The Joker is the arch nemesis of Batman. Gotham City always brings a smile to his face.
The self appointed clown prince of crime, The Joker is the most significant, dangerous and unpredictable villain in Batman's entire rogues gallery. His crimes often make sense to him and him alone. Often known by his manic grin and his chilling laugh, The Joker has seen many incarnations through the years. Though he has never been given a cannonical real name, his comic book origin story is usually some variant of his previous role as the Red Hood, a petty thief who disguised himself with a Mysterio-esque helmet. After being forced to dive into a vat of chemicals to escape from Batman, he emerged with chalk white skin, green hair and red lips. Initially terrified by his new appearance, he realized it could strike fear into his enemies and promptly went insane.
|Cesar Romero portrayed The Joker in the campy 1960s Batman television series and subsequent 1966 feature film. His Joker sported a painted over mustache, due to Romero's refusal to have it shaved. Not nearly as sadistic as most interpretations of The Joker, Romero's Joker was much more of a clown and much less a murderer with no morals.|
Tim Burton's 1989 summer blockbuster take on the Dark Knight had Jack Nicholson taking on the role of The Joker. The film also fabricates a new origin story for The Joker, portraying him as underworld hood Jack Napier, the man who murderer Thomas and Martha Wayne, Bruce's parents (in the comics, they were actually murdered by Joe Chill, a petty thug). This led Batman to actually dropping Napier into a vat of chemicals upon meeting him years later, a fairly cold move for Batman, who always prefers to take criminals in alive. Napier survives the chemical bath, transforming into The Joker and taking over the Gotham underworld.
A reign of terror overtakes the city as The Joker begins introducing his Smilex poison into Gotham's food, drink and hygiene products. The Smilex leaves it's victims laughing themselves to death and sporting a rictus smile, similar to The Joker's own. After untangling the complex chemistry involved in the poison, Batman confronted The Joker a final time, stating that they had created each other, a central theme in many comic book stories involving the Clown Prince. Batman ultimately brings about The Joker's downfall, literally, by tying a large stone gargoyle to his leg and allowing gravity to take over.
Just because he was animated, it was no reason to back off. Mark Hamill, best known as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars trilogy, provided The Joker's chilling voice and demonic laughter in Batman: The Animated Series and all subsequent spinoffs and movies. He has also done voice work for The Joker in the Batman: Arkham Asylum game and is slated to return to the role in it's upcoming sequel.
Taking several cues from the Tim Burton movie, Hamill's Joker is (obviously) slightly more cartoony, but just as out of his mind. Despite being a cartoon, the animated series managed to convey some fairly dark overtones and allowed The Joker to stretch his crazy legs. This incarnation seems to be a great fan of Looney Tunes, annoying the inmates of Arkham Asylum by watching it and laughing loudly.
Truly a loss for Batman fans and movie-goers alike, Heath Ledger passed away shortly after finishing production on The Dark Knight, a performance that netted him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Sporting a glasgow smile (a pair of facial scars that makes the victim appear to be constantly smiling), Ledger's Joker entered the darkest territory ever shown on film for the character. He slaughters people almost casually, working brilliant mind games and generally terrorizing the citizens of Gotham City.
Ledger's performance was so startling that he reportedly caused co-star Michael Caine to forget his lines upon first seeing him in full character and makeup. In order to create the character, Ledger lived alone in a hotel room for a month, keeping a diary of the characters thoughts, developing the posture and trying to find a voice that was different from Nicholson's style.
Through the course of The Dark Knight, Ledger conveys a sense of true anarchy, culminating in turning one-time district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) into a revenge minded murderer, known as Two-Face. He also attempts to assassinate Gotham's mayor, blows up a hospital and robs a bank with a quintet of henchmen who all end up dead by either their own hands or The Joker's before the end of the heist. Batman is at a loss to understand his latest adversary until his butler Alfred explains that "some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn." Introduce a little anarchy and everything becomes chaos.
|2013||Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2||Michael Emerson|
|2012||Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1||Michael Emerson|
|2010||Batman: Under the Red Hood||John Di Maggio|
|2008||The Dark Knight||Heath Ledger|
|2005||The Batman vs. Dracula||Kevin Michael Richardson|
|2000||Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker||Mark Hamill|
|1998||The Batman Superman Movie||Mark Hamill|
|1995||Batman Forever||David U. Hodges|
|1993||Batman: Mask of the Phantasm||Mark Hamill|
|1972||Scooby-Doo Meets Batman||Larry Storch|
|Young Justice||Brent Spiner|
|Robot Chicken||Mark Hamill|
|The Batman||Kevin Michael Richardson|
|Birds of Prey||Roger Stoneburner|
|Birds of Prey||Mark Hamill|
|Static Shock||Mark Hamill|
|The New Batman Adventures||Michael McKean|
|The New Batman Adventures||Mark Hamill|
|Superman: The Animated Series||Mark Hamill|
|Batman: The Animated Series||Mark Hamill|
|The New Scooby-Doo Movies||Larry Storch|