The evolution of the sinister Joker
The 5th of August, what does this date mean to you? Some will have birthdays, anniversaries, weddings etc For many comic buffs though it means one thing…the release of the anticipated Suicide Squad. Based on the DC story about a group of very different anti-heroes that are selected to embark on a suicidal mission for the Government. This is a film that has many famous DC characters starring but for me, the most iconic, villainous and interesting character I myself am excited for is the eccentric, violent and mentally unstable… Joker. Over the many years different talented actors have taken on the highly respectable role of this character.
Going back to 1966 saw the iconic Joker played by the legendary late Cesar Romero who took on the character and made him into somewhat of a comedy menace, with light hearted slapstick and mischievous plans, this started the evolution of what would become a darker more terrifying character.
Going on almost 25 years later saw the great Jack Nicholson jump into the makeup and purple suit of the Joker for the 1989 film version of Batman directed by the highly respected Tim Burton. Nicholson’s portrayal of the character still had the slapstick “hip” humour that was expected of the Joker, yet evolving in this character was the more sinister and murderous side that had been left somewhat in the dark during the character’s earlier years. Nicholson made the character his own at that time and the Joker wasn’t used in a film adaptation again…until 2008 that is.
2008 and in comes the late Heath Ledger taking on the Joker’s character in the blockbuster Batman film The Dark Knight. Many critics were sceptical about this angel faced, pretty boy taking on the role of such an iconic villain, what they witnessed on release was somewhat of a masterpiece when it came to Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker. The character went to a whole new level in film and became a dark, twisted and sadistic villain that no one expected to see. While still keeping the humour in parts of the film it was hard to look past how disturbing Ledger actually made this character, furthermore how he actually came to own the title as the greatest actor to ever play the Joker.
In between all these feature films starring the maniac that is the Joker, there has also been many animated series most famously voiced by the awesome Jedi that is Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars series) that people forget about and numerous comic adaptations. Some could easily see how the character of the Joker has evolved into such a dark individual just by reading some of the graphic novels created by some amazing DC writers and artists. One graphic book that stands out from most is that of one titled simply as ‘Joker’ by the award winning author Brian Azarello with the art of Lee Bermejo. Once combined these two men created a novel about the Joker so disturbing that it was difficult to put down once reading began. Luckily it was an easy read and didn’t take too much of my social life away from me!
Now onto a man who is about to be judged by his portrayal of the famous character. Jared Leto a recent Academy Award winner for his portrayal as the transgender woman Rayon in the award winning film Dallas Buyers Club has been fully focused on getting into character for his new role. Leto is taking on new ownership as the Joker in the upcoming film Suicide Squad, starring alongside a brilliant cast including Will Smith and Margot Robbie who are playing the characters Deadshot and Harley Quinn.
The film has been very secretive in regards to production and advertisement until the recent months where it has hit people in the faces with amazing teaser trailers. The whole character of Leto’s Joker has also until last year been kept under wraps, people not knowing how Leto is going to portray or even look like as the crazed villain. It was Comi-Con where leaked footage of a Suicide Squad trailer showed the Joker for the first time through its amateur, grainy camera footage. To stop the bad quality video from circulating Warner Bro’s released the trailer early for everyone to witness the new Joker in all his glory, even if it was only for a few seconds towards the end.
More trailers have since been released and people are starting to get their own feelings towards this new age, tattooed Joker. I for one think Jared Leto’s take on to this character will be amazing, comparing it to Heath Ledger’s Joker would be the wrong thing to do as both Joker’s seem worlds apart in the form they take on as the character. I think we are about to witness a new and re-born character, one who oozes violence, craziness and intelligence.
The new take on the character is a smart move and I believe it will let each actor that has ever played the Joker their own ownership of the title. We can only wait to see what the Suicide Squad film will be like, but giving the cast involved and an amazing actor like Leto playing the Joker, I think we are in for an incredible cinematic experience.
Let’s see if Jared Leto’s Joker puts a smile on our faces.