The Joker: A Retrospective and What We Might Expect For The Future.
When you hear the words, “comic book villain", most of our minds go straight to The Joker and for the last 80yrs the name has been synonymous with iconic imagery and "evil", no matter how silly.
Since the beginning of DC Comics, the Clown Prince of Crime, the twisted man with a iconic cackle has always been Batman’s number one enemy in comics, animated series, live-action series, and films.
There has never been a unanimously-accepted Joker origin, whether it was from "The Man Behind The Red Hood", in Batman #168 from 1951 or the ever-infamous "Killing Joke" one-off novel or even the pseudonym Jack Napier which was used in Batman(1989) or Batman The Animated Series(1992)...some have their favorites, and will battle it endlessly.
Over the years we have seen several people take on the role of The Joker.
We were introduced to the first live-action Joker with actor Caesar Romero (who had a prior dancing career) in the original 1966 Batman series as well as the movie, starring Adam West as Batman.
Caesar refused to shave his famous mustache for the role, instead his makeup was merely smattered over it which can be seen if you pay close enough attention.
Romero's portrayal of The Joker was never dark and tortured like we've seen since the 80's, this one was having fun. He was more of a Bugs Bunny with green hair, enjoying every second.
In Batman (1989) directed by a young Tim Burton, we were blessed with Jack Nicholson as the “Clown Prince of Crime.” Jack has said “Tim Burton is a genius. He had the right take on it. Thats why I decided to do the movie.” Most fans consider Nicholson’s dynamic performance as one of the best. He seamlessly blended the goofy aspects of Romero’s Joker with malicious, sickening characteristics in unforgettable scenes. (Remember the parade?). Nicholson has always been famous for staying in-character and it has been rumored that Jack was sent into a spiral over the role, later possibly warning Heath Ledger of the toll it could take, although this is debated.
Mark Hamill became the animated voice for The Jokers Dc Animated series in 1992. Hamill has been the joker for 25 years making him the longest running actor to play the iconic character. When you think of who perfected the best Joker laugh, it’s Hamill, who actually acted out his scenes instead of recording voice-overs sitting in a chair.
In 2008 we watched Heath Ledger transform into the Joker in “The Dark Knight” forever changing the way we looked at this villain. Ledger took the character to a very dark place and gave us a shuddering reiteration of the character we haven’t seen before. He didn’t give us an ounce of goofy pranks, Ledger went full-on sick and sinister. Tortured, and totally unpredictable. He was awarded a posthumous Academy Award for his role shortly after his death at the age of 28.
2016 gave us Jared Leto as The Joker in The Suicide Squad - which lets be honest was kind of a joke. Leto somehow turned the joker into a psycho sound cloud rapper and many of the fans were NOT happy about it. Instead of actually having the devilish Joker grin, it was tattooed on his hand in which he constantly covered his real mouth with. He did have some style though with a pimp cane and his purple snakeskin trench coat, so that's cool sorta. It's definitely a hipster joker if you ask us.
NOW, let's get dark. In 2019 Joaquin Phoenix gave us a much deeper look at the role than ever before- depicting the life of Arthur Fleck, a bullied and depressed outcast(as well as failed comedian) of society longing for a place to belong. Not understanding why the world is so hateful and cruel, kicking innocent people like him to the curb and leaving them to rot in the gutter. Fleck begins a slow descent into utter madness eventually becoming The Joker. The movie's ending left many with jaws on the floor, uncomfortable, and ready for THIS Joker to welcome Batman into the scene...but many also want it to stay as a standalone origin that can be watched before other iterations of our favorite billionaire vigilante. Joker is more of an auteur film with a narrative that runs closest to an origin story as written in The Killing Joke, and no Batman story(maybe with the exception of A Death In The Family) has come close to seeing this level of brutal ending.
So here we are in 2020 anxiously awaiting The return of the villainous mad man in The Batman (and possible sequels) starring Robert Pattinson as the caped crusader. Again, it all depends on how director Matt Reeves perceives the character and how he wants to reiterate the most popular villain of all time. For example - like how most fans think Ayer’s version (Leto) was completely off. Since the position for Joker has not been filled yet let's take a look at five promising actors who would be excellent for the role.
First up we have Acadamy and Golden globe winner William Defoe. Most of us remember Defoe in his amazing performance as Green Goblin in Sam Raimi's 2002 Spiderman. His Iconic voice, evil laugh and ability to well….creep us the hell out, would make a perfect choice for The Joker.
While talking about actors that have the ability to morphe into whoever they are playing. Carrey would be a perfect choice for the role as The Joker. Carrey notoriously stared as the late Andy Kaufman in Man on the moon were it was sad he become so transfixed into the character that he alienated himself from other cast members. Even staying in character off set. I could definitely see Carrey with that sinister painted on smile giving us nightmare fuel in the process.
Jackie Earle Haley
A lot of us remember Jackie Earle Haley as the cigarette smoking punk Kelly Leak in the bad news bears. Some remember him as Rorschach in the watchman, or Freddy Kruger in the 2010 remake of Nightmare on Elm street (I was personally a fan of his performance in this). Haley's resume shows how good he is at playing the villain and I for one would be stoked to see him put on the makeup and give us a new look at The Joker
Now that we know The Joker will make his comeback. Who would you like to see as the infamous clown? Would it be one of the 3 listed? Should they bring someone back? Is there anyone in particular that you would love to see rocking the face paint and causing mayhem in Gotham city? Let us know!