When asked about your favorite superhero you might take a minute and think about which one you like most. Would you like to fly like Superman or chase after Hugh Jackman like Deadpool? To be honest there are no wrong answers. Every kid remembers growing up and tying a towel around there back and jumping off the couch or shooting silly string out and tying up your little sister for the Daily Bugle. That was a great time in childhood, saving the world one heroic deed at a time. As you grow older you ask,” Why was that guy robbing a bank? or What happened to her to make her a plant person?”
As a kid, you look up to heroes and as adults, you understand the villains. It might be this reason that some Bad Guys are even more popular than the caped crusaders themselves and no one embodies this more than the Joker. With that being said let’s get into our list for our favorite Jester of genocide.
5.) Jared Leto
Coming in last is Jared Leto. With his unique urban punk take on the Joker, it is easy to see why it wasn’t well received. A psychopath with a sword cane, he was a different kind of killer. Posing with guns and a grill, seemingly owning a nightclub while shaking down local thugs. A character that was given afterthought in the story, instead of the focus. Jared Leto himself stayed in character, however. Working on his laugh by seeing which one scared strangers at restaurants and even giving gifts like bullets to Will Smith who played Deadshot and a pet rat to Harley played by Margot Robbie. So into the character, he was surprised by the lack of his character in the story after the film released. Even Leto himself has said that it is a shame you did not see the hours of footage he shot as the Joker. Enough to make an entire film about his character. Sadly this did not come across the silver screen, it seemed to have potential but was led nowhere. Much like a joke with no punchline.
4.) Mark Hamil
To me, this is my joker. While growing up on Batman the animated series and seeing him reprise the role in video games and animated movies. Mark Hamil has continued to play the flawed criminal mastermind almost flawlessly. Mark describes that he treats the Jokers laugh as an extension of his personality, in almost the way that people sing sadly and happily. It is insights like this that shine through his performance. Even so much so as to get petitions from fans for him to reprise the role in future incarnations. After playing the character for almost thirty years, I hope he never gets tired at laughing at his Dark Knight enemy.
3.) Jack Nicholson
For many of us, our introduction to Joker was done by one of the best to ever kill someone with a Joy buzzer Jack Nicholson. In Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman Jack is amazing in the way he conveys absolute chaos. You at no point want to see the Joker win, but you always want to see what he’ll do next. While painting paintings or making up poems or asking Batman, “ have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?” Nicholson said that he was “particularly proud” of his performance as the Joker: “I considered it a piece of pop art”, he said. It is an attention-grabbing performance that goes to show you why he was the mold for all future performances.
2.) Cameron Monaghan
If you haven’t seen the show, Gotham, you’re not alone. With a campy feel and the protagonist being a young Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon it’s a hard sell. There are some great characters though. One of them being a young sociopath played by Cameron Monaghan. The young origin story to the Joker is paced well. Timed with splices of madness and anger. While threatening your family in a whisper, he is also tying you up over tanks of piranha. The best part is if you are a fan of Jack Nicholas’s zaniness, Heath Ledger’s careless demeanor, and Mark Hamill’s laugh, do yourself a favor and see this guy steal the show.
1.) Heath Ledger
When it was announced that the Joker was going to be reprised by a new actor, everyone was stunned and scared of who it might be. When the story broke that Heath Ledger was chosen, there was an outcry. After the recent flops of movies like The Brothers Grimm and Brokeback Mountain, people were upset. The part was being auditioned by so many huge actors at the time, like Adrien Brody, Steve Carrell, and Robin Williams, to name a few. Everyone thought he was going to be terrible. Everyone was wrong. After spending a month alone in a hotel room to get ready, reading the lore on the character and keeping a journal of what his character thought, he was ready. What emerged was almost a new creature, entirely surrounded by Joker. This version was a liar and aggressive monster who was tired of fake rules that controlled the city. While lying about all his backstory in the film, you are engaged to almost make up your own. Some fan theories are still going strong a decade later, my favorite being that he was an ex-military soldier who has come back to hate the society he protected. By channeling some inner demons and an homage to Sid Vicious this Joker changed the game forever. This performance has garnered worldwide critical acclaim and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. By far the mold that was broken and broken again. Heath’s performance will be looked on and smiled about any time someone asks,” Do you wanna see a magic trick?”
With a new movie Joker coming out starring Joaquin Phoenix the hype is real for our favorite Clown Prince of Crime. Finally getting a stand-alone movie, Directed by Todd Phillips know for The Hangover trilogy. He now brings us his dark take on our Gotham Crimelord. Said to be inspired by the film Taxi by Martin Scorsese. When Joaquin was asked why he said yes to the movie, he said, “Mostly because it scared the f****** s*** outta me. It might as well be the thing that scares you the most that you do next. “
With high reviews and even higher hopes, we will see if the bar is raised yet again. As always, we will always just have to wait and see who laughs loudest in the end.