It’s common to hear that comic book characters function as modern mythology in today’s zeitgeist. However, it has been a long road to credibility. In the past ten years some of Hollywood’s most legendary and respected actors, ranging from Morgan Freeman to Robert Redford, have done their part to class up the superhero movie genre.
We have reached the point where certain superhero roles are sought after like Shakespearean classics of old. Thousands of actors have put their spin on Hamlet or Macbeth, however in the present day, roles like Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker hold just as much significance to their audience.
With the release of Suicide Squad coming in less than three short weeks, the Joker is preparing to take center stage in pop culture once again. In anticipation, CBR put together a fun video (one featuring the voice of Screen Rant Editor Andrew Dyce, no less), Joker vs Joker: Who is the Best of All-Time?, that tries to determine who is the best actor to ever put on the purple jacket.
The animated debate is hosted and moderated by the always charismatic Batman and features the most iconic Jokers to ever grace the screen. Watching the various portrayals go head-to-head, shines a bright light on both their individual strengths and weaknesses. So let’s take a quick look at the competitors.
Caesar Romero brought the Joker’s zany antics to life in 1966’s, Batman: The Movie and the ’60s live-action Batman TV show. He definitely represents the golden age of comics, with an over-the-top performance aimed at children. However, Romero may be most remembered for refusing to shave his mustache for the role and simply painting over it.
Jack Nicholson is probably the most responsible for making the Joker a superstar, as the world-famous actor was the headliner of Batman’s own movie in 1989. Nicholson allegedly made in the ballpark of $50 million dollars after securing an industry-altering deal, which included payment on the front end and back. While his performance of the Joker set the bar for decades, it’s clear that Jack was simply having fun as himself, while adding some of Romero’s ticks to his performance.
While never showing his actual face, Mark Hamill probably is the most iconic Joker performer of all-time. The talented voice actor has defined the sound of the super-villain, since the early ’90s in Batman: The Animated Series and all the way to this year’s, Batman: The Killing Joke.
Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker, while largely accepted and loved, was a huge departure from the visual aesthetic of the character at the time. Unlike the tailored and dapper character from the comics, Ledger’s Joker was grimy and rarely smiled, despite having the illusion of a grin created by his scars. Ledger posthumously earned an Academy Award for his work, which forever changed how the role is perceived by critics and film buffs.
With the release of Suicide Squad coming in less than three short weeks, the Joker is preparing to take center stage in pop culture once again. Actor Jared Leto is taking over the role of Mr. J. in the DC Extended Universe and his performance (and antics) are already making noise. While it’s still yet to be seen how he is received on-screen, his method acting and complete commitment to the role will certainly be remembered (for better or worse).
Ultimately, there is no true answer to who the best Joker truly is. The character is generational and when you were introduced to his unique brand of insanity, will color your preference. The Joker is meant to push the limits of acceptability and ultimately serves as a reflection of the time that it exists in.
With that being said, who is your favorite Joker? Let us know below and make sure to subscribe to CBR’s Youtube Channel more fun videos on the way!
Suicide Squad opens in U.S. theaters on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash is currently without a release date.