The most recent Batman film, The Dark Knight, rode to tremendous commercial and critical success due in large part to Heath Ledger's Academy Award-winning reinvention of Bob Kane, Fill Finger and Jerry Robinson's iconic DC Comics villain, The Joker. Ledger died of an accidental overdose of various prescription drugs just before the film's release in 2008, but because the Joker survived in the story, many fans have been wondering what if any reference will be made to him in The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final film in director Christopher Nolan's Batman cycle. As part of an ongoing series of Dark Knight Rises features in Empire, Nolan answered the Joker question definitively, and you can read what he had to say below.

SPOILER WARNING: The following constitutes some measure of spoiler for The Dark Knight Rises.

"We're not addressing The Joker at all," Nolan told Empire. "That is something I felt very strongly about in terms of my relationship with Heath and the experience I went through with him on The Dark Knight. I didn't want to in any way try and account for a real-life tragedy. That seemed inappropriate to me. We just have a new set of characters and a continuation of Bruce Wayne's story. Not involving The Joker."

This strikes us as wholly appropriate.

R.I.P. Heath Ledger.

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