The Amazing Evolution Of The Joker Throughout History


The Joker is one of the most iconic and popular
villains in history. And we’re not just referring to the history of comic books when we say
that – Batman’s arch-enemy stands up alongside the likes of Professor Moriarty, Darth Vader,
The Wicked Witch of the West, Cruella de Vil and the Devil himself as one of the most recognizable
bad guys in fiction.As a result of his popularity, there have been countless adaptations of the
character across various media platforms. As well as appearing in comic books and graphic
novels, The Joker has appeared on television, in movies, in video games and on all manner
of merchandise and paraphernalia.In terms of mainstream versions of the character, the
ones that have appeared in movies are undoubtedly the most well known, and it’s pretty amazing
how fresh the character has remained in each depiction – and this video is going to run
through them in chronological order, discussing each version and how they differ from each
other. Welcome to The Evolution of The Joker on the big screen.
Cesar Romero The late Cesar Romero was the first man to
portray the Clown Prince of Gotham in live action on the big screen, reprising his role
from the Batman television series in a 1966 movie. In the movie, The Joker teamed up with
The Penguin, The Riddler and Catwoman to form the United Underworld – a quartet that posed
a very significant threat to Adam West’s Batman and Burt Ward’s Robin.This version of The
Joker was the lightest of them all – which was fitting with the era and the tone of the
television series and movie in which he appeared. He was unashamedly camp, wore a bright pink
suit, and was more like a pantomime villain than a ruthless criminal overlord.He first
appeared in the TV episode “The Joker is Wild” and made his last appearance in the episode
entitled “The Joker’s Flying Saucer”. In between those, he appeared in twenty more
episodes, as well as the aforementioned movie. As he appeared more, his schemes and gadgets
got more and more crazy and elaborate – and he even had his own version of Batman’s utility
belt, which held devices with names like “strangling screamers” in it.Incidentally, Romero refused
to shave his moustache for this role, so The Joker’s white face makeup was simply heavily
smeared over it whenever he played the character. He remains one of the most memorable versions
of the character to this day, in spite of the fact that he last appeared 48 years ago.
Jack Nicholson In 1989, the man who was clearly born to play
The Joker took on the role of the character – and he did so brilliantly. That man was,
of course, Jack Nicholson, and he made his one and only appearance as the character in
Tim Burton’s Batman. The Joker had appeared on the small screen in numerous animated series
since Romero’s version had last been seen, but this live action, big screen return was
long overdue.Nicholson’s Joker still possessed an element of campness – you could clearly
see the influence of Cesar Romero – but Burton and Nicholson took the character down a much
darker route.This version was violent and temperamental and, even when he was being
light and funny, those moments would be juxtaposed with acts of physical brutality. In the same
vein, his bright purple suit and constant sickly smile were in stark contrast to the
drab and very grey version of Gotham City created by Burton for this movie – something
that gave the character an edge and made him even more unsettling.His line “have you ever
danced with the devil by the pale moonlight” has become one of the most iconic in cinema
history and defines Nicholson’s interpretation brilliantly. Many still argue that this version
is the definitive Joker, but that’s simply a matter of opinion.
Mark Hamill Although this video is mainly focusing on
live action adaptations of the character, no such video would be complete without mentioning
Mark Hamill’s animated version of The Joker.The Star Wars legend has loaned his voice to the
character since 1992 – commencing with Batman: The Animated Series – but his credits extend
to a variety of other DC-based cartoons, and indeed three movies.The first movie in which
Hamill’s Joker appeared was 1993’s Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, which got a theatrical
release, but he has also appeared in the direct-to-video Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker from the
year 2000, and he will reprise the role in the eagerly anticipated Batman: The Killing
Joke, which will also go straight-to-video in the summer of 2016. In addition to those
productions, he has voiced the character for various theme park attractions and video games.Hamill’s
Joker clearly took influence from both Romero and Nicholson’s portrayals of the character,
combining laughter, campness, mayhem, totally crazy schemes, wickedness and dark humour
brilliantly. He looks very different to any version of the character that came before
him – although he does still wear the signature purple suit – and Hamill has received almost
universal praise for his voice work with the character.
Heath Ledger The Dark Knight Trilogy was a huge success.
Christopher Nolan brought a level of gritty realism to the world of Batman that had never
been attempted before with Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises
between 2005 and 2012. But the highlight of the trilogy was undoubtedly the late Heath
Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker.His sole appearance came in The Dark Knight, in which he was depicted
as a sociopath and a bringer of pure chaos. He was completely reimagined and his appearance
was far more rugged and shabby than that of any version of the character seen before and,
frankly, he was the darkest, most unpredictable and most violent version as well.To prepare
for the role, Ledger reportedly locked himself away in a hotel room for weeks; perfecting
his mannerisms, totally immersing himself in the character. Some people have theorised
that getting inside the head of such a maniacal character contributed to Ledger’s suicide,
but that is, of course, just a theory.Ledger’s passing came just before the release of The
Dark Knight in 2008, but he received universal praise for his performance and even earned
a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for it. His iconic line “why so serious”
will forever live on in cinematic lore. Jared Leto
Next in line to play The Joker on the big screen is Jared Leto – a man who will put
as much into the role as Ledger did back in 2008 (he’s already terrified his fellow cast
members by remaining in character at all times on set – and he’s famously sent them some
very strange gifts, including bullets and dead animals).Leto has the responsibility
of taking on the role in the DC Extended Universe, starting with 2016’s Suicide Squad and, potentially,
in several other movies going forward in the franchise .This version looks more different
to any that came before it than any other version, with his slicked back green hair,
silver teeth and body covered in tattoos. He looks as though he revels in the pain of
other more than other versions, and fans and critics are completely divided about him,
based on what they’ve seen of him in promotional material and trailers so far, with some claiming
it looks as though Leto and the people behind Suicide Squad are “trying too hard to be different”.It
remains to be seen how he will be received once Suicide Squad is actually released, but
the likes of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger are undoubtedly tough acts to follow, and
Leto will need to have brought his A-game to his performance in order to garner favourable
reviews. All we can say is that we remain hopeful of this drastically different version
being as brilliant as his predecessors. Thanks for watching our documentary about
the evolution of The Joker. Which version of the character is your favourite? Our good
friends over at the CBR Youtube channel decided to tackle this question head on and have produced
an amazing animated video pinning all of the Jokers against eachother in a hilariously
awesome Joker Debate. Click the preview here or the link the description to check it out
and don’t forget to tell them that Screen Rant sent you! That’s all for us, are you looking forward
to seeing Jared Leto’s take on the character? Let us know in the comments section below
and be sure to subscribe to our channel for more great videos like this one.

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