Ranking the Jokers

Which Joker will rule them all?

Photo Credit: Minu Pilvankar

Which Joker will rule them all?

Everyone is talking about Joker.  Ever since the controversial film was released, people have been debating its quality and weighing its merits.  There’s also the question being broached of how Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal stacks up compared to other famous interpretations of the character.  The Informer has decided to join in on all the Joker fun and rank the portrayals from theatrically released films. So without further ado, let’s start with the worst one:

7. Jared Leto (Suicide Squad)

We… we don’t talk about him

6. Zach Galifianakis (The LEGO Batman Movie)

In a movie that is able to both completely mock yet still show its appreciation for Batman, Galifianakis is able to perfectly poke fun at Batman’s obsession with the Joker and still have a little bit of (PG) craziness that stays true to the character.  He only suffers by virtue of being in one of the few Batman movies that cares more about its hero than its villain, and is therefore given less time to shine than in some of these others.

5. Cesar Romero (Batman: The Movie)

Romero is a great Joker for a ‘60s comedy version of Batman.  This entire movie is just great, and Romero is part of an ensemble of villains that is able to be both funny and “menacing” when it needs to be.  There’s nothing much of substance, but the whole movie is great fun and Romero is having a blast playing him (even if that didn’t mean he would be willing to shave his mustache for the role).

4. Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

This one was a bit of a tossup.  Joaquin Phoenix did a great job of doing something totally different and making it work.  His Joker is not just a crazed individual, but a mentally ill, impoverished man who is driven over the edge of society.  Ultimately, what made me put him a bit lower on this ranking was the attempts to make his Joker a sympathetic character and the movie just not being as smart as it thinks it is, and not really diving into the issues at hand at all.

3. Jack Nicholson (Batman)

This performance is what initially immortalized the Joker in the public consciousness.  Nicholson was able to capture the double-sided nature of the character, and his ability to hide his insanity while doing utterly crazy things until just the right time made his character a lot of fun to watch.  It also helps that Tim Burton focused way more on the Joker, giving us lots of time to spend with him.  It may not have helped the quality of the movies, but it certainly helped the audience see what a great job Nicholson was doing.

2. Mark Hamill (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm)

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was a movie companion to the animated series in the ‘90s that bombed upon release.  It is actually a very good movie, and one in which Mark Hamill reprises his role as the Joker.  He is able to perfectly embody the character through his voice alone, creating the perfect laugh and vocals to match the tone that the movie series completely nailed.  He is able to be fun yet despicable, weird and engrossing but still utterly unsympathetic.  It is a cartoon, but it nails the character more than any other portrayal, other than…

1. Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)