Who Is the Real Joker?

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attends the Long Beach Comic Con held at Long Beach Convention Center on September 17, 2016 in Long Beach, California.

Poor Bruce Wayne, when push comes to shove, his rogues gallery is full of some of the baddest baddies in all of comics. Batman has arguably the best group of villains of any protagonist in all of fiction. However, when it comes down to naming his biggest villain, it’s no laughing matter. The Joker has been Batman’s biggest rival since 1940, and he’s become one of the most popular comic book characters of all time.

That part isn’t up for debate. As long as Bruce Wayne dresses up like a bat, he’ll have a clown to chase. But this does open up an interesting discussion. Who played the Joker best? Well look no futher, for the answer is here.

Who Is the Real Joker?

In order to really determine who the best Joker was, you have to line all the actors up and see who has the last laugh. So that’s what this article is, a subjective ranking of every actor that has played the clown prince of crime, starting with the absolute worst.

Jared Leto

Jared Leto‘s performance in Suicide Squad left a lot to be desired. Mr. Leto claims much of his performance was cut and left on the editing-room floor. I disagree, I think the opposite is true. The character of the Joker doesn’t have a huge role in the Suicide Squad comics, and Mr. Leto’s Joker was a cheap take on another actor’s controversial take. Sometimes the source material is good enough on it’s own. Perhaps Leto should go rent some video tapes.

Cesar Romero

Admittedly, Cesar Romero‘s placement on this list is by no fault of his own. As a fan of the grittier, darker Batman comics, the campy Batman show from the 1960’s never really appealed to me. Romero’s performance was perfectly fine, but he couldn’t quite grasp the dark, edgy nature of this twisted character.

Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson‘s Joker is incredibly underrated. After the incredible success of The Dark Knight trilogy, the Tim Burton Batman movies of the 80’s and 90’s have become a bit of a punchline. When you mention these movies, the dreadful “Batman and Robin” movie usually comes to mind.

However, what Nicholson’s Joker does better than almost any version is remain faithful to the source. Nicholson’s Joker is twisted, screwed-up, funny, and a little terrifying. He happily mixes glee and gore with a permanent smile, and he manages to get the last laugh. It was clear that Nicholson had a ton of fun with the character, and it’s probably the most honest version to ever hit the big screen.

Heath Ledger

Are you really surprised to see Heath Ledger‘s Joker this high? Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight made huge waves. Before The Dark Knight, Ledger was a borderline pretty boy, that had only teased his acting chops. When he was announced as the Joker, fans revolted.

However, when they actually sat down in theatres to watch Ledger, they were blown away. He completely committed to the character, giving a twisted, brilliant performance. Somehow, Ledger managed to stay true to the source, while making an iconic character his own. Jared Leto tried, and failed to do this very same thing.

You might think this article is over. Heath Ledger was the best Joker, far and away. However, you would be wrong. One more man put on the smile, and he was easily the best.

Mark Hamill

Surprise! You thought Heath Ledger was going to come out on top, but that’s just not even close to the case. No disrespect, because I meant everything I said about Mr. Ledger’s performance, but when it comes to the Joker, the conversation should begin and end with Mark Hamill.

Yes, the man best known for playing Luke Skywalker has another signature role. Since he first took on the part in the 90’s, Hamill has voiced everyone’s favorite clown in 23 different television shows, movies, and video games. His terrifying laugh is iconic, and every single man that has tired to fill his shoes has failed miserably. Maybe it’s just my personal preference, but while I’ve enjoyed (most of) the performances the other actors have put on, nobody can touch Mark Hamill.

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