Christopher Nolan confirms: Joker will NOT return in Batman 3

Director Christopher Nolan has confirmed that the Joker will not return in Batman 3 in a new interview with the U.K.'s Empire magazine just hitting stands now. This comes via Obsessed With Film, which reprinted Nolan's comments from the published interview.

Here's the excerpt when Nolan is asked about the Joker coming back: "'No,' says Nolan emphatically and unhesitatingly. He resists elaborating simply because, quite understandably, he says, 'I just don't feel comfortable talking about it.'"

That settles that. There's been speculation almost since The Dark Knight came out in 2008 that Nolan might consider recasting the role, which was played to perfection by the late Heath Ledger. One name even floated as a possible replacement was Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who resembles Ledger and appears in Nolan's upcoming Inception. The thinking was that the Joker would act more as a puppetmaster from inside Arkham Asylum, pulling the strings for a new villain or villains. But Ledger's Oscar-winning performance was so iconic, and Nolan was reportedly hit so hard by Ledger's untimely death in January 2008, that the idea of putting another actor in the role seemed far-fetched at best.

With the Joker off the table, rumors continue to circulate about which villains Nolan will use in the movie, which is due for release in July 2012. The director himself has kept quiet about his intentions, only telling the Los Angeles Times that he had ruled out Mr. Freeze. Fan favorites include the Riddler, Catwoman and possibly Black Mask.

Also in the article, Nolan discusses the Superman reboot that he's producing and Batman collaborator David Goyer is writing. While Nolan says that "you can't move too far away" from the character's roots, he calls Goyer's approach "really tremendous. It was the first time I've been able to conceive of how you'd address Superman in a modern context. I thought it was a really exciting idea."

We're sure there's more nuggets to come, and we'll be poring over the rest of the interview as soon as we can. But for now, we repeat: No Joker in Batman 3. Let the chatter begin. ...

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