Despite some early rumors, director Christopher Nolan had always made it clear that the Joker would never be mentioned in The Dark Knight Rises so as to not account for the real-life tragedy of Heath Ledger. It was a respectable decision, but one that left the fate of the Joker to the viewer’s imagination.
While many fans came up with their own theories on what happened to Gotham’s infamous villain, the recently released novelization ofThe Dark Knight Rises attempted to provide a definite answer to the question.
A novelization is not uncommon for big summer movies and has been done for all three films in The Dark Knight trilogy. Written by Greg Cox, The Dark Knight Rises: The Official Novelization tells the entire story of the film while adding some different perspectives and spending more time on supporting characters.
Here’s an excerpt from the novel, posted by Nuke The Fridge, which gives us an idea of where the Joker could have been:
“Now that the Dent Act had made it all but impossible for the city’s criminals to cop an insanity plea, it (Blackgate Prison) had replaced Arkham Asylum as a preferred location for imprisoning both convicted and suspected felons. The worst of the worst were sent here, except for the Joker, who, rumor had it, was locked away as Arkham’s sole remaining inmate. Or perhaps he had escaped. Nobody was really sure. Not even Selina.”
That explanation is not a definite one, but one that makes sense if true. The Joker would have been isolated from the rest of the world, and without an audience to perform for, the Joker would’ve simply gone even more insane than he initially was. My personal belief is that the Joker died (regardless of whether he was taken to Arkham Asylum or not) as that could be the only reason for his complete absence.
It’s easy for the fans to imagine what could have been and how the Joker might have fit into The Dark Knight Rises, but for obvious reasons it’s impossible to ever determine what exactly his fate was.
If anything, hopefully this new information will provide some more closure to fans of the character.