Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Cesar Romero as The Joker in Batman, 1966. (Photo: ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images)

Don’t call it a comeback. The Joker’s been here for years, rocking his peers and putting suckers in fear. But, in truth, it could not be more appropriate that Suicide Squad is topping the box office charts right now, since this year marks the 50th anniversary of The Joker’s first onscreen portrayal. The character goes back further than that in print, naturally. Batman had been around less than a year when he first encountered the giggly, green-haired harlequin in the funny books back in April 1940. But it wasn’t until 1966 that actor Cesar Romero, usually typecast as a Latin lover, played the Joker on both the big and small screens. A slew of Jokers, both animated and live action, followed. And now, the supercut experts at Burger Fiction have attempted to round up every last one of them in a video entitled “The Evolution Of The Joker (50 Years Of Crazy).”

Not surprisingly, given the title of this supercut, the portrayal of the Joker has varied wildly from one adaptation to the next. Over the course of five decades, he’s been a high-spirited mischief maker, a ruthless gangster with a clown motif, and an all-out psychopath with no moral compass whatsoever. Generally, the character has become darker and more violent over the years, in keeping with his murderous comic book origins. But he’s whatever Hollywood needs him to be at the moment. Some of these versions have been child-friendly (The New Scooby-Doo Movies). Some have been very much the opposite of that (Batman: The Killing Joke). It really depends on the tenor of the times and the nature of the project There’s really no such thing, therefore, as a “definitive” Joker, though Heath Ledger’s the only actor to have won an Oscar for playing the character. It could be argued that the most complete portrayal is that of Mark Hamill, who has voiced the Joker in numerous animated series and movies.


Incidentally, as an explanation of why the Joker’s personality changes so much from one iteration to another, The Film Theorists recently posted an interesting episode about that. It turns out that there’s not just one Joker but three of him. This video makes an excellent companion piece to the Burger Fiction supercut. As the various clips of movies, TV shows, and video games flash by, the viewer can try to guess which of the three Jokers is being portrayed.

[via Laughing Squid]

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