Whether you believe that the next Batman film should be a continuation of the Nolan universe (albeit with different personnel), one issue that will dominate the early news of any new Batman film will be who the studio and the script-writers will choose to play the role of the villain. Some will argue that the film-makers should go with new options, bringing in antagonists like Clay Face who we haven’t yet seen, and other that they should give Nolan-like treatments to popular villains like The Penguin, The Riddler, or Mr Freeze who have already appeared in very different (and not wholly successful) forms in other Batman films. But for my money, there is only one villain who should be the first addition to cast-list, and that villain is the Joker.

It is for good reason that the character is considered one of the greatest screen villains – he is the only comic book character to have won an Oscar, and his two appearances on the big screen (in modern films) are easily the best two Batman films committed to film. The Joker has become a cultural phenomenon, inspiring thousands of Halloween costumes, and he sustains the kind of enduring appeal in the comics and on animated versions of Batman that confirm his status.

Obviously, any return of the Joker would inevitably lead to the question of casting, and what direction the next director would take in the light of Heath Ledger’s tragic death, and how iconic his performance is viewed by Batman fans, and we will deal with that question in due time.

Unfortunately, there may be some stigma attached to reintroducing the Joker, following the James Holmes case, but the actions of a single unstable person who attaches themselves unhealthily to a cultural phenomenon would do nothing but empower other like-minded individuals seeking to make that sort of devastating statement.

Read on to discover our reasons that the Joker must return.

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This article was first posted on October 13, 2012