It’s one of the great villain introductions in cinema history. Standing with a slight hunch at the center of a massive 70mm image, Heath Ledger
’s interpretation of the Joker not so much dominates the frame as he commandeers it. He seduces the IMAX
camera, which is still capturing vast amounts of Chicago’s cityscape around him, and draws it closer to his sphere of influence, and by extension us. Before this moment in Christopher Nolan
’s The Dark Knight
, the director’s Gotham
City functioned with clocklike precision. Even its greatest villains were slaves to the need of rationalizing everything in cold, utilitarian logic.
Not the Joker.
Within our first breath next to Ledger’s clown, one senses a malevolent spirit has been summoned, and he’s chosen to manifest out of thin air at this exact moment, on this exact street corner. He’s come to claim Gotham
’s collective soul,