August 12, 2016

Agent Of Chaos: A Look Back On The Different Live Action Forms Of The Joker

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Written by: Lee Skavydis
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Now that the hype machine, both negative and positive, for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is slowly coming to a halt, it is now safe for Ben Affleck to step out of the firing line after surprisingly being chosen for the role of Batman for the DCEU. The finished product of Batman v Superman impressed many as far as Affleck’s take on The Dark Knight. After seeing what seemingly felt like a truck load of footage in preparation for the release of Suicide Squad, the public’s attention has now turned to Jared Leto, who is now the fourth actor to play a live action version of Batman’s arch nemesis the Joker.

Opinions so far appear to be diverse in discussions regarding Leto’s interpretation, whose appearance wouldn’t stray too far in resembling Marilyn Manson’s younger brother. It is a hot topic when it comes to debating who just really is, or was the best actor to undertake the role, so let us dive through and examine each live action version of the character’s profile.

Cesar Romero:

The camp aspect had to start somewhere! And it did when Cesar Romero played the Joker in the 1960’s television show with Adam West undertaking the role of Batman alongside Burt Ward as Robin.

Batman was a show that targeted a very young audience, causing it to omit the character’s more fiendish aspects of his personality that the public later witnessed when the studio decided to make their big screen adaptations. The show, which lasted from 1966-1968, was optimistic in its nature but Romero still found an approach that elevated the character’s strength which resonated with many fans despite the fact that the actor refused to shave off his moustache which is in plain view to viewers even in low picture resolutions. This did not have much of a detrimental effect considering the tone of the show, and Cesar Romero’s representation was a good starting point for future opportunities to come!

Jack Nicholson:

Oscar winning actor, Jack Nicholson had the honour of being the first to play the Joker in a momentous theatrical picture. While Heath Ledger made many new fans with his portrayal 19 years later, the Easy Rider star’s take still retains many fans to this day. The Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman gave fans a healthy mixture of camp and a weighty performance that fit the dark, gothic tone of the script. Although it is thought here that Nicholson has been mostly one dimensional in his acting ability throughout his career (there are a couple of exceptions!), The Joker was a great fit in his comfort zone in the way he often played characters in cocksure fashion.

Heath Ledger:

Australian Heath Ledger made his mark in Hollywood history when he was given the opportunity to play the Clown Prince in the second instalment of Christopher Nolan’s realistic but dark perspective on the adventures of The Caped Crusader, that told the origins for the first time in more than average detail.

Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for playing the Joker, who this time came across as nothing short of a deranged lunatic who got his kicks out of killing and destroying anything in his path just because he could! Comic book fans may have been a little disappointed that the character’s trademark laugh and sadistic jokes were kept to a minimum, but perhaps it was a necessary sacrifice to retain the realism and general impression of a major classic movie in the same style of such gangster movies as Heat.

Nolan decided to select the path to not reinvent Joker’s origins, instead going for ambiguity which made the Joker in The Dark Knight nothing short of an enigma. And no, that was not a Riddler pun!

Jared Leto:

With the newly released movie, Suicide Squad, the role of the Joker was up for grabs once again. Jared Leto has been given the opportunity to play the infamous villain that looks set to surely appear in at least a couple of up and coming DC projects. So, how did he fare? As Pierce Brosnan once did for James Bond, it appeared that Leto wanted to approach the character and go for a hybrid version, incorporating past fragments here and there of the different portrayals of the past. Bare in mind that it has recently come to light that there is apparently a sizeable amount of deleted footage that Warner Bros elected to remove from the finished movie, most of which allegedly contains scenes involving the Joker.

It is more difficult to judge this particular portrayal, given that we was only treated to approximately 10 minutes of the character throughout the whole movie, however, people who like nostalgia will probably love Jared Leto’s version.

Special Credit: Joey De Freitas

About the Author

Lee Skavydis
Lee Skavydis
I am a die hard movie fan, owning over 500 movies on both DVD and Blu Ray. I try to go to the cinema at least once a week when time permits. My other hobbies include following fight sports such as boxing, travelling around, writing and editing, listening to heavy rock and cook the odd occasional recipe. I used to write for several prolific boxing websites, interviewing some of the most famous names associated with the sport around.



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