Chicago fire, fake Joker photo causes uproar

There has been quite a lot of news and controversy lately surrounding the upcoming Batman film. So, pardon me since I've focused on "The Dark Knight" ("TDK") for two columns in a row. On April 22, a fire broke out on the roof of the 17-story former Chicago Post Office, where the "TDK" crew was filming a scene involving The Joker's henchmen, a school bus and the Gotham National Bank. Authorities attributed the cause of the fire to an electrical short from a fan igniting some nearby garbage or insulation. Firefighters told CBS 2 that the incident, which stopped production for about an hour, had nothing to do with "TDK." So much for The Joker getting blamed for more Gotham City mayhem.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

There has been quite a lot of news and controversy lately surrounding the upcoming Batman film. So, pardon me since I've focused on "The Dark Knight" ("TDK") for two columns in a row.

On April 22, a fire broke out on the roof of the 17-story former Chicago Post Office, where the "TDK" crew was filming a scene involving The Joker's henchmen, a school bus and the Gotham National Bank.

Authorities attributed the cause of the fire to an electrical short from a fan igniting some nearby garbage or insulation. Firefighters told CBS 2 that the incident, which stopped production for about an hour, had nothing to do with "TDK."

So much for The Joker getting blamed for more Gotham City mayhem.

On the other hand, the Clown Prince of Crime caused an Internet uproar when a fan posted a fake head shot of actor Heath Ledger in The Joker's make-up. Naturally, online fans began saying it was the real deal, since the photo had the Warner Bros. seal in the corner.

The person later admitted he had faked the mug shot on his computer by combining a mug shot of Ledger with a "Lord of the Rings" test shot of Orlando Bloom holding a color palette board.

Actually, this non-story brings up a great point: Getting a "first glimpse" of a character in a highly anticipated film ultimately spoils the movie-going experience.

Back in the dark ages before the Internet, genre magazines like Starlog were fans' only sources to see what someone looked like in a movie. That's how I first saw Michael Keaton in the 1989 "Batman" armor as well as the amazing Batmobile before Tim Burton's film was released. And I'm positive that strictly came from promotional photos Warner Bros. released to the magazine.

That's not the case anymore. Trying to avoid seeing grainy footage from a fan's camera or supposedly "leaked" photo from a film set on the Internet is like going into a comic book store without seeing a super hero publication.

Which is why I respect Batman-on-film.com Webmaster Bill Ramey's policy on reporting spoilers: "BOF DOES NOT post information that would ruin the enjoyment of the film, but DOES get people excited and interested in the 'Batman' film series."

Any piece of BOF "news" that contains the least little bit of something that may tell fans more than they want to know features the word "spoiler" in capital red letters. Internet users even have to run their mouse over some postings in order to see them.

Thank you, Bill, for fighting the good fight!

Don't get me wrong. I'm anxious, to say the least, to know what "TDK" director Christopher Nolan has in store for his onscreen version of The Joker. But please, postpone "the Big Reveal" as long as possible!

Just for fun, let's hear from veteran comic book collector Mark Willis, who e-mailed me about what he wants the "new" Joker to be. In short, he believes Ledger is an unconventional casting choice who will do well.

Most importantly, Willis, who has collected comics for more than 30 years, said he wants the "TDK" Joker to stay true to the comics. The lifelong Batman fan said he doesn't want to see the villain as he's been portrayed lately bloodthirsty and wicked, basically a variation of Hannibal Lecter.

"I think of The Joker as a nasty prankster, somewhat off his rocker, eccentric and idiosyncratic who always did his gags and heists with a sense of flair and presentation," Willis wrote. "He was a thief with some henchmen and a deadly sense of humor, but he wasn't insane."

All this is fun, but guess what? I'm waiting for July 18, 2008 to see how Nolan and Ledger will reintroduce us to the greatest comic book villain ever.