its source material, remains true to its characters and above all else places the story first and foremost." - jmc