All the Legendary Joker Portrayals: Who Are the Clown Princes of Crime?

On October 3, the long-awaited movie Joker (2019) is coming to cinemas, where we will go back to the beginning and find out what brought Arthur Flex to the brink of madness, to become evil incarnate and Batman's greatest enemy - the Joker. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it received an 8-minute standing ovation, with critics focusing primarily on Joaquin Phoenix's outstanding performance. Will he follow Ledger and win an Oscar for portraying one of the biggest villains on the big screen? This time we have collected all the legendary portrayals of the clown prince of crime. Who impressed you the most?

Joker is known for his theatrics – he's a scion of chaos, a maestro of malevolence, and the opposite yin to Batman's sternly moral yang. He's a comic book icon born out of the haunting vision of the earliest cinema, with Bill Finger inspired in part by Conrad Veidt's terrifying transformation in the 1928 expressionist classic The Man Who Laughs. And perhaps that's why every Joker return to the big screen as expected as the revival of any superhero.

So who are they? the clown princes of crime, who were laughing grotesquely long after the lights in the theaters had already gone out?

Cesar Romero in Batman: The Movie (1966)

"The Latin from Manhattan" began his career in the early 1930s, and he mostly got exotic supporting roles. As the Joker, he kept his Latino mustache and insisted that his trademark won't stop him from laughing. But his portrayal was not the happiest - he evoked more emotions in the audience children's mischief than the real threat of an attraction with a clown fetish.

Jack Nicholson in Batman (1989)

Tim Burton's Batman was considered an ambitious "blockbuster" spectacle when it was released, and even today it has its own unique individual identity with the director's signature, making it still a departure from its genre at the time. Several famous names competed for the role of Joker - Brad Dourif, Tim Curry, David Bowie, Willem Dafoe and even Robin Williams. The latter claimed that he was used as a bargaining chip at Warner Bros. to lower Nicholson's price.

So in 1989, Nicholson stunned viewers and gave them quite a few nightmares. His Joker fell into 1980s narcissism: obsessed with money, fame and fashion was killing shameless members of society with their beauty products (a future staple of Burton's cynicism). Nicholson did his job with distinction. The villain is a sadist, a sociopath, a murderer, as well as a heartless, comedy-obsessed, prankster.

Mark Hamill in The Batman Animated Series (1992–1995)

Mark Hamill has been lending his voice to the Joker for almost as long as he's been lending his image to another iconic character, the boy from the planet Tatooine. But only once did he manage to transfer his contagiously scary laugh to the big screen, namely in 1993 with the film Batman: Mask of Phantasm. For some Batman purists, this remains the benchmark of the Dark Knight's cinematic adventures, not least because of the "purple".

As the Joker in the Batman animated series, Hamill instantly became a recognized voice talent, developing a distinctive intonation and growl. While the Joker was at most unpleasant in the first episodes (the series was intended for children), Hamill imbued the playfulness of the hero with palpable malevolence, thus hinting at darker things, as the script might have allowed them. His Joker never killed anyone (in the original series), but his evil intentions seeped through all personality traits.

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008)

Ledger's portrayal of the Joker transcended his genre and will be forever immortalized. Although Ledger once said that he does not like superhero movies very much, he gladly accepted the role that Christopher Nolan offered him for the second part of the trilogy. His Joker was inspired by comics. On Nolan's recommendation, he read The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, and he also admitted that he found inspiration in Kubrick's A Hell's Orange and in punk rocker - then murderer - Sid Vicious, he even locked himself in a hotel room for a month, where the character studied. During this period, he kept a diary that included anecdotes such as things that would make his Joker laugh (such as AIDS and blind babies). This villain surpassed other comic book supervillains: he was a demon that has suddenly appeared to test the morals of an ambiguous American society that pretends to have all the absolute virtues.

Unfortunately, Ledger did not live to see the film's premiere. On January 22, 2018, he died of a drug overdose. The 28-year-old father never got his hands on the Oscar he earned for his role as the Joker.

Jared Leto in Suicide Squad (2018)

Director David Ayer and Jared Leto have created a lively Joker who is overly fantastical and obsessed with embracing thug life style stereotypes. His despondent Joker is a candy-colored nihilist masked in the formula of all superheroes. But in reality, the Joker is only a supporting actor in this film, because the film is marked by Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie).

But Leto also used the Stanislavsky system for the role of Joker, even to a greater extent than Ledger. While Nolan suggested Ledger not stay in the role of the Joker during breaks, Leto remained the Joker night and day. So Viola Davis allegedly threw a dead pig on the table on the first day of filming, and Margot Robbie sent a live black rat. He was said to be sending used condoms and anal beads to the rest of the team.

If Jared ever gets a second chance, let's hope he removes the tattoos and gets more film time, as he has a certain an animal energy that swims around teammates like a shark, deciding who to bite.

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