OK, so after this past week, a lot of things are wrapped up for “The Dark Knight.”
1. The biggest-grossing weekend ever in America: $158 million
2. The biggest non-holiday Monday ever: $24.6 million
3. The fastest movie to gross $100 million ever: 5 days
4. At the conclusion of the film (SPOILER ALERT!), Batman is wanted for multiple murders, including two police officers, and is universally hated by Gotham, in order to save the reputation of Harvey Dent.
5. We can assume then that Christian Bale must have some ulterior martyrdom behind his arrest Monday night in the U.K. because Batman would never beat up his Mom and sister.
6. With Heath Ledger forever burned in the minds of cinemagoers worldwide as the Joker, he is now irreplaceable in the series.
7. Which begs the question: Who’s next?
There it is: the unlucky number seven.
Obviously, (and no pun intended) being “dark” works for director Christopher Nolan’s Batman. From the way things are left in the movie, his Batman saga is only going to get darker. The screenplay already got very political in nature, exploring the fickle will of “the people” and juxtaposing it with one man’s fascist (and illegal: spying on the entire city!) method of bringing about justice, so there’s no reason to think Nolan, Bale and company will lighten anything up or change the “world” of Batman too radically. Maybe the next installment will be about torture…
The Joker fits in well with the Batman in this crime-infested setting where citizens are driven to madness by their deteriorating situations. Like Bruce Wayne, the Joker has no superpowers. The most dangerous thing about him is that he has no rules. How Nolan and his co-screenwriters will top the Joker for sheer dramatic premise without getting too supernatural? The last thing they want to do is break the reality they have carefully crafted; one that’s just a step away (granted, with masks and James Bond-like machinery and technology) from gritty cop shows like “The Wire” and “The Shield”?
Well, I guess we can rule one guy out. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the least likely villain to appear in the next Batman movie: Killer Croc!
I suppose if Nolan can reinvent the Joker after no less an actor than Jack Nicholson made him so memorable, he is capable of just about anything. The Penguin would fit right in as one of Gotham’s new crime bosses, since organized crime has such a stranglehold on the city. The Joker really made those guys look pretty impotent, though, if you ask me. It was good to see Eric Roberts back, but he wasn’t very threatening.
Mr. Freeze was ruined by Arnold Schwarzenegger and seems too ridiculous to live in Nolan’s Gotham. With the death of (SPOILER ALERT!) Rachel Dawes, “Batman 3″ could use some female action, though, so maybe Catwoman (deliciously devilish in the hands of Michelle Pfeiffer and deliriously dumb in the hands of Halle Berry) is up to bat. If Berry’s recent flop is too new in people’s memory, Nolan may be better off going with Poison Ivy (played by Uma Thurman in one of those horrible Joel Schumacher bat-nipple movies) or Talia al Ghul (the daughter of “Batman Begins”‘ Ra’s al Ghul, played by Liam Neeson).
My guess? It’s been long enough since Jim Carrey played him and he didn’t do too bad a job: the Riddler. He may not have the complete anarchic insanity that the Joker (who will probably be locked up in Arkham Asylum by now) has, but his diabolical cleverness could lead to more crazy traps and games to be sprung on Gotham, questioning their moral character even further.
Considering that “The Dark Knight” was written by the guys who also wrote the deep, labyrinthine logic of “Memento” and “The Prestige,” coming up with a whole new set of puzzles for the Riddler to hoist upon the Batman would be a great follow-up that wouldn’t alter the fabric of Gotham’s reality too much. (The Joker must have planned really, really far in advance for any of the shit he pulled off in “The Dark Knight” to have worked that well.) I just don’t think they’ll be able to use any of the likenesses seen on TV or in the movies so far. The one to the left is the least offensive one I could find.
What do you think?