New Heath Ledger Joker image might be a fake!

Is this the latest in a long line of false pictures?

It was one of the biggest stories of the weekend, but we’ve got some bad news for Batfans – there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the latest pic of Heath Ledger in his Joker guise is yet another fake.

If it is indeed a scam, it’s surely one of the most elaborate hoaxes in cinematic history, a gag worthy of the Clown Prince Of Crime himself.

If you haven’t already heard, here’s the story. At the weekend, what appeared to be a viral marketer littered a comic-book store in Southern California with playing cards, daubed with the phrase I Believe In Harvey Dent Too, a play on Warner Brothers’ official ibelieveinharveydent teaser site domain name.

Now, here’s where it gets really interesting. Fanboys who typed in ibelieveinharveydenttoo were sent to a new site, encouraging them to send off their email address, to receive a code which would allow them to gradually reveal a Bat-picture, hidden behind the official teaser.

Cleverly, whoever created the site (and we’ll prove in a moment that it wasn’t WB) didn’t announce that the image was Heath Ledger as the Joker, making fanboys even more desperate to see it.

Eventually – and trust us, it took a long time, suspicious in itself considering how many people were eventually attempting to reveal the image, once the word spread – this picture appeared.

Looks good, right? Well, before you get too overexcited, consider the following two points…

Warner Brothers’ first wave of this elaborate viral marketing campaign was to litter one comic-book store with home-made cards. Which is quite small-scale, even for a guerilla marketing campaign.

The official teaser’s full address is http://ibelieveinharveydent.warnerbros.com/, note the warnerbros part of the address. The Joker’s address? http://www.ibelieveinharveydenttoo.com/

Both facts were suspicious enough to peak our interest, but not conclusive. After all, even if Warners did litter only one comic-book store with cards, it worked. And perhaps they’d left the official branding off the new site to make it seem more anarchic, more Joker-esque.

Still, it was enough to make us dig further. And we didn’t like what we found.

A simple WHOIS search revealed that, whilst ibelieveinharveydent was registered by Warner Brothers on 11 May, ibelieveinharveydenttoo was created by a private registration company, Domains by Proxy, Inc. on 14 May. We doubt Warner Brothers would go that far to keep their part in the enterprise a secret (after all, we sort of know they'll be behind the eventual Joker reveal).

Which, obviously, is a massive disapointment. But still, keep your eye on Total Film for the first image of the real Joker. We won’t report it ‘til we’ve seen it.