New Article from Action-figure.com http://www.action-figure.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=22575 Thought it deserved its own thread. In the face of shocking news on the death of Heath Ledger, we take a look at how Warner Brothers and the public at large are now receiving a man called The Joker... Batman: The Dark Knight is the long anticipated sequel to Batman Begins, released in 2005. A meager two years ago but for die hard Bat-Fans, it seems like a lifetime, especially when the first film ended with a major teaser in the Joker mention. This reveal was so powerful, it was practically a cliffhanger. Now we are still six months off from the July 18th scheduled release date and sadly, there has been a death in the family. Heath Ledger is found dead in his New York apartment with prescription drugs scattered around him. Instantly, news agencies began probing the life of this loving father, hoping to dig up some corpses in his various closets. The pills surrounding him, no doubt, speak of suicide. We at Action-figure would like to think it was an accident, as he never seemed selfish and had so much to live for .but that doesnt make for thrilling news, so the reporters will continue their probing, seemingly only finding the devastated faces of the people who loved him as they pass. As blogs and TV shows run out of sensational speculation, we are left with a building rumor, not without some merit. Ledgers last role would be as The Joker, a deeply disturbing character as iconic as Batman himself in pop culture history. The Joker is a killer without morals, driven by his insanity and bolstered by a genius level intellect to commit acts a normal person would never even dream in their most horrible nightmares. Some actors, in their process, absorb a character fully to become them for a time to heighten reality and answer any questions that may come up. How might the character respond to this situation how would he sound? Ledgers Batman co-stars have all been quoted as saying his portrayal as The Joker is the real show stopper, describing Ledger as extraordinary and chilling. Hollywood insiders have seen close to 10 minutes of footage and say Ledgers Joker is very menacing and scary. At the end of the day, how do you divest yourself of so much darkness? This is the new question being asked, with little story left to write. Could taking on a role so dark and twisted send a man into such a state of being that it is painful to continue living? Could The Joker kill his portrayer? I could see the sensational headlines now in bold 2 inch high print. THE JOKER DID IT! While it is an interesting thought and, no doubt, would make an excellent movie script, the idea is a bit comical. The same actors who utilize this process of absorbing a character also have a method of shedding it at shootings end. A sort of detoxification, if you will. Knowing that, it is incredibly hard to believe a man who loved his child and the work he is in so completely would fall victim to an all encompassing depression that would drive him to end his life. Wed like to believe Ledger was stronger than that. This may be our conclusion, but Warner Brothers has heard these rumors as well and is now in a bit of a panic. At the recent UK Toyfair, all Joker imagery was pulled from the floor, including product from companies like DC Direct, leaving little name tags behind announcing said product, sitting in front of empty shelving (AS SEEN HERE). That is what we would call putting a Band-Aid on a bullet hole, since out in the world, the Dark Knight ad campaign is in full swing with teaser posters starring Ledgers Joker slated to dominate until March. The issue has also become one of sensitivity. A man has died and soon, the global market place will be flooded with action figures, statues, posters, t shirts and so on, all with that mans face on it. Reports came in that Warner had been considering re-shooting all of Ledgers scenes (which weve learned has been nixed). So the question remains, with an army of companies set to launch product based on Batman: The Dark Knight, how do you diminish the importance of the films main villain? Id had this very discussion in a small screening house in New York with managing editor of Fangoria magazine, Mike Gingold. He wondered how Warner, and to a larger degree, companies with licenses would respond to Heath Ledgers death. I said that some companies, who may not already be in production, might cut The Joker out of their product line. The rest will carry on. The fact of the matter is, Batman is not a cheap license. It never has been and never will be. Companies are paying top dollar to merchandise this film and they will move forward with their plans in the face of such sad developments. Does this seem like a cold stance to you? Perhaps, if you are extremely sensitive. The simple fact is Batman: The Dark Knight is Heath Ledgers last film. Do we sweep this performance under the proverbial rug or do we honor the man by celebrating what is said to be an outstanding performance? I, for one, feel the latter. This is the Batman film weve been buzzing across the internet about. Though Ledgers passing is profoundly sad, Id rather clap at the end of the film, honoring the man, than leave with a little dark cloud hanging over my head and Im positive Ledger wouldn't want it any other way. This is set to be an amazing film. Lets continue to enjoy its arrival and celebrate a man and his achievements at the same time. Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Heath Ledger and July cant get here fast enough for me.