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After the untimely death of Heath Ledger months before The Dark Knight debuted in 2008, fans across the world not only mourned his passing, but also inevitably wondered what this meant for the future of Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise. When the film was released nearly seven months later, audiences and critics alike were blown away by Ledger's chilling performance. And after posthumously winning the Oscar for his haunting portrayal of the Joker and becoming the best Batman movie villain to date, it seemed wrong to even consider recasting the role for future films.
Ultimately Nolan and his screenwriting partner and brother Jonathan opted out of including even a mention of the Joker in The Dark Knight Rises, leaving us to wonder what happened to the former scourge of Gotham? Leave it to movie merchandising to answer that lingering question.
Nuke the Fridge (via Movies.com) discovered the Joker's whereabouts by reading the movie's tie-in novelization by Greg Cox. Apparently while Bane was waging class warfare in Gotham, Selina mused,
"Now that the Dent Act had made it all but impossible for the city’s criminals to cop an insanity plea, it (Blackgate Prison) had replaced Arkham Asylum as a preferred location for imprisoning both convicted and suspected felons. The worst of the worst were sent here, except for the Joker, who, rumor had it, was locked away as Arkham’s sole remaining inmate. Or perhaps he had escaped. Nobody was really sure. Not even Selina."
So there you have it. The Joker's not dead. He's probably still locked up in Arkham…or he's escaped. Two sentences allow for fans of the franchise to pick their favorite fate for the scarred and psychotic supervillain, which is probably for the best. Personally I find the idea of Joker being Arkham's sole prisoner weirdly romantic, and like to imagine him wandering the halls divining his own plans for future mayhem. Though an alternate story where he is making his own chaos among the coup of Gotham could be an incredible subject of a graphic novel spin-off…
Share your wishes for the Joker's fate in comments.