Director Christopher Nolan decided against referencing Heath Ledger's The Joker character in the new Batman film, insisting acknowledging the "real-life tragedy" of the late star was "inappropriate".
The actor died from an accidental drug overdose in January, 2008, just months before The Dark Knight became a summer smash around the world.
His chilling portrayal of The Joker won him a string of posthumous honours, including an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, and fans have been curious to find out whether there would be any nod to Ledger's character in the upcoming sequel, The Dark Knight Rises.
Nolan has now revealed the fate of The Joker, telling Empire magazine he did not feel comfortable referencing the villain in the new movie, which is due for release in July.
He explains: "We're not addressing The Joker at all. That is something I felt very strongly about in terms of my relationship with Heath and the experience I went through with him on The Dark Knight.
"I didn't want to in any way try and account for a real-life tragedy. That seemed inappropriate to me. We just have a new set of characters and a continuation of Bruce Wayne's story, not involving The Joker."