Joker has become one of the most ubiquitous clowns in pop culture, especially after the release of his new standalone film. How could he not be when he's basically as popular as Batman himself by now? Some might be thinking, what's so special with the Joker? Clown antagonists are a dime a dozen! Well, for starters, he's not exactly your typical madman.
Mr. J might be crazy but his plans are exceptionally cunning and creative. He has a knack for thinking way outside the box when it comes to plotting his sinister schemes. Oh, did we mention that his ingenious ideas are all coming from a completely insane mind? That said, being in Joker's shoes isn't easy, and not because they're big clown shoes either!
There's a certain degree of complexity to Joker's fractured personality. Trying to personify his madness is as difficult as trying to understand a crazy person! While many have tried portraying the notorious clown prince, not all of them were successful in capturing the true essence of his demented persona. Here are 5 Jokers who fell short, along with 10 of the most convincing portrayals of the infamous jester.
15 Worst: Zach Galifianakis (The Lego Batman Movie)
Okay, first of all, Zach sounds nothing like The Joker. Joker is menacing and intimidating while Zach's Joker sounds like, well, just Zach Galifianakis! Sure, Lego Joker is supposed to be more lighthearted. However, that doesn't excuse his Joker from performing poorly. Actor Christopher Corey Smith also voiced Lego Joker but at least he gave a little more effort in actually sounding like the clown prince.
14 Best: Michael Emerson (The Dark Knight Returns)
Michael Emerson's take on the iconic clown menace is quite unique. His Joker is a lot more calm, mature yet still as downright insane as ever! This chilling interpretation also has a lot to do with his role in the film Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Let's just say, things didn't end well for Joker but he certainly left quite an impact on both Batman and the audience.
13 Worst: Tony Hale (Batman Ninja)
Batman Ninja might sound cool but the film itself is certainly a bizarre concept. What's even more peculiar is Tony Hale's interpretation of The Joker! In this film, the clown prince has become lord Joker, revered by many, hated by most. Joker gave up his intimidating side by being more whimsical, playful and at times, even turning into an amnesiac! Hale's Joker sometimes even sounds like a totally different character.
12 Best: David Howard Thornton (Nightwing: Escalation)
While only appearing in the web series Nightwing: Escalation, David Howard Thornton's Joker is still among the most accurate yet criminally underrated portrayals of the notorious jester. Thornton was able to bring the character to life with his expressive gestures and creepy undertones. It's almost like a live-action version of Mark Hamill's Joker! As expected from the one who played as Art the clown in the horror flick Terrifier.
11 Worst: Jeff Benett (Batman: The Brave and the Bold)
Jeff Benett is better known as the voice of Johnny Bravo. He also tried his hand on voicing The Joker in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series. Of course, the keyword here is 'tried.' He should've tried harder though. Benett's portrayal seemed kinda off, to say the least. When the sinister clown prince of crime starts sounding like a character from SpongeBob SquarePants, something's not right.
10 Best: Troy Baker (Batman: Arkham Origins)
Troy Baker has amazing vocal range when it comes to voice acting. While Baker is mostly known for his stellar performance as Joel from The Last Of Us, he also did a good job in lending his voice to The Joker. He almost sounds like Mark Hamill's Joker albeit a younger version of him!
From Joel's raspy voice and Southern accent to Joker's maniacal cackle, Baker's versatility certainly is baffling.
9 Worst: Brent Spiner (Young Justice)
Brent Spiner's version of the notorious Joker is anything but convincing. Fans who have seen Young Justice might even cringe after watching Joker deliver his cheesy lines. Spiner's Joker tried to be edgy too much that it came out a bit corny. If being crazy comes natural to Mr. J, then why is he even trying too hard in convincing people that he is?
8 Best: Kevin Michael Richardson (The Batman)
Kevin Michael Richardson's Joker might look more like a jester than a criminal mastermind. However, don't let the looks fool you, this clown means business! Richardson's deep baritone voice adds another layer of intimidation to Joker's repertoire. It's a shame that Joker's character design in The Batman animated series sort of hampered Richardson's eerie portrayal.
7 Worst: Jared Leto (Suicide Squad)
While Jared Leto's performance as Joker in Suicide Squad was decent, there just wasn't enough screen time to actually highlight the clown prince's trademark personality. Of course, a lot of the negative criticisms also came from his Joker's poor costume design. This only made fans cringe before they even saw Leto actually perform!
It's kinda hard to focus on Leto's performance when his ridiculous get-up becomes excruciatingly distracting.
6 Best: Michael Dobson (Batman: Black and White)
Michael Dobson is best known as the voice of Starscream in Transformers. Who would've thought that he'd also do a fantastic impression of The Joker? While the appearance of Dobson's Joker in Batman: Black and White might've been brief, he still deserves credit simply because he also voiced Batman as well.
Whenever Batman and Joker are on the same scene, he's practically talking to himself, now that sounds like Joker!
5 Best: John DiMaggio (Batman: Under The Red Hood)
How can anyone make Joker any more intimidating than he already is? Seems like John DiMaggio found a way to do just that! By giving him a deeper voice, a more disturbing laugh and an unsettling demeanor, DiMaggio was able to personify a clown that everyone will want to take seriously. Forget clowning around, his Joker means business!
4 Best: Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Heath Ledger basically reinvented the Joker role with his appalling yet intriguing take on the infamous Ace of Knaves. Just when fans thought they've seen everything that Joker has to offer, Ledger comes into the picture.
Ledger's portrayal gave a fresh new outlook to the mad jester's dented psyche. His unnerving mannerisms, cold, contemptuous stare and sinister snickering could send chills down the spine.
3 Best: Jack Nicholson (Batman)
There have been numerous versions of the clown prince on the big screen but many fans still prefer Jack Nicholson's portrayal. There's a good reason for that. You see, Jack can look intimidating even without the clown makeup. Having him don The Joker's iconic get-up only makes him even more menacing! Fans who have seen The Shining know very well just how crazy Jack could get.
2 Best: Mark Hamill (Various)
Whenever fans mention The Joker, Mark Hamill's name usually gets mentioned afterwards, most often than not. Why? Well, it's quite simple. Hamill has been voicing Joker for years! While various voice actors also portrayed Joker, Hamill has been doing it consistently and longer than anyone else. Hamill breathed life into the clown prince of crime, from the small screen, the big screen to even in video games!
1 Best: Cesar Romero (Batman TV Series)
Cesar Romero inspired most of the live-action iterations of the infamous Joker. Almost every live-action Joker we see today take a piece out of Romero's iconic portrayal of Mr. J. He basically set the standard on how to play the notorious Ace of Knaves! From his signature cackle, practical jokes and comical antics, Romero's Joker will always have a place in the hearts of Batman fans.