Why So Serious? We Explored The Many Identities Behind the Joker’s Smile

Lilly -Anne Waywell

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A new (and long awaited) Joker origin Movie? Starring the three-time Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix? Yes please!

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008). Credit: IMDb

-The Joker: A twisted clown-like super villain of the DC universe and Batman’s prime archenemy. He is responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman’s life and viciously murders people for his own amusement. Probably one of the greatest comic book super villains of all times and ranked #45 in the American Film Institute’s list of top 50 villains of all time.

With the buzz of the recently announced movie, set to be released in late 2019, there has, no doubt, been questions about what happened to Jared Leto’s Joker movie? More pressingly, throughout the years there has been controversy over whose Joker performance is the best. Who has played the role to its fullest potential? Of course, Phoenix is yet to be included in this equation, but I will, however, be sure to include what potential he has… to be the next Joker.

Let’s begin with the more important issue: Wasn’t Jared Leto supposed to have his own Joker movie? Rest assured, according to Warner Bros (and IMDb), Jared Leto will reprise his role as the unique hip-hop Joker in a currently ‘Untitled Joker/Harley Quinn Project’ that follows the love story between both the Joker and Harley Quinn. The movie will be directed by both Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, and not to worry, Margot Robbie will also reprise her role as Harley Quinn. Due to the movie being in early stages of production, little intel has been released, however, there will be more to come in the upcoming future.

Onto the top 5 Jokers of all time:

Jared Leto and Ike Barinholtz in Suicide Squad (2016). Credit: IMDb. Photo by Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture – © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC and Ratpac Entertainment, LLC

5. Jared Leto in Suicide Squad (2016).

‘I can’t wait to show you my toys.’

Honestly, as one of my all-time favorite actors (and singers!), Jared Leto didn’t live up to my expectations… After seeing Leto star in Mr Nobody (2009), Requiem for a dream (2000) and his Oscar-winning role as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club (2014), I expected an amazing, unique psychological villain. However, whether it was due to Leto’s choice for his portrayal or the director’s influence, this depiction failed in being scary, and instead he performed as an idealistic ‘pop’ villain.

Cesar Romero in Batman: The Movie (1966). Credit: IMDb

4. Cesar Romero in Batman (1966).

‘A Joker a day keeps the gloom away.’

Filled with hysteria, psychotic laughs and a clown face painted over a mustache, Romero performs his own unique version of the Joker. Though he does not replicate a typical comic style Joker, however, he still brings in the clever, trickster-like weapons and ‘crazy’ vibes.

Jack Nicholson in Batman (1989). Credit: IMDb

3. Jack Nicholson in Batman (1989).

‘Gotham city, always brings a smile to my face.’

Tim Burton’s Batman, released in 1989, gave comic fans the Joker they had been waiting for- a dark, twisted and creepy portrayal. Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson), a mean, humorless criminal already foreshadows what he will become next with his purple suits and his deck of cards. After his accidental fall in a pool of acid, Napier turns into madness within seconds and enjoys every shot he has at revenge. Nicholson succeeds in making an audience feel uneasy with his hysterical laughter and permanently ‘creepy-looking’ smile.

Batman: The Animated Series (1992). Credit: IMDb

2. Mark Hamill in Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995).

‘All it takes is one bad day.’

Both creepy and crazy, Mark Hamill is the voice of the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series…....…. Though he’s not physically acting in this series, he succeeds in making the Joker match the comic books with his dark, psychotic persona. The iconic Joker laugh, is probably one of the best versions I have heard as it definitely has an unsettling touch to it. Weirdly enough, his Joker gives me the impressions of the Blue meanies in the Yellow Submarine (1968). Hamill reprises as the voice of the Joker numerous times in projects including: Batman: Arkham Knight, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: Arkham City, the Justice League TV series, the Superman TV series, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: Arkham City, the Justice League TV series, the Superman TV series, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: Arkham City, the Justice League TV series, the Superman TV series, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: Arkham City, the Justice League TV series, the Superman TV series, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: Arkham City, the Justice League TV series, the Superman TV series, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: Arkham City, the Justice League TV series, the Superman TV series, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: Arkham City, the Justice League TV series, the Superman TV series, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: Arkham City, the Justice League TV series, the Superman TV series, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: Arkham City, the Justice League TV series, the Superman TV series, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: Arkham City, the Justice League TV series, the Superman TV series, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: Arkham City, the Justice League TV series, the Superman TV series, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, and The Killing Joke.

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008). Credit: IMDb. © TM &DC Comics.2008 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

1.Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008).

‘Why so serious?’

Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning portrayal as the Joker is beyond amazing! Ledger notably locked himself in a room for hours on end, before and during filming to get the feel of true insanity- and that’s exactly what he gave us. Ledger’s depiction of this character doesn’t quite follow the typical comic book villain, but instead displays a manipulative, deceptive sociopath, who has physical knife cuts that displays a smile on his face. His uniqueness of preferring the old-fashioned weapons like knives over guns, and the ‘messy’ makeup, leaves everyone loving and hating his character. Furthermore, the riddles of lies, leaves you with a consistent curiosity of what is the truth (…How did he really get those scars?), really sets you on edge and displays the perfect sociopath. Personally, Ledger’s Joker is my all-time favorite and I don’t think anyone can change my mind!

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019). Credit: IMDb

Lastly, the question you have all been waiting for… Does Joaquin Phoenix reach The Joker potential? I think so, and here’s why:

He is a three-time Oscar nominee, which almost screams that he is a good actor (not everyone is lucky enough to be nominated, let alone win one). The films in which he depicts these amazing performances are: The Master (2012), Walk the Line (2005), and Gladiator (2000) (2000) (2000) (2000) (2000) (2000) (2000) (2000) (2000) (2000) (2000). One of my favorite features of Phoenix, is that he is not afraid to not be liked as a character. In Gladiator, he plays Commodus- a powerful, wicked, murderous Roman emperor, whom you will, with no doubt, hate! Phoenix is a method actor alike Heath Ledger, who strives at producing amazing performances through a range of techniques. In the movie, Walk the Line, he plays Johnny Cash, who is dedicated to learning the guitar from scratch. He also improvised the “pulling off the sink” scene, which was completely unscripted and occurred due to him “being in the moment.” Furthermore, I’m Still Here (2010), was released- a documentary following Joaquin Phoenix’ public announcement that he was retiring from acting and starting a music career. After the film was released, he made another announcement stating that it was a publicity stunt, leaving the public generally quite confused. In addition, his control to keep up this act for so long proves great acting skills- he even grew a beard for this role and wore sunglasses, creating a detached, unsocial persona.

To conclude, I believe that those who watch Joker (2019) (2019) (2019) (2019) (2019) (2019) (2019) (2019) (2019) (2019) (2019), will have to keep an open mind to the fact that every actor must have their own unique portrayal (they can’t all be the same, as that would be very boring to watch), hence why each Joker (so far) has been so different. Joaquin Phoenix, being a highly talented actor (who mainly performs in emotionally driven roles), will give us a unique, chilling performance.  Lastly, there is no need to worry as more movies are yet to come- the Joker’s story is far from its end.

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Camera test (w/ sound). Joker.

A post shared by Todd Phillips (@toddphillips1) on Sep 21, 2018 at 10:00am PDT

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Work.

A post shared by Todd Phillips (@toddphillips1) on Sep 24, 2018 at 4:24pm PDT

Images via IMDb