Here it is, Batfans and True-Believers. After a silly hoax last month, Warner Bros. has finally released a true publicity photo of Heath Ledger in his Joker make-up for 2008's future Best Film of the Year, The Dark Knight.
If you're afraid of spoilers, I've kindly hidden the picture behind this link. You should be afraid anyway, I'm warning you.
My opinion? I think's its dead-on for the tone that Christopher Nolan set in the first movie, Batman Begins. This is a psycho-killer with a twisted face that meshes perfectly with the realistic and dark feel that Batman Begins established. We knew we wouldn't see a repeat of Nicholson's Joker from Batman, and Nolan has delivered soemthing deliciously twisted. As Alex Winck's astute commentary over at Batman-on-Film points out, "If I met a guy looking like this in a dark alley, I’d run like crazy." Indeed. It remains to be seen how Ledger will play the Joker's particular brand of sick crazy, but from the visual side, everything looks bat-tastic.
As I expected from earlier rumors, the Joker's smile appers to be some kind of injury or mutilation, which I suspect he might have done to himself. The skin has the uneven appearance of acid scarring or possibly some sort of birth-defect, not the pure white clown make-up look of either Cesar Romero or Jack Nicholson's Clown Prince of Crime. (I have, by the way, no problem with either earlier Joker, but the character has had so many interpretations that there's room for plenty more breeds of Jokers.)
Also, just so you know where I stand politically: