Who were the best Jokers in the Batman franchises? Join the debate
The Joker is never going away. The character who sees more reinvention than some of literature’s most classic personalities saw one of its most popular incarnations in 2019 with Joker, and already has a new version ready for 2021 with Justice League. But which of the Jokers from Batman reigns supreme?
The Joker remains one of the main reasons non-comic fans keep an eye out for a new Batman movie, and throughout the years, we’ve been given many Jokers in the plethora of Batman movies dropped on audiences. As such, the question gets harder to answer each year – which of the Jokers is the best in all of the Batman franchise? We’ve gathered a list of our faves to help get closer to the answer.
We’re going to leave out Cesar Romero’s Joker from the 60s Batman series, as well as Mark Hamill’s animated Joker from the 90s, and keep things right on the big screen. Considering this idea, Jack Nicholson was the first Joker to meet audiences on a grand scale.
Tim Burton gave fans 1989’s Batman and with the film, one of the most twisted Jokers yet seen at the time. Jack Nicholson’s bleached face with a crooked smile from a botched plastic surgery session still creeps us out, even if Batman is often a victim of the kitch of its time period.
Nicholson holds his own as the depraved clown we all know & love, but at the same time Jack Nicholson is somehow always Jack Nicholson on screen, and the performance isn’t much of a transformation.
To many millennials & zoomers alike, there is no Joker like Heath Ledger’s Joker. In 2008, Christopher Nolan gave audiences what many would consider the director’s most important film of his career with The Dark Knight.
When the film came out, audiences were more excited to see the hyped portrayal of the Joker than the follow-up story to Batman Begins, and new fans continue to flock to the film for the same reason. Heath Ledger’s Joker is one of the best performances the character has ever seen, and the actor’s untimely death coming the same year as The Dark Knight transformed his Joker mystique to a full on cult following.
Heath Ledger’s Joker is plastered on everything from T-shirts to phone cases, but can the performance be topped?
Maybe Heath Ledger’s Joker can be topped, but not by Jared Leto. Fans caught wind of Leto’s method acting during the filming of 2016’s Suicide Squad, pulling gritty Joker-esque pranks on set, but the antics didn’t seem to help the actor’s Joker transformation.
We can’t throw Leto too much shade – the actor has given great performances in some of the past twenty-five years’ most iconic films from American Psycho to The Thin Red Line and he had massive shoes to fill following Heath Ledger’s Joker. However, Leto’s grill-laden tattooed Joker just doesn’t hit like the others.
2019’s Joker gave zoomers a poor man’s Taxi Driver with none of the nuance and half of the thrills. However, the film produced Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, which was the first version to be as hyped as Ledger’s and the most significantly praised Joker since.
Joaquin Phoenix is a master, and we weren’t surprised to see him tackle 2019’s R-rated Joker with ease, changing like a chameleon into the tragically cackling waif we see on screen, in the form of a man who respects his craft. We can’t praise the film itself, but Joker provides fans with one of the most harrowing Jokers to date.
Can any performance top Heath Ledger’s Joker? Sound off in the comments below!