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Forget Jack: Heath’s The REAL Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’

I braved the rain, fog and a 160-mile round trip to San Antonio Friday just to spend five minutes examining The Dark Knight‘s arch nemesis The Joker, as channeled by Aussie Academy Award nominee Heath Ledger, in a very well publicized prologue sequence preceding the IMAX debut of I Am Legend.

Understanding that no human can live a day without avoiding a good justification, I made the gray, grim and gritty drive down I-35 already expecting to be pleased with the action sequence as teased in the IMAX featurette by director Christopher Nolan. The $64,000 question posed by many in this space and comic shops all over — will Ledger’s turn as the Clown Prince of Crime be almost as good as Jack Nicholson’s from the 1989 Tim Burton /Michael Keaton film? — wasn’t my concern.

Instead, could Ledger inhabit The Joker’s skin in a radically different way that would make Bat-fans like me forget all about Nicholson? That’s all I really wanted to know.

I came away from The Dark Knight prologue feeling that if you enjoyed pouring through the early days of The Joker — a mere 67 years ago in Batman #1 — with a dollop here and there of the psychopathic force of nature Alan Moore brought to life in The Killing Joke, you’ll wonder why fans’ underoos were tied in knots at all about Heath Ledger wearing the clown makeup at all…

If you don’t have the time, spare cash or an IMAX theater near you, our friends at Dark Horizons broke the news that a high-def Dark Knight trailer will debut Sunday at a site conveniently called A taste for the theatrical and Monday on MTV.com. Also, check out the Dark Horizons site for a link to some of the newest TDK movie posters, besides the official teaser plastered all over the Internets, including here…

One question for those of you who make it to see I Am Legend, IMAX or not: Did you see the same well-worn but very strategically placed Superman/Batman poster with the date of 5.15 in the beginning as Will Smith’s Neville chased down deer through a deserted Manhattan?

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