Good evening true believers, recently I’ve listened to old episodes of Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast, two in particular featuring Mark Hamill, who has played a defining character in the Batman mythos more than an iconic actor and an actor who ended up winning an Academy Award for his performance. It got me thinking, who is the best Joker?
The first on screen Joker I was introduced to was none other than Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s Batman movie. I always thought Nicholson looked scary, seeing that smile of his with the make up only amplified my fear. Looking back after watching other versions of the Joker it’s not hard to see that Nicholson brings his A game to the role but doesn’t do anything stand out. I’m not saying that his performance isn’t great, it was how he pulled off the dark humour that you would expect from a serial killing clown that made his Joker memorable.
The next iteration of the Joker I watched was Cesar Romero in the ’66 Batman series. In a show aimed at children that is very camp and cheesy, Cesar pulls of a maniacal clown very well, copious amounts of overacting was critical for this show and has in turn made the show a cult favourite. This was never my favourite Joker, but it showed a different take on a long standing character.
Now onto a Joker who I never found out voiced him until a couple of years after the show had finished, The Batman Animated series can be described as a unparalleled success by winning several Daytime Emmy’s. Unfortunately, through some unjust reason Mark Hamill never won an award for his part in the show. He not only managed to make the character his own, bringing a darker side of the Joker, though with not being able to kill people off on the show, one way to get around this is by making Joker gas give people a permanent chiseled smile to rival the Jokers. He may not have won any awards for the animated series, he did win awards for his reprisal of the Joker in both Arkham Asylum and City.
Last but not least is one of the biggest and most memorable on screen performances by any actor, Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. This Joker was a cold blooded killer, had an evil looking stare, but ultimately a master planner. Blowing up a hospital, robbing a bank while getting most of his crew to eliminate each other for him. He had a mystery around himself, giving multiple reasons for the scars on his face, doing things to just see what the reaction is, telling Dent about the dirty police to burning the money he stole from the bank. In the end Ledger died before the movie was released, but due to his performance he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
I know there are other Jokers out there, but none of them had as much of an impact as these 4 incredible actors, it’s hard to say myself who is my favourite, as each actor brings something else, something refreshing to the role, but if I had to a vat of acid next to me and was forced I would have to say Mark Hamill. Now the question I ask you fine folk is, who is your favourite Joker? If I have missed an actor then feel free to bury me for doing them an injustice!