09/26/2014 03:54 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How Would You Have Made The Dark Knight Sequel if Heath Ledger Was Alive to Play The Joker? A Hollywood Screenwriter Takes on the Task

How would you make The Dark Knight Rises if Heath Ledger was alive to play the Joker?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and get insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.


Answer by Ken Miyamoto, Produced screenwriter, former Sony Pictures script reader/story analyst

Gotham, with the "martyred death" of Harvey Dent (Who we all knew turned into and died as Two Face in The Dark Knight... a mistake in my eyes, as far as him dying, but we'll skip past that), is now a prosperous and much less crime ridden city, thanks especially in due part to new Commissioner Gordon.

Batman is a wanted fugitive. The Dark Knight to Dent's White Knight.

Bruce Wayne has lead his company to an even greater success, yet when the business meetings are done and he returns home to his mansion, its clear that he's mourning the loss of Rachel Dawes.

He wanders the endless halls and rooms of the mansion at night, unable to sleep. Alfred watches from the wings, not able to do anything.

Meanwhile, the trial for The Joker has been a dark fiasco. Bruce watches the news footage. After some failed and delayed trials, The Joker is now up for sentencing, having been convicted for numerous murders and mayhem (The events of The Dark Knight). Of course, he pleads insanity.

We haven't seen his face yet. As he walks up the courtroom stairs, he's covered by a jacket and flanked by S.W.A.T. team members, protecting him from the crowd. We're briefly introduced to reporter Vicki Vale. A beauty.

"Joker, do you have anything to say to the people of Gotham?"

Joker stops, face still hidden, and eerily looks back at her until he's forced forward and into the courtroom. She's chilled to the bone by the stare, but thrilled at the same time.

When he's in the courtroom, we see nothing but those long, dirty locks of hair, dressed in an orange jump suit.

Bruce watches as the judge asks The Joker, referred to as John Doe, whether he has anything to say for himself before sentencing is announced. The Joker slowly arises, chains making him shuffle forward. He stops at the microphone. Breathing. And then, we see a glimpse of his eyes as he begins to CACKLE manically!

He's taken from the courtroom, still laughing.

His lawyer walks forward. "Your honor, it's clear my client has not been fit for trial. If fact, we don't even know his name. He doesn't exist in the eyes of the law. How can you sentence a... phantom?"

The judge considers. He looks to the back of the courtroom and sees Commissioner Gordon.

"This, Joker, is hereby sentenced to life in the darkest of holes where he belongs. Arkham Aslyum. May he be locked up and forgotten as Gotham moves on."

Commissioner Gordon nods solemnly. It's over. Or is it...

The television turns off. But we're not in Bruce's mansion anymore. We're in a dark corner somewhere. A place we don't want to be.

A figure has been watching. In this odd and dark room, we see that the dirty walls have endless scribbles on them, some carved by a sharp object, others written in black ink. What we see most are odd and almost violently etched QUESTION MARKS amidst words upon words.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

We then see film being developed. Pictures of various people of Gotham. We see Vicki Vale. We see Commissioner Gordon. And many others. Newspaper clippings hang on the walls as well. All covered in question marks. Headlines about Batman. One stands out most: "Batman: From Vigilante Hero to Gotham's Most Wanted". Written by Vicki Vale, based on her ongoing news investigations.

It's like a scene from Se7en. Creepy.

We're now in the Batcave. Bruce Wayne sits, head down, gazing at the now relics of his The Dark Knight persona.

"It's over, sir. Justice is served."

He looks back to see Alfred.

"Justice? I'm beginning to wonder if there is such a thing in Gotham."

"Rachel... she'd want you to move on."


"Is that all, Alfred?"

Tears in his eyes, Alfred replies, "You've carried enough death on your shoulders, Master Wayne. They don't need your pain. They don't want it. They never did."

He walks away.

Meanwhile, it's night in Gotham. The bars are full of jovial Gotham citizens. An attractive woman exits the bar. She walks into a dark alley. Perhaps a little drunk. She enters her car. A dark figure in the backseat awaits, unbeknownst to her until his hand covers her face as she screams.

We cut to later that night. Commissioner Gordon appears at the crime scene. The woman is murdered. Question marks etched into her skin. Her dead hand holds a black envelope.

Gordon opens it. Reads it. It's a riddle.

From here on out, we see that Gotham's few years of peace are now gone. The city has fallen victim to an apparent serial killer. Many of the victims are public figures. Lawyers. Police officers. Detectives. Businessmen.

The serial killer's MO is that he spends the night with the victim, waiting to see if they can answer a riddle. If they can, they would be allowed to go free. Thus far, no one has been able to answer any of the riddles.

Vicki Vale, now investigating the case for her news coverage, coins the serial killer's moniker as The Riddler.

Bruce Wayne follows the story. He watches as Gotham now lives in a state of fear. Businesses are hurting. People aren't leaving their homes. He's entranced by Vicki Vale, watching her image on the screen as she covers the story.

Bruce begins to investigate. Alfred watches as this tragedy has seemingly awakened Bruce from his mourning slumber.

