Whatever your opinion on Jared Leto’s Joker may be, it seems to have opened up a discussion about the character. Many are looking to Heath Ledger’s version of the smiling assassin and believe he is the best. But what of the other Jokers from the past?
Looking into who has played Joker, many nostalgic fans will point to Cesar Romero as their favourite, and his version portrayed in the television show is iconic. What this interpretation is lacking though is that killer edge that many enjoy in the Joker character, but we have to remember that this is a version for children, and one before the dark days of The Killing Joke.
Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham City featured the dulcet tones of Mark Hamill and to many his portrayal of the character through video games and animation is the most iconic Joker we’ve seen. There is a lot of love for Hamill’s Joker and it comes as no surprise really – he is definitely a very good contender for the best version of the Joker, as is Jack Nicholson.
With the reimagining of the Batman movie franchise in the 2000s, the return of the Joker was inevitable. I’m not sure how ready we were for the version we got but Heath Ledger put on a career defining performance, which makes the loss of the actor all the more tragic. This was a more modernJoker who had his humorous moments but was also perfectly menacing in the way he handled his victims. The question “Why so serious?” because as synonymous with the character as Nicholson’s quote did, and this was an impressive move.
It is easy to believe that Ledger portrayed the best Joker because he was so good. This is a hard choice though: which Joker is the best? The simple answer has to be that it is your own choice, there is not a clear cut answer. Mark Hamill, Jack Nicholson, and Ledger are arguably the top three, but it is hard to say which is the best.
What we do know though is that the Joker himself will always be best. He is the ultimate nemesis for Batman. When we see Batman extend into games, not only beat-em-ups but even The Dark Knight slot game, and board games too, the Joker is never far behind. This is the power of the character, and whatever version you prefer, The Joker will always be the number one supervillain in the world of Batman.