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    Dark Knight Rises Shooting Suspect: Why He's Not the Joker

    Heath Ledger, James Holmes

    Because he's just not. 

    When James Holmes, the 24-year-old suspect in the Dark Knight Rises theater shooting is arraigned this morning in Colorado, his hair may still be wildly dyed, and allusions to the Joker, the Batman villain with which Holmes reportedly aligned himself, may continue to be made.

    But comic-book movie fans like Jim Littler will know better.

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    "Insane or not, obviously he's not the Joker," says Littler, founder of the fandom-news site ComicBookMovie.com, "and it's silly to even entertain this lunatic's perverse fantasy."

    Kim Ledger, the father of the late Heath Ledger, who won an Oscar for playing the Joker in 2008's The Dark Knight, said as much when he told an Australian paper in the wake of the July 20 Aurora rampage, "We can't blame Heath or the character…It's [the Joker] fictitious."

    Holmes is due in court to answer to the killings of 12 people and the woundings of dozens more at an opening day, midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. The event was the largest-scale shooting rampage in U.S. history.

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    Upon his arrest, Holmes told police he "was the Joker." A mug shot released last week spurred more talk of the suspect's reputed Batman fixation.

    But Holmes' hair color was off: The onscreen Joker, from Ledger's Dark Knight take on down, has green locks, not the orangish-red hue of the suspect. And something more was off, too.

    From the Batman comic to the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, the overriding message, says Heidi MacDonald, editor-in-chief of the comic-news blog The Beat, is that personal tragedy can spur a fight for nothing less than "the greater good."

    "I'm sure it is really dismaying for fans and readers that this message has been co-opted, for a bit, by a real-life wacko," MacDonald says.

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    Indeed, Littler uses the word "hijacked."

    "It is infuriating…that James Holmes hijacked the popularity of Batman movies and characters to commit his murderous rampage," Littler says. "I hope we will all reject immortalizing this loon with Christopher Nolan's masterwork."

    According to a New York Daily News report, which quotes a jailhouse source, Holmes himself might be moving on from the Joker pose: "He claims he doesn't know why he's in jail."

    (Originally published on July 30, 2012 at 7:03 a.m. PT)

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