There are several actors who have portrayed the iconic role of the Joker. Each actor brings a unique trait to the beloved, horrific character many fans can appreciate. Here are some of the most noteworthy performances of the character:
Cesar Romero (the Clown Joker)
Cesar Romero performed as the Joker in the Batman television series in the mid-1960s. Many people say his Joker is most similar to an actual clown. In a way, similar to the beginning development of Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, Romero made the villain more comedic than villainous. He was like any typical villain you would see in a movie at the time period, yet he had more of a funny personality. There was never deep character development to understand the Joker’s background and the common arch of this character’s motives were focused around the urge to destroy Batman. There are already several differences in time periods where we can see this Joker was a typical villain, but did nothing too violent. In the 2000s, Heath Ledger’s Joker becomes very violent in ways that were never explored within Romero’s version of the character.
Jack Nicholson (the Gangster Joker)
Jack Nicholson’s version of the famous villain is similar to a gangster type of character. In his debut to the screen in 1989, everyone enjoyed his portrayal of the gritty character. His character is most similar to the comic’s origin story, as show with the ACE chemicals when he fell into a pit of acid and transformed to the pale faced - green haired persona we know. Nicholson’s Joker began to shape into a violent, scary villain due to the the implementation of more brutal actions which spoke for his more violent character.
Mark Hamill (the Animated Joker)
Mark Hamill has acted in several shows, games and movies as the Joker. He started with the “Batman: the Animated Series” and also appeared in the Batman Arkham Series. As he is labelled as the animated Joker, his vocal performance varies between many versions of the character, such as the homicidal maniac or the laughingstock. Arguably, Hamill is one of the best Jokers because of his flexibility to perform a plethora of personalities. However, he is sometimes overlooked for his vocal performance because he does not carry the same screen attention as every other actor’s Joker. While, Hamill may still impress fans with his wicked Joker laugh, hopefully he will get more attention or credit in his role. Even though his performance is transformed into an animated fixture, the character still manages to come to life.
Heath Ledger (the Anarchist Joker)
Heath Ledger is arguably the world’s favorite Joker. Ledger played the anarchist Joker out to - not only defeat Batman - but cause terror to the Gotham citizens. As stated in the movie, he is “an agent of chaos”. Ledger took various measures to perform his role, such as locking himself in a hotel room for six weeks to practice his role and review the comics. Many fans believe he did the best portrayal of the Joker; however, critics feel that people believe this due to the fact he passed away a few months after the film finished shooting. As Ledger’s death may be a factor into his Joker being the preferred character, fans still continue to deem his portrayal of the Joker as the top portrayal.
Jared Leto (the Joker in Love)
Jared Leto’s portrayal of the Joker left fans enraged. His entrance into Suicide Squad made the personality of the Joker seem over-the-top with the amount of tattoos covering his body and his outrageous bling and luxury.
In Ledger’s portrayal he burned a pile of money, but Leto’s persona of the Joker would contrastingly buy a new Lamborghini. His only relevancy in the film was having a relationship with Harley Quinn, which is why Leto’s Joker has been given the name ‘the Joker in love’. As fans continue to reject Leto’s Joker as the complete opposite of Ledger, Leto still stands by his acting capabilities for the role.
Joaquin Phoenix (the Transformation in Joker)
Joaquin Phoenix’s version of Joker uncovers the mental dysfunctions of the character. It was an intriguing form to see Arthur become the fascinating character. As Phoenix’s Joker is getting high praise from critics and fans, it is considered to be one of the more violent Jokers. Adding to the overall idea of violence to Phoenix’s Joker, FBI warnings have surrounded the film for reasons that are mostly about the 2012 Aurora Colorado Shooting during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Plus, the intense blood and gore in this movie were brutal compared to past movies, adding to the violent essence surrounding the movie. Yet, Phoenix’s interpretation of the character gave fans the background of Joker they never knew they needed.
Overall, everyone has their favorite Joker. Ledger and Phoenix are two of the most notable ones to date, but other fans are blown away by all the other actor’s portrayal. Maybe not Leto’s, but everyone else qualifies. Furthermore, the Joker is an incredible character with many dynamics that continue to challenge actors years later.