We’ve already covered our favourite versions of Harley, but what about Mistah-J?
The Joker has been Batman’s arch-nemesis since the Caped Crusader’s first appearance in comics way back in 1940, giving hundreds of writers, artists and actors the chance to put their own spin on the Clown Prince of Crime. There are so many versions of the demented criminal mastermind, spanning all the way from the comics across games, television and movies. He’s been an anarchist, a punchline, a gangster and even a chemical fuelled monster. With a taste for the theatrical, The Joker is one of the best comic book characters ever created. Here are our favourite versions of The Joker:
- Jack Nicholson
While he’s not the first person to immortalise The Joker onscreen, Jack Nicholson provided the first dark take on the sinister smiler. His interpretation in Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’ raised the bar and provided a fresh spin on a character who had previously been very slapstick, and wasn’t particularly serious (In movies and television anyway). His immortal line ‘Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?’ is quite possibly one of the best lines of dialogue ever written and delivered in cinema.
2. Mark Hamill (Voice work)
For the past twenty years, Mark Hamill has voiced The Joker in over 15 animated television series, games, toys and amusement parks. He’s provided the backbone of the character for iconic versions like Batman: The Animated Series, the Arkham Asylum/City/Knight games, Batman Beyond; Return of the Joker and so on and so on. His menacing raspy vocals alongside that laugh give audiences the impression that he wouldn’t hesitate to murder his own mother. It makes Mark Hamill’s Joker utterly terrifying. We can’t wait for him to take up the role for the animated version of ‘The Killing Joke’.
3. Death of The Family
The Death of The Family arc is notorious for being one of the grittiest takes on The Joker, on the account of him having reattached his face with belts, hooks and straps. Yeah, not pleasant. He isn’t dressed in his usual colourful attire either, he’s downsized to dirty mechanics overalls. He looks gruesomely demented. The story also show cases the Clown Prince of Crime’s insanity, at one point tricking the Bat-Family into thinking they’re about to eat their own face… Psychiatrists would have a field day on that one.
4. Heath Ledger
Receiving a post-humous Oscar for his role on The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger brought a new kind of insanity to the character, showing his taste for anarchy. Ledger supposedly locked himself in a hotel room for weeks filling notebooks of thoughts and actions that The Joker might’ve had, fully immersing himself into the psyche. He certainly made the role his own, and is the go to thought when most people are asked about The Joker. His phrase ‘Why So Serious?’ has become synonymous with the character. This legendary version can be placed up with Nicholson’s.
5. The Dark Knight Returns
In this dark storyline set in the not too-distant future, it features a battle weary Bruce Wayne returning to the Cape and Cowl in his old age. It also features a near comatose Joker in a mental hospital, with his eventual re-emergence on a TV interview – The Joker comes back with a bang and shows he’s still a force to be reckoned with. Voiced by Michael Emerson (Lost), he has a calm and collected approach to murder and chaos… until a certain Caped Crusader steps in to put a stop to him.
With a new live-action Joker coming in the form of Jared Leto in the upcoming Suicide Squad, it’s proof that everyone loves a good villain. It wouldn’t be surprising to see The Joker being adapted for years to come.
Did we miss your favourite off the list? Let us know!