Max explores the many incarnations of The Joker in DC Universe
Batman’s iconic arch-villain has been portrayed by many actors over the years. The Joker is a terrifying psychotic clown murderer who was a failed comedian-turned criminal who fell into acid and permanently disfigured his face with a creepy permanent Glasgow smile. Or so the original story goes. The evolution of The Joker was never consistent and instead plateaued over the years with differing iterations.
Many people argue who was the best Joker and I honestly think it’s futile for a live-action Joker to ever beat the cartoon classic Mark Hamill Joker. Everybody raved about Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight Trilogy of the late ’00s to early teens. He looked very creepy and due to Heath’s brilliant acting; supremely made a deranged individual. Yet there is something called over-acting and I think this Joker suffered somewhat from this. Unfortunately, this role is what led to Ledger’s death so I am reluctant to critique this Joker. All I have to say is that it went a little too bohemian for me and wasn’t the perfect Joker in my book.
Everybody throws shade at Jared Leto’s Joker who they said was horrible. I think this Joker was excellent! It may be an unpopular opinion to say this, but I liked him better than the Heath Ledgers portrayal. His voice sounded very similar to Mark Hamill’s cartoon Joker and that’s the voice I picture when I picture the Joker. I grew up with Batman: The Animated Series and that is what is burned into my psyche. Anyway, besides sounding like Hamill, Ledger’s frightening appearance looks more like someone who had acid splashed in his face as opposed to Leto who just looks like face paint. Also if you look closely at Leto’s teeth; they look terrifying and it adds to his smile when he laughs. It’s beyond creepy and it makes me feel uncomfortable.
Now the most recent Joker, from the eponymous recent movie is also under some scrutiny by my Joker snobbery. Joaquin Phoenix is a great actor; no doubt about that but his Joker also suffers from the party clown make-up and I feel that making him a sympathetic character is not the right direction for Joker. If anyone felt sympathetic for him, it’s long washed away by the annals of history and all that is left is a disturbed shell of a man trying to drive everyone as crazy as he is. Even though, the message of the Joker 2019 movie is trying to bring awareness to mental illness; I think it insults it.
When Arthur Fleck cannot afford his meds; he does a complete 180 and becomes a despicable murderer. That’s not how mental illness should be portrayed. Also, Fleck’s condition of laughing uncontrollably without warning is an interesting interpretation of the Joker laugh but I also imagined the laugh was something he very much wanted to do to scare the crap out of people. I don’t know if a Joker will appear in Matt Reeves’ The Batman but I honestly don’t care anymore. Nobody can get the Joker right; except a cartoon animator.
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Max Nocerino is a new addition to the Future of the Force roster. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter @MaxN2100 where he channels his passion frequently!
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