LOS ANGELES—Saying they don't want to hear anything at all about what film producers can or can't do, moviegoers across the country warned Thursday that the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, had better include an appearance by the late Heath Ledger as the Joker.
The film enthusiasts, who adamantly stated they aren't interested in what is or isn't physically possible within the generally accepted bounds of reality, told reporters they don't care how difficult it might be for director Christopher Nolan to add a scene with the deceased actor, nor do they want to be bothered with the details of how it could happen. The movie studio just needs to figure it out and get it done, they said.
"I don't want to sit here and have an argument about who's alive or who's dead, because, quite frankly, I don't care," Boston resident Sean Barksdale, 32, said. "This is what I want: I want an original scene with original dialogue that features Christian Bale as Batman and Heath Ledger as Joker. And it has to be the real Heath Ledger, too, not someone doing a Heath Ledger impression or I swear to God I'm asking for my money back."
"It can't be some deleted scene from the last movie, either," Barksdale added. "That doesn't count."
Claiming they weren't interested in getting into an existential conversation about life or metaphysics or anything like that, moviegoers hinted that the film could suffer at the box office without an additional scene—ranging anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes—that features a living, breathing Heath Ledger. Audiences noted that by submitting their demands in February, they are giving Warner Bros. Pictures more than enough time in advance of the movie's July 20 release to "do whatever they need to do" to make sure Ledger is in it.
"In the last one, they flipped over a semi and blew up an entire hospital, so don't tell me they can't use a little movie magic to bring back Heath Ledger," said Hagerstown, MD resident Erin Matthews, adding that she doesn't care if Ledger's scene makes sense within the narrative framework of the film, just so long as he makes a cameo. "Don't ask me how—I'm not the moviemaker here, okay? If Warner Bros. does its job and makes me happy, I'll do my job and pay to watch the movie. It's as simple as that."
The moviegoers said any of the following scenarios would be acceptable in the film: Batman visits Joker—played by Ledger—in Arkham Asylum, there is a kind of mutual respect between the two, and they have a conversation about the film's main antagonist, Bane; an epilogue featuring Ledger that subtly suggests the Joker will be the main villain in a future Batman movie; a completely unrelated scene in the middle of the movie where Bruce Wayne talks to a makeup-less Joker, but it's clear that neither is aware of the other's secret identity; a brief vignette in which Jack Nicholson's Joker from the 1989 film Batman talks to Heath Ledger about how the two Jokers should team up and run Gotham City together.
When asked how they would respond if the movie studio is unable to add any of the requested scenes, moviegoers said they "literally don't want to hear it."
"First off, this isn't open for discussion; it's not about able or unable," Kyle Reardon, 26, said. "Secondly, I'm not the head of Warner Bros., but if I were, and I were spending $250 million on a film, damn straight I'd spend an extra 5 or 10 million or whatever it costs to put a living, breathing Heath Ledger up on that movie screen. Thirdly, everyone likes it when the bad guy from an older movie shows up in the sequel and talks about stuff that happened in the last one, so this seems like a no-brainer to me."
"Clearly the movie will be better with Heath Ledger in it, so get it done for Christ's sake," Reardon added. "And throw Adam West and Burgess Meredith in there, too. And also a quick scene where Michael Keaton talks to Bob Kane about Batman."
Though the movie studio has yet to comment on the demands, sources confirmed Ledger's former agents are working on a deal similar to one reached with Warner Bros. to allow a basically dead Robert De Niro to appear in 2011's New Year's Eve.