'The Dark Knight' writer reveals 'studio pushback' over decision not to reveal Joker's backstory

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
Heath Ledger won an Oscar for his portrayal of The Joker in 'The Dark Knight'. (Credit: Warner Bros)
Heath Ledger won an Oscar for his portrayal of The Joker in 'The Dark Knight'. (Credit: Warner Bros)

David S. Goyer has revealed there was “studio pushback” about the idea of not explaining the Joker’s true backstory in The Dark Knight.

Famously, Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning take on the Clown Prince of Crime offers up a number of different origin stories to various characters throughout the film.

Goyer revealed during a Comic-Con@Home discussion (via The Playlist) that it was initially difficult to sell that concept to the studio.

Read more: Ledger tops iconic movie moment list

He said: “Even after the success of Batman Begins, [the ambiguous origin] was considered a very controversial thing, and we got a lot of pushback. People were worried.”

David S. Goyer of 'Krypton' on Syfy speaks onstage during the NBCUniversal portion of the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
David S. Goyer of 'Krypton' on Syfy speaks onstage during the NBCUniversal portion of the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

The 54-year-old scribe, who has worked on numerous comic book properties, concocted the idea with director Christopher Nolan and the duo share “story by” credit on the movie.

Ledger, who died before The Dark Knight was released in 2008, famously lived alone in a hotel room for a month in order to construct his iconic performance.

His performance allowed him to posthumously win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor — the first acting award for a superhero movie.

Read more: Phoenix pays tribute to Ledger in Joker acceptance speech

It would remain the only Oscar win for a performer in the comic book genre until Joaquin Phoenix won Best Actor earlier this year for playing the same villain in Joker.

Todd Phillips’ film provided a far more concrete origin tale for The Joker, depicting him as failed stand-up comedian Arthur Fleck, biting back against a hostile society.

Joaquin Phoenix in Todd Phillips' <i>Joker</i>. (Warner Bros.)
Joaquin Phoenix in Todd Phillips' Joker. (Warner Bros.)

Both The Dark Knight and Joker proved to be box office hits, as well as receiving widespread critical acclaim.

The Dark Knight earned $1bn (£762m) worldwide, while Joker managed an even heftier $1.07bn (£815m) to become the most profitable comic book movie ever made.

Read more: David Ayer confirms Joker tattoo fan theory

Meanwhile, Jared Leto also played The Joker in Suicide Squad and received decidedly mixed reviews for his out-there portrayal.

Recent discussion about David Ayer releasing an extended cut of the film, however, has focused on showing more of Leto’s performance — so maybe the Clown Prince will ride again.