Batman is only as good as his villains. There is no doubt that the caped crusader has always been defined by his varied cast of criminal foes. The wild and outlandish characters that make up the Gotham City crime world have kept Batman on his toes for well over seventy years. The most menacing and fowl enemy of the caped crusader and his arch nemesis has always been The Joker. Having seen his debut in 1940, the clown prince of crime has seen his fair share of the spotlight. Many phenomenal actors have portrayed the devilish fiend.
Although many actors have voiced The Joker over the years, one voice actor has been particularly praised by fans. Mark Hamill who saw his first major success as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, would take on the role of The Joker in 1992’s Batman: The Animated Series. Hamill would continue to voice the character in varying productions including two of the latest Batman video games. The actor’s voice for the role was zany and wild with a raspy finish that chilled audiences while keeping us smiling. Hamill is widely considered the greatest of Joker’s voice actors.
Before Hamill took on the role, The Joker was popularized in Hollywood by Jack Nicholson in 1989’s Batman. Tim Burton’s cast featured many great actors but Jack truly captured the insane nature of Batman’s foe. The clown crime-lord portrayal by Nicholson was silly enough to fit the clown gimmick while evil enough to send chills down the spines of fans everywhere. Nicholson planned to reprise his role in later projects but the idea was scrapped.
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy breathed new life into the Batman franchise. With a more realistic take on Gotham City and its inhabitants, fans were intrigued. When it was announced that Heath Ledger would be taking on the role of the clown prince of crime, fans were outraged. They considered Ledger a pretty boy and knew him for his work in 10 Things I Hate About You and A Knight’s Tale. While these movies are fantastic, fans did not think Ledger would be good in the role of The Joker. Ledger tragically passed away before the film’s release. His posthumous role would go down in history. His Joker was dark and menacing. Lacking much of the campy-ness that made his fellow actors so popular, Ledger went for a more dark and pained Joker. His portrayal was nothing short of fantastic.
It’d be a crime to discuss Joker portrayals and not speak of the legendary Cesar Romero. Romero played The Joker in the campy 1960’s Batman series. His Joker was silly and a total clown. He kept Adam West’s Batman on his toes with each passing week with wild new plots to rule Gotham. Romero’s Joker was the first time the clown prince of crime saw a live action adaptation and her will always be remembered for his hilariously evil Joker.
Batman and Joker will duel until the end of days. Although many actors have taken on the role, these few are the most popular and recognized. The Joker has many different sides to his character. Each of these actors gave us a new view on the menacing clown. We do not know what the future holds for the dark knight’s greatest foe but we can rest assured knowing that The Joker has always been portrayed by the very best.