Call me a purist if you like, but I humbly believe that Michael Keaton was the greatest Batman of all time. The forces of good, however, often bore me with their one track “justice” infused minds. This is why The Joker stands out as one of the more enigmatic and psychologically fascinating villains of all time. (See Comicon panel discussing Psychology of the Joker).
So, special care must be taken when you portray said villain in a moving picture show of any sort. This is where Mark Hamill shines above the rest.
Pfft. Really guys, if any of you can say he was an amazing Joker (with a straight face), I will post a Youtube video of me back flipping over a bucket of kittens.
*NOTE* Proof is required. I don’t just backflip on command you know.
The fact is that Nicholson played the same sadistic he always has (Shining). Nothing, except for his lines, really measured up to what I thought the Joker could be. This doesn’t mean he was a bad Joker. Before Hamill and Ledger came around, he was THE Joker as far as I am concerned.
God rest his talented soul. Almighty aside, many contemporary Bat fans consider Ledger’s Joker a masterpiece. He was fantastic, don’t get me wrong. Often his scenes were chilling and infused with months of character study. In the long run, however, it’s more interesting to listen to stories of his preparation than it is to see him though. I don’t think many will disagree with me when I say his Joker created palpable tension though.
Why Hamill Takes the Cake
Perhaps it’s the way he plays off of Harley Quinn, perhaps it is Dini’s masterful writing. The man aged like an impressionist painting, but we don’t have to look at him to enjoy what he’s done.
I’ve never met anyone that can replicate that voice, that laugh. Dini and Timm’s work is brought to life by a character that combined the campiness of Romero with the Seriousness of Nicholson and Ledger. What made Hamill so great was the range of his character.
In the other Batman iterations, Joker pretty much stays the same. He’s sadistic or campy, never both. His jokes are often tongue in cheek or black humor. Never been much of a fighter either, but Hamill’s “Mr. J” puts the fear in the Bat.
Being a kid’s show also helped the portrayal. Since they couldn’t show any death scenes, his paralyzing laughing gas would create situations usually worse than death. It’s often what we don’t see that horrifies us, something movies may have lost sight of at some point. (See what I did there?)
So roll up the sleeves and let loose kids. Who’s your Joker of choice? Will someone be lucky enough to pitch Cesar Romero in a way that gets me back flipping? Tune in to the comments, same Geek post, same Geek blog!
Zombologist currently resides in a cardboard box with an Ethernet connection that is actually just a cord punctured through the wall of that box. If you want to find this ragged individual, check twitter, where his alias is also @zombologist, or just go read this nifty story he wrote once in between incoherent ramblings.