When it comes to comic book supervillains, few are as iconic as Batman’s arch-nemesis, the Joker. Portrayed by numerous actors since the 1960s, and featuring in multiple big-screen outings with the Caped Crusader, the Clown Prince of Crime has become one of the most legendary characters in the DC universe. In part, this is due to several high profile appearances in the movies, but he has also featured in comic books, video games, and animated TV series. It’s hard to imagine the Batman franchise without him.
A testament to the importance of the character is the Joker’s portrayal in those films above, and whenever someone is cast in the pivotal role, it has the fans/cinemagoers buzzing. Whether it’s Cesar Romero or Jack Nicholson, character actors who made the role their own, or more modern, twisted versions portrayed by Heath Ledger and Jared Leto, the Joker will always be a major part of Batman’s mythology. Each casting was met with praise/indifference/ridicule — delete where applicable — but each version has its place in the mythos, and helps establish the character for a multitude of generations.
But let’s not forget that the Joker has also been voiced by several actors too. He exists in cartoons and video games as well as cinematic entries, and fans consider these incarnations of the Joker to be some of the very best. As a result, it was no surprise that Mark Hamill — who has voiced the character for over twenty years — was asked about other versions of the numerous villain, including Jared Leto’s Mafia-leading entry in Suicide Squad.
Speaking to Polygon, Hamill discussed the character that is dear to his heart, revealing that he is yet to see an interpretation of the character he would consider “terrible.” He was asked about Jared Leto’s recent portrayal and revealed that he loved the performance. The actor also confessed that every version of the Joker has its place, and needs to be portrayed differently depending on the story being told.
“Everyone brings a different spin to the character. I don’t think there’s a definitive version of the Joker and I don’t think there can be. It’s like Hamlet, really. It’ll be constantly redefined.”
The Joker has been a part of Hamill’s life since 1992 when he made his debut as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. He went on to play the part in a dozen animated films, TV shows, and even video games, with his most recent entry being a cameo in Batman: Arkham Knight. His love for the character is no secret, and his passion for the comics has stemmed from a personal interest: he is a huge fan of DC.
“I’ve always given the edge to DC. I started buying DC comic books during a really whimsical age in the publisher’s time and I was really drawn to that. DC, I mean really, I just discovered it first. Don’t get me wrong, I love Marvel. By the time Marvel made an impact on me, I loved it because it was so irreverent and had this mocking attitude that made DC look like boy scouts. I love them both, but there’s something about your first love that always feels a little more intimate and special.”
After playing the character on and off for twenty years, Hamill is qualified enough to give an opinion. The Joker is a unique specimen in comic books, one that has stood the test of time. Whether he’s being played as truly psychotic or genuinely balanced and zany, or anything in between the two opposite extremes, the character has always maintained an air of enigmatic mystery. A character with no definite origin story — a huge rarity in today’s immensely popular comic book culture — it’s a true testament to the character that he has remained as pivotal and important since his debut back in 1940.
The Joker may return to the big screen — the Batman solo movie and the Harley Quinn spin-off are prime candidates for this, as reported by Screen Rant — and many expect Leto to reprise the role unless a huge shake-up occurs, but whenever it happens, you can expect the internet to kick into a frenzy. After all, the Joker is iconic; he’ll remain relevant until the fans decide otherwise. Until then, you can catch the Joker in numerous Batman comic books, video games, and movies. All are available now.
[Featured Image by Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment]