Grim and Gritty
Perhaps the most well-loved and famous portrayal of the character, Heath Ledger’s Joker in the 2008 film, “The Dark Knight,” was a masterwork in acting. Responding to a post-9/11 America in fear of terrorism, Ledger’s Joker is a study in anarchy and fear-mongering.
Leaving all traces of Romero’s light-heartedness behind, Ledger’s Joker is, in a word, a terrorist. While still possessing the theatricality of the previous incarnations of the Joker—the visual and physical style which runs through every portrayal—Ledger brings a new seriousness to the role.
This Joker, more than any before, is truly terrifying, and is so because of his motivations—as Alfred wisely says, “Some men just want to watch the world burn”.
This Joker pushes you. He terrifies you, enrages you, and drives you to the brink of madness. He wants to show you how pathetic and meaningless your plans are. And when you’re broken, he wants you to show the world that you’re truly, deep down in your deepest of hearts, just like him, even if that means placing a gun in your hand, putting the barrel to his own forehead, and encouraging you to pull the trigger.
And scary thing is, after watching the film, you know that he can succeed.