Bruce meets with Vicki Vale, slyly questioning her about the evidence on the crime scene (She has connections to Gordon). He almost seduces her to get more details, but soon begins to fall in love with her.

Meanwhile, Lucius Fox arrives at his home one night, only to find a dark figure awaiting him in the shadows. We reveal The Riddler. He's a sick and demented killer, relishing in emotional torture. He poses a riddle to Lucius. Lucius, with an almost smile, gives him the correct answer.

"But it doesn't matter, does it... Riddler? You're going to kill me anyway."

"I'm a man of my word, Mr. Fox. You will live. But you'll come so close to death."

We cut to Bruce in bed with Vicki. He gets a call. An emergency one from Alfred.

We cut to the hospital. Bruce runs through the halls, desperate. He arrives at Lucius Fox's room. The police stop him at first, until they see who he is.

Lucius is in a coma. Tortured to within an inch of his life. Bruce is distraught. He feels guilty. If Batman would have never left, would this have happened?

Commissioner Gordon sits at his desk at night. Someone is in the shadows. It's not The Riddler. IT'S THE DARK KNIGHT himself.

"Tell me everything."

Gordon looks up, surprisingly not startled. "What took you so long?"

We learn more and more details. The women victims all have the same initials. RD. We later learn that they are connected to Rachel Dawes.

The male victims are authority figures. Mostly men working within the law. If not the law, they are prominent business figures. Hence Lucius Fox.

We hear more about the riddles that have been left with each victim. Riddles leading to a bigger piece of the puzzle.

On the scene of the last murder, a Joker card was left behind. Batman, infuriated, finally pays a visit to...

THE JOKER. Arkham Asylum.

Here we find out that The Joker himself has a connection to The Riddler. And Batman must utilize Joker's knowledge to help solve the riddle. THEY HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER.

This would lead to some amazing exchanges between the two. Batman needs him. Bruce Wayne wants to kill him for what happened to Rachel, but he can't. His character is truly tested.

Is The Joker part of the killings? What is The Riddler's motive? How are they connected.

I even toy with the idea that The Riddler gave The Joker his scars and that is why The Joker is helping Batman.

"You know me, I enjoy a little chaos. But even better is blood thirsty revenge. You give me that, Bat, I'll give you The Riddler."

But all is not as it seems. The Joker has ulterior motives obviously. He has a plan of his own.

While I don't know the details, everything would lead to a huge climax where The Joker would escape Arkham Asylum on a stormy night as Batman pursued The Riddler, whose latest victim, as Batman solves a riddle, will be Vicki Vale.

Batman can't fathom losing another person close to his heart.

Perhaps he once again has to choose, only now it's whether to stop The Joker from escaping or stopping The Riddler from killing Vicki Vale. He chooses Vale and ALMOST catches The Joker in the finale.

In the end, it turns out that The Joker and The Riddler were working together the whole time. The Riddler was one of his minions, a crazy f*** that The Joker knew he could use to draw Batman back out into Gotham city. For who is The Joker without his arch nemesis in Batman.

The Joker, using The Riddler, brought chaos back to the streets of Gotham. As Batman defeats The Riddler, The Joker actually goes to Vicki Vale, who clearly is not having a good night after barely losing her life to The Riddler before Batman showed up, is now faced against The Joker. But she learns that she will live, as long as she shares a message to Gotham.

On camera, broadcast live, The Joker returns to the limelight, ending his broadcast with, "... I call out to the scum of the world. My chums. It's open house here in Gotham once again! And allow me to put a pretty price on head of one of its most loyal citizens. The Batman himself. Bring me his head and I will bring you more than you could ever hope for. Yes, good ole money. A mountain of it!" HIS MANIC CACKLES ECHO UNTIL THE BROADCAST ENDS...

Bruce and Vicki are reunited. Her stance on Batman has changed for obvious reasons.

The Riddler is dead.

Batman, discovering that The Joker had deceived him, tried to keep him from escaping, however Joker's gang helped him do so, leading to the surprise broadcast and leaving Vicki Vale shaken. But Batman/Bruce, just when he thought that he had lost another love, discovered Vale alive and well. The Joker used her as a messenger.

Bruce goes to visit Lucius Fox, who is awakened from his coma. He's watching the reply of The Joker's broadcast, calling out to any and all criminals and scum to wreak havoc on Gotham and seek the head of Batman.

Lucius looks to him and smiles.

"Looks like we've got some work to do."

As the movie closes, we see that The Joker is skipping town for a bit, hoping to come back to Gotham as bad as it ever has been. As he's driven by one of his gang members, they ask, "Where to then boss?"

The Joker devilishly thinks and smiles. "I hear Metropolis is a booming town. Let's have a little fun." His cackles echo into the night as they drive away from Gotham.

This alternative universe sequel would take tones and themes from Se7en, Silence of the Lambs (With The Joker in the Hannibal role), etc.

It would be more hard edged. There'd be action for sure, but this would be a great detective story for Batman. And having Batman and The Joker working together for a spell would be VERY enthralling. The constant games. The not knowing if The Joker was playing him or not. Seeing The Joker apparently out for his own revenge. Showcasing The Riddler as a cold-blooded psycho serial killer.

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