Sunday, January 27, 2008

Heath Ledger, Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee

I would have forgotten about an off-handed comment I made a few weeks ago were it not for Streebo and Neil -- who both mentioned it on their blogs. Since I was part of the discussion I figured I would put it up here as well.

Discussing the trailer for the upcoming Batman movie, Neil Shyminsky said

"Having watched the trailer, I'm also noticing a lot of similarities between Ledger's Joker and The Crow: the aesthetic, the posture, the stare. Which all, again, seems very un-Joker-like."

At which point I responded

"Un-Joker like is only half the problem. The real problem is why on on earth you would want the Crow haunting your movie?"

It is not just that there is this connection between Heath Ledger dying before Dark Knight is out and Brandon Lee dying before The Crow came out. It is also that Brandon Lee's death itself recalls the death of his father, Bruce Lee, before finishing HIS final film, Game of Death. All three actors died playing characters whose job it was to bring death to others in a dramatic, fun way.

I think the thing that really strikes a chord with everyone in these cases is that when you discover that the actor died, you are also faced with this uncanny knowledge that they will return shortly -- when Dark Knight, The Crow or Game of Death hits theaters. It reminds us that the feeling of immediacy that we get from movies is just an illusion. Like literal stars, there is this sense that by the time the light of movie stars gets to us, they may have burned out already.


Elijah Fly said...

I wouldn't say "un-Joker-like" myself, as this version of the batman series has proven to be more than a little inspired by the work of Frank Miller. I would say that they are definitely leaning toward the "creepy clown" aesthetic that is a big part of The Dark Knight Returns. (I wouldn't be surprised if he has thoughts on an adaptation of that a decade down the line.) But, un-Joker-like in accordance to most of his appearances in pop culture, I would definitely agree.

That said, the look of Ledger's Joker definitely relates to the work of the Lees.

Elijah Fly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
neilshyminsky said...

He might resemble DKR's Joker somewhat, though that particular version of the Joker is quite old and the worse for wear - I would have thought that young and pretty would make for a better match with Bale's Batman. My guess is that they didn't have DKR in mind so much as they wanted to get as far away from Jack Nicholson and Cesar Romero as they could.

Ultimate Matt said...

Wasn't Bruce Lee also found dead in his hotel room?

James said...

My first thought when I heard they'd cast Ledger as the Joker - and the reason I thought it was a good idea - is that they wanted someone who could physically match Bale, rather than the more commonly seen lanky-creepy figure (fans still clamour for Crispin Glover to play him). I don't think they're going for DKR necessarily, (that incarnation is much closer to Neil's "obsessively groomed" figure than Nolan's/Ping's "Westwood punk"), but it's worth noting that the Joker in that story is the most physically dominating version I've seen.

scott s said...

That's a great point about the DKR joker-- the most homoerotic joker is also the most physically challenging to batman. That's interesting

I wonder how'll they handle joker sexuality in the dark knight and whether it will result in annoying dark knight/brokeback splices on youtube.

Streebo said...

Bruce Lee suffered a brain aneurysm and died in the apartment of one of his female "friends." She later went on to make a sordid drama called "My Last Days With Bruce Lee" or something along those lines. Years later, she renounced the world and became a nun.

Scag said...

Lets not forget they were both 28..

Mack said...

Bruce Lee was 32.