(Welcome to The Dark Knight Legacy, a series of articles that explore Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece in celebration of its 10th anniversary.)

A decade ago, Christopher Nolan stepped into an echelon that only a few filmmakers occupy, wherein moviegoers around the world know his name as well as they know any movie star. Only a handful of directors — Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese — can claim entrée into this exclusive club. For Nolan, it’s thanks to his second superhero film, The Dark Knight, celebrating its tenth anniversary this week. There are many reasons why The Dark Knight remains an incredible, exciting, if still very disquieting blockbuster; perhaps the biggest reason of all is the conception, in writing, directing and performing, of Batman’s most feared villain, the Joker.

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Dark Knight Anniversary

(Welcome to The Dark Knight Legacy, a series of articles that explore Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece in celebration of its 10th anniversary.)

This week, The Dark Knight turns 10 years old. Its legacy still looms large, for better and worse. Here is the story of how Christopher Nolan changed the face of superhero movies forever. The story of how one movie proved that comic book adaptations could be a lot more than kids stuff. And the story of how some of it backfired, giving birth to a new era of fandom that just wanted to watch the world burn.

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the dark knight joker theory

It’s been a decade since The Dark Knight hit theaters and shattered comic book movie conventions with its dark, psychological crime drama and its iconic villain played by a revelatory Heath Ledger. But as Christopher Nolan‘s Batman movie nears its 10th birthday, actor and certified geek Patton Oswalt is bringing the film back into the headlines with a fresh new fan theory about Ledger’s agent of chaos, the Joker. And his The Dark Knight Joker theory has a pretty compelling explanation about where the Joker got his scars.

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joaquin phoenix joker

In case you forgot, a Joker origin movie directed by The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips, written by 8 Mile scribe Scott Silver, and executive produced by Martin Scorsese is happening. Though the movie still sounds like someone threw a bunch of Film Twitter words into an online generator, the Warner Bros. movie continues to be a very real project.

The only element of the film that sounds remotely real (Scorsese? Really!?) is the potential casting of Joaquin Phoenix as the Clown Prince of Crime. And while Phoenix has remained coy on whether he had signed on for the role, he did have some intriguing things to say about the character’s legacy and Heath Ledger‘s Oscar-winning turn.

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Mark Hamill Walk of Fame

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, watch Star Wars saga cast member Mark Hamill receive his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Plus, find out why the Academy Awards often honor those actors who partake in method acting, and watch a stop-motion LEGO recreation of the action-packed Pacific Rim: Uprising trailer. Read More »

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heath ledger joker

10 years later, Heath Ledger‘s tragic passing still stings. The 28-year-old actor was just at the beginning of a meteoric rise to stardom, collecting an Oscar nomination for his work in 2005’s profoundly affecting Brokeback Mountain and giving a career-defining performance as the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight, for which he would earn a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

The Joker would become the performance he was most remembered for and his last starring role (aside from a posthumous appearance in The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus). But the character’s fate at the end of The Dark Knight always had viewers wondering if there was an intent to bring the Joker back before Ledger’s untimely death. Now, a decade later, Ledger’s sister reveals that there was.

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I Am Heath Ledger Trailer

Spike usually doesn’t have much to offer in the vein of quality entertainment, but the one worthwhile endeavor they do bring to the table is their ongoing series of feature length documentaries. The network has examined pop culture sensations such as Chris Farley and Johnny Cash, and now their latest documentary shines a light on the life and death of Heath Ledger.

The star of The Dark Knight died tragically in 2008 before his performance as The Joker was seen by audiences, but it was a role that would be one of the pinnacle pieces of his all too short career. I Am Heath Ledger takes never before seen footage from the actor’s personal video collection, interviews with famous friends and colleagues, and more to create a portrait of a talented young man who was taken from us all too soon.

Watch the I Am Heath Ledger trailer after the jump.
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Dark Knight Joker theory

It sounds like the internet must have some kind of obsession with turning heroes to villains and vice versa. Hot on the heels of a video essay saying that Daniel LaRusso was actually the villain in The Karate Kid, and a fanmade trailer that turns Harry Potter into the villain of the fantasy franchise, a new fan theory for The Dark Knight has proposed that The Joker could be considered the hero truly responsible for saving Gotham City instead of Batman.

The new theory lays out some pretty compelling evidence for how the seemingly anarchistic plans of The Joker are actually all part of a plan to clean up the corruption of Gotham City, from the police department to its latest vigilante. Learn more about The Dark Knight Joker theory below! Read More »

Heath Ledger Joker

Heath Ledger‘s final performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight may be the most beloved of his too-short career. A recently resurfaced clip from a documentary titled Heath Ledger: Too Young to Die offers a little peek into his chilling mindset as he prepared for that iconic role. See the Heath Ledger Joker diary clip after the jump. Read More »

Heath Ledger Joker

Of the many comic book movie villains we’ve seen paraded across the big screen in the past 15 years, one of the most memorable has been Heath Ledger‘s Joker from The Dark Knight. The young actor made the classic character entirely his own, imbuing him with an oddly charismatic menace that’s been impossible to forget.

The role was colored by tragedy, however, when Ledger passed away months before the film’s opening. It’s terribly sad to realize we’ll never get to see this talented star at work again, but at least we can continue to appreciate his contribution to the cinematic landscape. In a recently revealed clip from the German documentary series Too Young to Die, Ledger’s father Kim Ledger takes a peek inside his son’s “Joker diary” from the Dark Knight shoot. Hit the jump to check it out.

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