After finally seeing The Dark Knight and living through the hype surrounding this movie for the past 3 months, I thought it was time to write a rating article. No, I’m not rating which Batman character was better(that one should be obvious: Adam West of course!), and I’m not going to rate the movies themselves. That has been done time and again, in jest and in seriousness.
No, my rating article is much more provocative, meaning, it will probably piss off most fan-boys and fan-girls. So, without further ado, I give to you:
JOKER vs. JOKER vs. JOKER
#3: Cesar Romero
The Clown Prince of Crime that began Joker’s life on the silver screen. Using a sinister smorgasbord of prankish weaponry, this Joker fought with Batman and Robin for a long run of television shows and one movie in the 1960’s, which was better known for its homo-erotic tendencies than action and drama.
Make-Up and Costume:
I think it’s obvious that the costume designers outfitted Romero from Liberace’s closet, or was it the other way around? At any rate, we do get the clownish purple suit, a staple for any Joker. However, the greatest atrocity has to do with his make-up.
Green Hair: Check
White Face-Paint: Check
Big Red Painted Smile: Check
Moustache Growth underneath White Face-Paint: Ugh
It’s hard to pay attention to anything Romero’s Joker does when the moustache cleverly not-shaven is more perceptible then the gawking grin. Another problem is out of all the Jokers, his is the only one that has no physical deformity added to it, unless you count the moustache.
Attitude: Especially in the movie, Romero’s Joker seems to be the dumbest of all the criminals. He plays the jester, complete with reprimands from the king Penguin, queen Catwoman, and knight Riddler. The problem is that he can hardly be called “funny.” Maybe back in the 60’s his shenanigans were funny, but in this day and age, it’s tiring comedy. Something that may make it to The Disney Channel these days(see Hannah Montana, but with an empty stomach.)
Bad-Assness: He carries around an assortment of goofy gadgets, and usually has a gang of henchmen fight with prerequisite “BAM”s and “POW”s and “MADAGASCAR”s thrown in. The Joker himself usually receives a beating.
#2: Heath Ledger
Oh, yes I DID! I am bringing the deceased and already crowned Oscar winner down to the #2 spot. Sure, The Dark Knight was great(besides the ridiculously modulated voice of Christian Bale when he’s Batman.) Heath Ledger put on a spectacular performance, whether or not he was on drugs. But the best “Joker?”
Make-Up and Costume: This neo-Joker does have some cool make-up. It’s sadistic, it’s clever, it’s trendy. Go ask the billions of people who take their own picture with their newly created Joker make-up. However, it’s a little too deep. “Oh, woooow, he, like, changes the story of how he got his scars every time he starts talking about them.” Yeah, great. He’s a loon. As if robbing mob banks dressed up like a clown didn’t clear that up already.
Also, one outfit? Come-on, he doesn’t change until he gets into that nurse outfit(which I admit, was great.)
I know, it’s dark, deep, and plays into the Joker’s psyche. I think it went too deep, which brings me to…
Attitude: As a Joker, one of the defining elements in all of the comic books is how the Joker laughs at the most inhuman things, to the point that we ourselves get a dark little giggle out of it. Heath Ledger had a few of those gags: the disappearing pencil trick: sliding down a mountain of money like a kid: the nurse outfit: jiggling the remote detonator. Those were great scenes. The problem is, they were few and far between. Surely they could have pulled a few more gags to make this Joker really shine in his madness.
Bad-Assness: What’s in his pockets? Knives and lint. He plans out the decimation of his own team of bank robbers by each other. He drives around with a rocket-launcher. He blows up a hospital. He turns Gotham City into a mob. And he does it all with a smile. That has bad-ass written all over it, although he still gets a beating from Batman when instituting fisticuffs.
#1: Jack Nicholson
Maybe I’m just a sucker for the classics, but I think Nicholson’s Joker is still in a league of its own. Here we have a perfect melding of comedy and violence. Yes, there are times that he starts dancing around like a goon to Prince, and I can’t watch, but at the same time, it plays with the idea that the Joker will kill or mutilate anyone with a big ol’ grin on his face.
Make-Up and Costume: The smile gets me every time. Jack Nicholson probably could have gone without the rubberized face implants and still had a great Joker smile. But we get the make-up, and it is fantastic. What makes it even better(and dare I say, just as deep) is that he puts on flesh-toned make-up TO LOOK NORMAL!!! Suck on that, fan-kids.
Also, this Joker has some style. He drinks martinis in one lounge outfit, then shows up at a museum in baggy pants the next. And lets not forget the prerequisite purple suit.
Attitude: The gags may be goofy at times(electrocuting hand-buzzer, fake gun, re-painting art, parade balloons), but keep in mind that this Joker doesn’t stop laughing while killing off a hundred or so people(no, I didn’t really count.) He contaminates beauty supplies to make people laugh themselves to death with a goffy-ass grin on their face. He dances to Prince. This blend of sadism with a smile is what put Jack ahead of Heath.
Bad-Assness: Not much of a fighter, but with the right toys, he’ll bury you without you even knowing it. Case in point: he shoots down the Bat-Jet with a cannon of a gun that he pulls out of his pants. Of course, when the chips are down, he can’t throw a punch past his elbow, but neither can I, so I can’t begrudge him that.
So there you have it. I’ve stirred the pot. Heath Ledger is not the Golden Child. I will, however, be seeing the movie for a second time this weekend, IMAX-style.