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The Joker: Johnny Rotten to the Core!

Heath Ledger as the Joker and Johnny Rotten

No one who knows the character of the Joker in Batman will deny that he’s rotten to the core. But who knew he was based on a punk rock icon in his latest film incarnation?

Writer/director Christopher Nolan told Scifi Wire that he had Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols in mind when he wrote the Joker, portrayed by Heath Ledger, in The Dark Knight.

In a bit of a twist Gary Oldman who plays Gotham City police Lieutenant Jim Gordon portrayed Rotten’s band mate Sid Vicious in the 1986 film Sid and Nancy. Sid died of a heroin overdose in 1979 a little over a year after being charged in the murder of his girl friend Nancy Spungen in the old Hotel Chelsea in NYC.

Johnny Rotten, born John Lydon got the stage name Rotten from the dismal condition of his teeth. The Sex Pistol’s first single was “Anarchy in the UK” and I assume Nolan had a bit of that in mind in his vision of the Joker.

“I wanna be anarchy!
In the city”

Seems like an apt inspiration, considering the Joker’s devotion to destroying Gotham City. Nolan sees the Joker as a man devoted to anarchy, to creating mayhem for mayhem’s sake. He’s not in it for money, but for the joy of destruction. From what I’ve seen of Heath Ledger’s Joker, his creation is chilling and certainly fits these lyrics from “Anarchy in the UK”:

“Right ! now ! ha ha ha ha ha

I am an antichrist
I am an anarchist
Don’t know what I want but
I know how to get it
I wanna destroy the passer by cos I

I wanna be anarchy!”

Something tells me The Dark Knight will be very dark indeed.

Robin Ruinsky has been a writer since penning her autobiography in fourth grade. Along the way she's studied theater at Syracuse University, worked with Woody Allen starring most of the time on the cutting room floor. A segue into the punk rock scene followed but writing was always the main focus. She writes for various crafty, artsy magazines about people who make craftsy, artsy collectible things. But her first love is writing fiction and film criticism which some people think are the same thing.

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