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New 'Batman' names its Joker
Heath Ledger to take on role of criminal mastermind

Tuesday, August 1, 2006; Posted: 3:52 p.m. EDT (19:52 GMT)

LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) -- Batman is heading into a sequel, titled "The Dark Knight," and he will face off against the Joker, this time played by Heath Ledger.

Christian Bale, the star of last year's "Batman Begins," will reprise his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Christopher Nolan is returning to the directing chair.

Ledger, Oscar-nominated this year for his role in "Brokeback Mountain," resurrects a murderous role memorably played in 1989 by Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton's "Batman."

"Batman Begins" was a critical and commercial hit, and relaunched the Warner Bros. franchise.

An early 2007 start date is being eyed for the sequel. Before then, Bale and Nolan will be in theaters this fall with the Disney release "The Prestige."
When I first heard the news I was a bit....taken aback. Ledger doesn't strike me as the sort who'll come across with that murderous glee in his eyes. Others I've talk to about the subject have the same feeling, while there are those who comment that both Nolan and Ledger are professionals, and that Nolan wouldn't have cast Heath unless he was certain of the man's ability to portray the character. I can't say I'm happy about the casting decision at this point, but I also won't get upset about it unless Heath finds a way to ruin the Joker.