Yes, we all know Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was a seminal work for comic-book movies — but apparently the finished product wasn’t exactly what he’d planned from the beginning.
There had been rumblings that Nolan had planned to potentially have Heath Ledger’s Joker return in a third film (before the actor’s untimely death), but everything that happened resulted in a whole new direction with Bane and Catwoman. But it turns out writer David Goyer dropped some major hints about the original long-term plan almost a decade ago, when Batman Begins first opened.
While speaking to Premiere magazine before the theatrical release of Batman Begins, Goyer reportedly opened up about the potential storyline Nolan was eyeing for a full trilogy of Batman films. Turns out the Joker did play a large part — and it sounds like parts 2-3 were essentially (originally) conceived almost as a two-parter:
“The next one would have Batman enlisting the aid of Gordon and [Harvey] Dent in bringing down the Joker…but not killing him, which is a mistake they made in the first one … [I]n the third, the Joker would go on trial, scarring Dent in the process.”
Of course, Ledger’s death had a major impact on the franchise, but a lot of those things changed during development on The Dark Knight. The biggest change, as noted by Movie Pilot, was Nolan’s decision to encapsulate the story into one film so it could work as a standalone — since at the time he wasn’t sure if he’d return for another installment.
That movie did leave some threads open for exploration — most notably the Joker’s disappearance — but apparently at some point in between Goyer’s comments and production on The Dark Knight Nolan decided to move up the Two-Face storyline and scrap the courtroom proceedings. Since he wasn't sure if he'd return for a third go-round, it makes sense he'd want to go ahead and tackle Two-Face.
Now we love Nolan’s trilogy as-is, but it’s fascinating to look back and see how differently this trilogy could’ve developed. It makes sense they’d want to keep the Joker around, since he is one of the character’s greatest rogues, and a third film focused on Two-Face could’ve definitely given Dent’s storyline more room to breathe.
If nothing else, file this one away as just another alternate take on how things could’ve been.