The debate about who has the best Joker laugh has been reignited, but the correct answer is Mark Hamill. The Joker's laugh is an iconic and intrinsic part of the character, and every actor who takes on the role not only has to perform their own version, but invariably be compared to what's come before in the world of DC movies and TV shows.
With the release of the final Joker trailer, fans have been able to hear Joaquin Phoenix's Joker laugh, which has prompted the age-old debate to come around once again: who has the best Joker laugh? Phoenix's take on the Clown Prince of Crime is quite different to any that've come before, and while it won't be until Joker releases that we'll know just how good a performance he gives, his laugh is already up for judgment. There are plenty of other contenders, with the major names in the conversation including Jack Nicholson (Batman), Caesar Romero (Batman 66), Mark Hamill (Batman: The Animated Series, among many others), and Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight).
However, while each of these actors was great as the Joker, and all brought something unique not only to the role but to the laugh itself, it's Hamill's Joker who has the best laugh. The rest are all good-to-great, and Ledger's is definitely a close second, but there are a few reasons why Hamill has the best - and really, the definitive - Joker laugh. This goes with his incredible talents as a voice actor, meaning he was able to put more into the laugh than the other actors, who had to give a more physical performance as well. That's not to detract from what Hamill did in any way, but rather to highlight the fact that he needed to so embody the character through his voice, making the laugh even more important, and to his credit he ended up nailing it.
Hamill's Joker laugh has been through a few variations across his multiple outings as the Clown Prince of Crime, from Batman: The Animated Series to the Arkham Asylum video games, and DC movies such as Batman: The Killing Joke. But while he may tweak things, the spirit of it remains the same, and it's that much captures the essence of the character. Hamill's Joker laugh is chilling, sinister, and downright creepy: exactly what you'd want from such a major villain. But at the same time, it's not the laugh of someone just trying to be evil, but someone who is genuinely amused and amusing. Hamill tapped into the comedy of the character better than anyone else, and that really shines through in his Joker laugh, while it also captures the Joker's insanity too.
What Hamill really understood about the Joker's laugh is that it couldn't just be one thing: it has to convey all of his different moods, with the Star Wars actor wanting to treat it like a "musical instrument". He can go up or down, make it happy or angry, funny or intimidating. It's not simply that Hamill's Joker laugh - or laughs - sound better in-character than anyone else's, but that he's able to so fully showcase a wide range of emotions and wonderfully capture the entirety of the Joker through the laugh that really sets him apart from the rest.