THREE GUYS AND… THE CLOWN PRINCE OF CRIME
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
“JOKES ON YOU!!!”
written by Dominick Cappello
As of late, because of the release of “Suicide Squad,” everyone’s ranking the actors who have portrayed The Joker. Ranking? They’re not quarterbacks. How can you rank an actor’s interpretation of a fictional character? I don’t have a hands-down favorite version of The Joker just like don’t have a favorite James Bond because I love the character and I want to see different interpretations. I wouldn’t want every James Bond to be an actor doing his best Sean Connery impression. Playing The Joker must be a dream job for an actor because they’re given the freedom to explore and inhabit something devilish within their own psyche and have great fun with it. The Joker can be as subtle or as over the top as you want him to be. A homicidal clown. Walking a fine line between horror and humor.
In the Dr. Jelly review of “Suicide Squad,” the good doctor categorized Jack Nicholson as “gangster” Joker, Heath Ledger as “domestic terrorist” Joker, and Jared Leto as “pimp” Joker. Mark Hamill has had to be the most multi-faceted Joker since he has voiced the character for over 25 years, including the acclaimed animated series, animated films, and video games. How chilling was the flashback sequence in “Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker” where The Joker and Harley Quinn have twisted the mind of Tim Drake and turned him into a freaky little Joker Jr. which was the ultimate victory over Batman even if Tim ended up murdering The Joker? Again, I don’t have a favorite Joker, but that sequence would be pretty high on the list if I ever did a top ten Joker moments.
It would be very remiss of me not to mention Cesar Romero from the 1966 live action series. He was obliviously the most non-threatening given the campy nature of the series, but he was the original (live action or animation) and paved the way for the rest. In the season one episode, “The Joker is Wild,” Cesar Romero’s Joker wears the classic Emmett Kelly sad clown mask just like Heath Ledger does in “The Dark Knight” during the opening bank heist sequence. I really appreciate that there’s a connection between the two.
With “Suicide Squad” fresh in my mind, I can’t help but wonder how the different cinematic Jokers would have approached the Harley Quinn transformation scene at Ace Chemicals. Jack Nicholson’s Joker probably would have pushed her off the ledge. In Tim Burton’s 1989 film, The Joker did have a love interest name Alicia, who he claimed committed suicide, but we don’t really know what happened to her. He might have killed her himself because he was smitten with Vicky Vale and wanted to be unshackled. Heath Ledger’s Joker, just like Jared Leto’s Joker, would have convinced her to jump. I’m 99% sure he wouldn’t have pushed her, but I’m 99.9% sure that he wouldn’t have dove in after her. He might have let her drown because it’s a funny world we live in. It’s hard to gage because we never saw his Joker interact with women much outside of one scene with Rachel Dawes where he was seriously being a creeper. He was the only Joker without a love interest. Even Cesar Romero had some groupies from time to time. So, we’ll never really know how it would have played out with Heath Ledger. However, I’m 100% sure that Jared Leto is the only Joker who would have dove in after her. His Joker has gentler side… albeit a perverse and demented side.
I know it’s never been officially confirmed that the Jerome Valeska character played by Cameron Monaghan on TV’s “Gotham” is The Joker, but – c’mon – he has to be The Joker. It wouldn’t make sense for him to not be The Joker. It just seems like he’s the clown prince of crime. He poured gasoline on cheerleaders. Only The Joker is that messed up in the head. Jerome was unceremoniously killed off early in season two, upsetting fans such as myself, but evidently his return will be teased in season three before his triumphant return in season four. Here’s to “Gotham” being renewed for a fourth season. In Jerome’s final appearance thus far, an episode titled “The Last Laugh,” he and Barbara Kean definitely had some Joker and Harley moments while guised as a magician and his assistant. So, I can see him being paired with Harley Quinn when he eventually returns. Until then, or maybe we see Jared Leto pop in next year’s “Justice League,” we’ll have Zach Galifianakis voicing The Joker in “The Lego Batman Movie” to tide us over. Three different Jokers in 2017 would put a smile on my face 🙂
– Dr. Rochester