Joker Scene in The Dark Knight Too Disturbing? POSSIBLE SPOILER

Hollywood is here to make money and to shy away from controversy — at least when the movie doesn’t need it, as the current Batman outing clearly does not — which may explain why a very specific scene in “The Dark Knight” that features the Joker (as played by the recently departed Heath Ledger) may be excised from the film. It was found to be, according to this Cinema Blend report, too disturbing for viewers during recent screenings around the country. As a warning, this article MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS, but it’s required to spell out the scene in order to talk about it. You have been warned.

Here’s what CinemaBlend said:

The scene involves Ledger’s Joker character pretending to be dead and being pictured in a body bag. Apparently the aftershocks of Ledger’s unfortunate death are such that many in the screening reacted rather badly to this moment and now execs are considering excising the scene altogether.

Although the Cinema Blend writer refers to the removal of this one scene (should they decide to actually do it, mind you) as “butchering” the product, and all the readers who have commented seem to agree with him, I must take the other side.

Here is my reasoning: This is apparently just a “gag” by the Joker — the article says the Joker is pretending to be dead in the scene, and is being pictured in a body bag. This is not even the character’s actual death scene (if he does, in fact, die in the movie).

Now, if the removal of the scene changes the spine of the narrative completely, then removing it would be harsh. But if it doesn’t, and is, as I suspect, just a blink-and-you’ll-miss second or two in the movie, and it spares Ledger’s friends and family from having to visualize their love one in a body bag — really, where is the debate?

Here’s my final say on this story: It’s up to Nolan. If he says the scene doesn’t matter and can be snipped, that should be the end of the story. But if he says it’s necessary and fights the removal of the scene, then Warner is making a mistake. ‘Nuff said.


Via Obsessed With Film, who has more information on the Joker body bag scene, and what it means to the rest of the movie:

According to the review a few days ago the scene [in question] was pretty much inconspicuous with the rest of the feature and does not effect the plot at all, it could easily be removed without anyone ever noticing.

The above is based on an early review by a Brazilian journalist over at Batman-on-Film, which says:

“Another scene with Ledger/The Joker playing dead inside a body bag caused adverse reactions in the audience, for obvious reasons — it will possibly be cut. (I hope not!)”

Don’t know if the review comes from a screening in Brazil, or a Brazilian journalist in America who saw the screening. Either/or, I suppose.

Update: 4/11/08

Moviehole has a source that claims the scene remains intact:

A source close to the “The Dark Knight” told us this morning that the film remains in-tact – and nothing of Ledger’s will be cut from the movie, including the body-bag scene. ‘’I KNOW for a fact that that scene is in the film. I also know that WB has made no such mandate and that Chris [Nolan] is honest when saying that he will not change what was intended with The Joker.”

‘Nuff said?

Joker in The Dark Knight