"You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?"
Oh, how much do I enjoy the villain, the Joker! What can I say? Once creators Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson and Bill Finger got their hands on this masterpiece of a character they made history. Joker was introduced around the spring of 1940 in Batman #1. This is around the age when Batman was a no nonsense killer in Detective Comics (one of my personal favorite incarnations of Batman).
You really think Batman doesn't kill? All I have to say is you better be nice to him or he'll throw a molotov at you, then while you burn to death he will simply stomp on your skull. I'm not making that scene up at all because in All-Star Batman and Robin No.7, 2007 he did exactly that!
Enough about Batman, I'm a fan of Heath Ledger's performance as Joker in The Dark Knight. Still, there were some things missing with his Joker that just didn’t sit well with me. At the same time I respect the fact that he was portraying a different incarnation of the Joker.
This article is meant to show respect towards Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the Joker. Lets be respectful towards one another in the comments section below. I will list my opinions on why Jack Nicholson is the best live-action Joker.
Shall we begin?
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Joker has been a household name for 75 years! The Joker has been the arch-nemesis of Batman since day 1, starting out as a second grade villain he worked his way up to the top. Once an editor decided to keep him around, his reign of dark comedic crime began.
It’s a combination of the wide creepy smile, his unpredictable/uncontrollable laughter and his overall wits. Those are the things Jack captured magnificently in Batman. Tim Burton's Batman was based on Bob Kane’s Joker/Batman and Alan Moore's The Killing Joke. You can tell by how Jack looks and behaves in the movie. Many want to compliment that Heath was entirely his own Joker, which isn't entirely true. The man was a great method actor but even he admitted he couldn't top Jack's performance and was a huge fan of the movie.
There's a famous scene in Batman when Joker says- "come on you gruesome son of a bitch, come on!" while Batman is flying in his Batwing trying to hit the Joker.
Look at videos below:
Then you have this...
The way I look at this scene (above) is that Heath played the son of Jack's Joker, being a very gloomy interpretation of his father. I know they aren't actually related, but every time I watch The Dark Knight that's what I see.
“LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON.”
You cannot have a Joker without the notorious smile… The laughter is one thing, but the smile is a big deal for the Joker. It's his trademark! This is something that sold me on Jack's Joker. Just look at that goofy-creepy grin and if you look back at Bob Kane's work on Joker it has that same exact smile that just makes you feel so uncomfortable.
It may seem pretty psychotic to smear make up all over your face and have a scar made into a smile. Then there's the permanent bleached skin with an everlasting smile and beating red eyes! Yeah, that's pretty scary and creepy to me. Jack had the smile, and that automatically gave me the impression I was watching the Joker on the big screen.
I’ve never understood when people say things like- "his Joker is too childish or cartoon-like for my taste." Excuse me, but he killed a lot of people in that movie also WB Studios made an animated show right after Batman (1989). Jack's Joker managed to kill more people than Nolan's Joker. I understand Heath's Joker wanted chaos as well, but this Joker was more unpredictable with his antics.
From killing Bruce's parents, shooting the officer before falling into a toxic waste, killing his old head boss, electrocuting a mob boss to death with a hand buzzer, throws a quill pen full speed at a man’s throat, killing two Gotham models with Joker Gas (Smylex) that leaves a creepy permanent smile on their lifeless corpses, infects Gotham even more with his Smylex killing 13 people every week, killed more people in the museum with some new Joker Gas (maybe around 15 people), kills more people with toxins at parade and he kills his number 1 henchman "Bob" in old Joker fashion (which means unpredictable, funny and unforgiving).
I felt that both actors weren't forced; it just came natural. I also found it strange how Heath's Joker was saying- "you complete me." Now if I’m Christian Bale's Batman I would be thinking -"what the hell? I don't even know you, man!"
In Batman it felt right because Joker aka Jack Napier killed Bruce's parents (not true to comics, still both Tim Burton and Bob Kane thought it was brilliant). Also, in The Killing Joke there's a man named “Jack” who falls in the toxic waste creating the Joker. A perfectly matched chemistry, both made one another. One killed the other's parents creating Batman and the other was pushed into the toxic waste, which created the Joker.