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The Return of The Joker Is No Laughing Matter

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Written by Daryl Winchester

Looking at the production of the new Batman vs. Superman I thought I’d consider the question “if they were to make a completely new Batman would they ever consider recreating The Joker?”
This is taking into consideration a few factors;

1. Heath Ledger’s death.
2. The fact they can’t just wipe The Joker off the face of Gotham forever because an actor has passed away.
3. The new actor would constantly be compared to Heath’s performance.

Given the rumour of a 2016 revamp of Batman (based on the Arkham Asylum Game), we have to consider the mentally unstable criminal mastermind as an extremely likely villain. In the 1950s, The Joker’s character had to be made more comedic and only really became a serious threat to the Batman in recent years. I’d safely say he wasn’t someone to be taken seriously in the early films after his recommended softening.

However, regardless of his past, The Joker is an essential part of Batman’s history, and should they ever make another film they can’t just blot out his existence. I would have assumed that there wouldn’t be any Batman films in the pipeline including The Joker for at least a decade after Ledger’s passing, but now must face the fact that it seems increasingly more likely that the Clown Prince of Crime will return to the silver screen. Still, I question how many actors will bring themselves forward for potential burning at the stake through criticism and upset? Who knows, maybe by then the world will be less judgmental and will let the character move on from his actor’s past? I mean, look at how well Ben Affleck‘s Batman casting was received… or maybe not.

If we look at the late Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker, we see the perfection of insanity. I personally believe his performance was flawless and made The Joker more terrifying to me than previous actors’ representations did.

However, each individual star brought their own personal style out in The Joker. Each individual actor created The Joker with their own personal tastes and that appropriate at the time of release. Cesar Romero was the comedian while Jack Nicholson was the criminal mastermind. Even Mark Hamill in Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures is considered to have as iconic a take on The Joker as Ledger or Nicholson. In fact the only one I’d compare the closest to Ledger’s Joker would be Hamill’s. The new sinister Joker, like the one revamped in the comic book world had been placed on screen. He was a homicidal psychopath (except instead of killing them he cast his own grin on their faces, I mean come on; it was a kid’s show).

Romero and Nicholson’s performances did characterise The Joker’s mentality pretty well and did make him a little terrifying, what with facial expressions and general characteristics, but there wasn’t that glimmer of true insanity. I didn’t feel he was my worst enemy, and in all honesty they created a form of comic relief for the films. However, in the recent films and even games, The Joker’s comedy is simply unnerving; his image has become more graphic and the background of the character is more apparent, we have moved on from the Bronze Age of Batman and are now soaring through the timelines, expecting the next actor to be every inch of what The Joker represents.

I personally think the return of The Joker would be more than welcome among his fans, and I would be more than happy to see a new actor try and characterise and perfect The Joker’s image. My only issue with the film potentially being within the next few years is that looking at the talent pool of celebrity actors we have today I can only speculate the type of actor they will potentially go for (i.e. probably not a very good one), I think they should go for a lesser known, under the radar actor, who can really try and outshine every Joker prior.

The world has a lot of Batmen, but not enough Jokers.

So, tell me, do you think there should be a new Joker? And, who would you cast for the next film? Sound off in the comments below or send them to us on Twitter!

About the author

Daryl Winchester