With two standalone Joker movies potentially in the works — one being the return of Jared Leto and the other reportedly starring Joaquin Phoenix in a film directed by Todd Phillips — it made things very clear to us: we need our favorite Joker actors ranked, and pronto.
With The Joker expected to make multiple appearances in a Suicide Squad sequel, Harley Quinn-based origin story and now two reported Joker origin movies, we can see we’re on the heels of a big blockbuster push for our favorite supervillain. That’s why we’re ranking our favorite actors to play The Clown Prince of Crime from least favorite to the very best right here. The only question? Where will Joaquin fit into the mix when all is said and smiling?
** Honorable mention goes to Mark Hamill and Kevin Michael Richardson for their iconic animated Joker voiceovers. **
**Tommy Wiseau, however, not so much.**
5. Cameron Monaghan
We only have Fox to blame, as we love Cameron on Showtime’s Shameless as the bipolar personality of the Gallagher clan. He’s right for the role with his animated expressions and sinister gear, but between the origin story and the over-the-top characters of Gotham, it makes this Joker hard to stand alongside some of the heavily iconic roles in film. You’re trying too hard, Fox.
4. Jared Leto
There’s a possibility we’ll get three more green-haired Leto appearances as the inspired prince of crime. However, this modern take on a more public gangster Joker was held in reserve in the first Suicide Squad, a film even the most comic book-crazed fans had a hard time getting behind. We’ll give Leto props for going a very different route following Ledger’s unfollow-able role.
The Joker’s easy, but Tyler is another story.
3. Cesar Romero
The only thing as classic as Adam West’s Batman is the matching villain — played by Cesar Romero — more than 50 years ago for the first major film feature including the character. Not only did he play the role to perfection in the 1966 movie, but he was a major role to the three-year TV run while he was in his ’60s.
Personally, we love that you can see his mustache stubble more than anything, but the clip of him and Batman surfing is unreal.
2. Jack Nicholson
That’s a fact, Jack. Tim Burton did right by everyone when he cast Nicholson in the reimagined role, balancing equal parts evil with goofy. This role is one of our favorites to watch, and it inspired possibly the best take on The Joker we’ll ever see…
…well, at least for close to 30 years.
1. Heath Ledger
Obviously, this brings us to Heath. One of the few times an actor has won an Academy Award for a superhero role, Ledger transformed Jack’s Joker into a much darker, grittier character to match the tone of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight a decade ago. While his method acting cost everyone dearly in the end, the role will be canonized as untouchable.
Which begs the question: Where will Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker land in this Joker pile? We’re hoping somewhere between Jack and Heath, but we won’t get our hopes up. Although, between Todd Phillips — the poster director for male mayhem in movies — Martin Scorsese and Joaquin, you know someone’s going to have an ace up their sleeve.