One of the the most recognizable villains ever to grace the pages of a comic book, The Joker once again will be returning to the silver screen in David Ayer's Suicide Squad in just under a year. Jared Leto will be the man behind the laugh, but first, lets take a look at previous adaptations of the legendary character.
Tim Burton's Batman included Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the trickster, and what a great job the actor did. Nicholson described is liking of The Joker based on that fact that "his sense of humor was completely tasteless", and in true Tim Burton style, the character was shown to be in your face and over the top but also at times extremely subtle with his plans to take over and cause Gotham pain, i.e. the administering of Smilex. However, Nicholson's time on screen is considered to be more fun and appealing to the audience compared to other portrayals which have shown The Joker to be a pure psychotic character with no control. On the other hand, the role itself took its toll and when informed about the next portrayal, considered the greatest, all Nicholson has to say was " Well, I warned him."
Of course, the man in question is none other than Heath Ledger. He initially described the character as being "a psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy" - and this was made clear on the screen. Under the direction of Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight was arguably Batman at the darkest its ever been shown. Ledger's performance led to the actor winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor but this success came a year after the actors tragic death.
An overdose on prescription drugs, usually prescribed to those suffering from insomnia or anxiety, caused the actor to go into cardiac arrest and eventually pass away on January 22nd 2008. The role has taken its toll on him, he was unable to escape. Heath Ledger's depiction of the legendary villain had become a legend within itself and to date, is arguably the best acting seen in any comic book movie, or even in the history of cinema itself. Although, it did raise questions over the misuse of prescription drugs and the adoption of method acting on whether it was safe and whether at the end of production, will the actor truly be able to detach from the role.
More recently, and not in movies, The Joker has seen great success in video games. Rocksteady's Arkham series has used both Troy Baker and the great Mark Hamill in their games. More importantly, Hamill's interpretation of the Joker has been considered to be the closest to the comic as he is shown to tease Batman, his great use of tasteless jokes as well as his complete lack of empathy and fear for Batman - shown by his actions leading to the paralysis of Barbara Gordon. Hamill will be reprising his role in the future for Killing Joke due to demands from the fans. Check it out yourself, the man rocks it.
Finally, but at no means least, we have double threat, actor and musician, Jared Leto will be attempting the role of The Joker. His appearance was intially criticised - people did not like that 'Damaged' tattoo - but since the trailer of Suicide Squad shown at San Diego Comic Con, it is clear that this guy should be feared. With the possible appearance of Joker in Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (YES!), we may be seeing a Joker who is more physical rather than one is just psychological and conniving.
Leto has proven his acting ability in the past with his role in Dallas Buyers Club so never fear comic book readers, we can trust this guy. Going back to the title, the role is serious for many reasons. Firstly, his importance is so great, its easy to disappoint so try not to, or you will face great backlash. Secondly, the role is most likely to steal the screen, when the Joker is there, it should feel like no-one else is. Finally, and most importantly, e message for actors is to be careful, this role seems to be succubus and the investment from actors should be great but the returns will not be as kind.
Suicide Squad hits cinemas August 5th 2016 and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice will be released March 25th 2016.
Just a small disclaimer, some of this post is based on opinion so there will always be conflict with others.