Ever since Christopher Nolan released the outstanding “Dark Knight” trilogy into the DC Universe, the role of the joker was left at a very high standard with some very big clown shoes to fill. This is down to Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as the “Clown Prince Of Gotham”.
Since the passing of Heath Ledger, the role of the joker was under scrutiny as many fans believed the role shouldn’t have been reprised as no one else was fit to hold the mental strain necessary to portray this haunted character.
In recent years a few people have tried to put their own spin on this iconic role.
The first on-screen appearance was Jack Nicolson’s joker in 1989. Many say this role is the benchmark performance of the infamous joker role. Many actors have tried to use this version of the joker as the building blocks of their performance. Nicolson’s role is known for his quirky attitude followed by his ability to steal the show in certain scenes is what makes his portrayal so iconic. He is considered as the funniest on-screen joker with perfectly timed puns and one-liners. It is also said that Nicolson had nailed the joker’s laugh so perfectly that people thought he was made for the role.
Then Heath Ledger portrayed the clown in a now-iconic role which won him an Oscar for the best supporting actor after his tragic death in 2008. He also won a BAFTA award, Critics’ Choice award and a People’s Choice award for best onscreen chemistry alongside his co-star Christian Bale. This made Ledger the most decorated joker as of yet. After Ledger’s performance and his heartbreaking death there was a very hard decision left for future directors and actors to make, one bad performance on-screen could lead to a lot of hate and controversy. The role of the joker was left vacant for eight years following the “Dark Knight” trilogy until Jared Leto put on his face paint for the 2016 Suicide Squad film.
Even though his role of the joker was one of the most criticised characters by fans, Leto has gotten a second chance to portray his character in an upcoming sequel to Suicide Squad. Why, oh why? Leto’s role was under great scrutiny after Heath Ledger’s performance and in the months leading to Suicide Squad’s release, reports came out that Leto (a very selective method actor) was immersing himself in the role by sending his co-stars “odd gifts” and avoiding human interaction unless it was necessary. This made a lot of fans excited for his role in the movie until it was released. The lack of screen time and something not feeling right with his performance lead to an abundance of criticism from fans, news articles and even some celebrities. Regardless of the past, Leto has a second chance to win over the hearts of DC fans with this new film that is yet to be released but this won’t be an easy task.
Now to Joaquin Phoenix’s role which has received an unexpected amount of support by major film critics and by most importantly fans. Instead of being an unhinged antagonist to Batman, this new movie focuses on a lighter back story making joker the protagonist. This is why the film has received positive reviews. The background story of the joker has been nailed by a director in a full film rather than in bits and random scenes like in Suicide Squad. Even though it was a lighter role than in recent years, the haunted role has affected Joaquin as well. He lost 52 pounds in just 6 months for the role. Joaquin has stated that: “The first thing was the weight loss, that’s really what I started with. As it turns out, that impacts your psychology, and you really start to go mad when you lose that much weight in that amount of time. There’s also a book about political assassins that I thought was interesting, this broke down the different types of personalities that do those sorts of things [I do in the film].” This is the everlasting effect of this role which demands the absolute most in the mental and physical strength of those who dawn the white clown face paint.
Ryan Adair – TY Press