As production on DC’s Suicide Squad rolls on we find set images and videos of Jared Leto’s portrayal of the character being leaked every month. The DC super villain team-up movie is to be the debut of the newest live action iteration of the character. It has been said on various news sources that Leto’s version of the iconic Batman nemesis could be the most frightening yet. That is a big claim as there are many great actors that have gone before Leto that have made the character arguably one of the most recognisable comic villains in history. With that being said I decided to countdown the versions of the character in video games, TV shows and movies that Leto must try to live up to. In no particular order here are some of the most iconic portrayals of Batman’s arch enemy…
1. Mark Hamill in various animated projects
You may be aware of Mark Hamill due to him playing a little known character called Luke Skywalker. On top of playing one of the most iconic roles in movie history, he is also well known for his success in the role of The Joker. Unlike some of the other actors on this list he actually never played the ‘Clown Prince of Darkness’ on screen in a live action sense. What he has done is capture the essence of the character through tremendous voice acting. Mark Hamill is featured in the antagonist role on a multitude of animated movies and TV shows, he provides on of the most authentic voices for the character ever. The best thing about it is that Hamill’s work in this role isn’t just qualitative it is also quantitative, if you have watched a Batman cartoon you can pretty much guarantee you have heard Mark Hamill’s voice as the voice of The Joker.
2. Jack Nicholson in Batman (1989)
Nicholson’s Joker is one of the underrated gems in the character’s history. Due to Ledger’s success in the role Nicholson is often overlooked. Nicholson’s version of the character in Tim Burton’s Batman removed any sympathy the audience could have for him and there wasn’t a whole lot to begin with. In Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke the character actually has a very tragic and sympathetic back story. Tim Burton’s movie took the basic idea of Joker falling into a vat of acid from that story but scrapped all of the stuff about the man being in the wrong place at the wrong time, making him evil even before the incident. Rather than a tragic character becoming criminally insane as a result of a really bad day Burton made him an evil man who just got…stranger. Nicholson was a fantastic choice, he is the best at portraying someone who is completely unhinged as you can see in his performance in The Shining. He seems to be too good at pretending to be crazy that one, I’ve a feeling he might be a bit nuts himself. In the role Nicholson puts on a truly psychotic performance with a look of dangerous unpredictability in his eyes at all times.
3. Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008)
Ledger portrayed a scraggly version of the evil jester that looked almost homeless. What was most memorable about this character was the scene where we got a glimpse into his predominantly unrecorded upbringing. I am of course talking about the scene in which Ledger’s Joker describes how he got the scars on his face. This was a gripping piece of cinema made up of formidable acting and ingenious writing. The idea to have scars making up a smile across The Joker’s lips was inspired.
4. Cesar Romero in the Batman TV series (1966-1968) and Batman: The Movie (1966)
Romero brought a version of the Joker that was wide-eyed and incredibly strange. His manner of speaking seems to fluctuate erratically, in some scene he speaks with a very clipped and almost archaic voice, whereas in others his accent is much rougher. However if anything this adds to the mystery of the character. It makes sense that the audience does not know his background for certain. Due to the silly and light nature of the camp Adam West version of Batman, The Joker’s appearance is very clown-like. This character is as far away from the version in the Nolan trilogy as it is possible to be.
5. John DiMaggio in various voice acting roles
It is hard to believe that the same person to give life to characters like Bender from Futurama and Jake from Adventure Time was the voice of one of the most dark and threatening iterations of the cruel clown to date. DiMaggio has most notably lent his voice to the character in Batman: Under The Red Hood. This animated movie was brutal, dark and one of the best standalone animated Batman movie to date in my opinion. DiMaggio is a voice acting heavyweight so many fans were excited to see him take on a role that has defined the careers of many voice actors. If you think of any character in animated TV shows, movies or video games that is well known for an iconic voice there is a good chance DiMaggio was responsible for it. His work as The Joker is just as strong as the rest of his voice acting work. This Joker sounded much more threatening and physically imposing, capable of doing harm all on his own. Not to mention the fact that he pulled off the famous high-pitched cackle in unnerving fashion.