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The Best Joker Performances: Ranked

One of the best films of the year is undoubtedly Joker, the stand-alone origin story of one of DC’s most popular villains. The movie has made a ton of money at the box-office – at the time of writing, over $900 million in box-office receipts, which is a phenomenal amount of money from a reported $60 million budget. Of course, this isn’t the first time the character has been seen on-screen. He has been portrayed on the big and small screen in no less than ten different incarnations as well as featuring in off-screen merchandise like action figures, books, in games, on mugs – you name it. The best online casino list, even had a casino that featured him in a slot game. The popularity of the Joker movies has pushed many online casinos and gaming websites to create games with a theme of the Joker, to attract more users and fans. Especially now, after the big buzz of the new Joker, that broke all records. In the new film, Joaquin Phoenix plays the notorious clown-faced killer, and Heath Ledger, of course, won the Oscar for playing the character in The Dark Knight over ten years ago before his tragic death. Two amazing performances which got us thinking; who is the very best on-screen Joker?

8. Jared Leto – Suicide Squad

One of the more recent ‘Jokers’ on the list features in the ensemble piece Suicide Squad from filmmaker David Ayer. He ranks last on our list, sadly, but that’s taking nothing away from Jared Leto who portrayed him on screen in Suicide Squad. Leto had the unenviable task of taking on the character in the first live-action movie since Heath Ledger’s legendary performance in Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy. Sadly, this Joker wasn’t as memorable as some of the others – and sadly it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing any more of Leto’s incarnation any time soon as he’s not listed as being in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad due for release in 2021.

7. Caesar Romero – Batman TV series

The one most people of a certain age will remember as Caesar Romero’s campy clown literally lit up our TV screens each and every weekend, be it during its initial run in the 1960s, or during the constant re-runs in the decades that followed. Romero’s Joker is legendary, but probably the least menacing incarnation on this list, hence its place a little further down the listing.

6. Troy Baker – Batman: Arkham Origins

The man who had to follow on from Mark Hamill’s epic voice from the animated TV series (more on that in a bit) was Troy Baker in the video game Batman: Arkham Origins. He voices the Joker in this 2013 video game and may not be the name you immediately think of when you think of the Joker. He drops a superb performance as the villain and the game is well worth seeking out on the older consoles.

5. Cameron Monaghan – Gotham

Here’s one you may know as it is again a very recent portrayal of Joker in popular culture, in the TV series Gotham, which ran for five seasons with the final one airing just this past spring. Cameron Monaghan played the character on-screen characters of twins Jerome Valeska and Jeremiah Valeska for eighteen episodes, both of whom are two different versions of the Joker, though either of them is never referred to as ‘Joker’ by name

4. Jack Nicholson – Batman

Possibly one of the most famous on-screen depictions of the Joker was in Tim Burton’s supremely dark 1988 version with Michael Keaton as the title character, Batman. Jack Nicholson famously played the role in the movie, which shows the transformation of Jack Napier into the Clown Prince of Gotham. Nicholson was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the 1990 Academy Awards, and rightly so as it is a truly menacing, wonderful turn.

3. Mark Hamill (Batman: The Animated Series/Batman Arkham series)

Hamill is the man credited with playing the character for the longest and he is nearly as famous for voicing the role in the likes of The Batman Animated Series and Batman: Arkham series as he is for playing the iconic role of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. Hamill first played the role in 1992’s Batman: The Animated Series and ended his run no less than 25 years and two Annie Awards under his belt.

2. Joaquin Phoenix – Joker

The penultimate name on our list is the most recent; It has been two months since I first saw the movie and I still can’t get Joaquin Phoenix’s performance out of my head. Raw, unflinching and perhaps the most disturbing, Todd Phillips’ Joker has split some audiences but completely won over the critics, landing the coveted Golden Lion award at this year’s Venice Film Festival. Phoenix is an absolute cert for at least a nomination in the acting categories at every major awards list in the coming months, and deservedly so – he is amazing.

1. Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight

In the end, there can be only one and Heath Ledger’s swansong and Oscar-winning portrayal of The Joker will always be one that is hard to match. The actor throws himself into the role, and Christopher Nolan’s middle (and best) movie in his ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy is still perhaps the best Batman movie ever made – and it is largely because of the villain, and Ledger’s performance, that it is so highly regarded. From the opening heist scenes to the dramatic climax, Ledger has you glued to the screen in a performance that delivers on of the greatest incarnations of perhaps the greatest movie villain of all time. Number one by a long way.


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