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Joker vs. Joker: Who Played the Better Joker in the Batman Movies?

Gossip 2008/07/09 22:23:02
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The Joker, Batman's arch enemy, has played a key role in the Batman movies with his green hair, white skin and an evil, permanent smile. In 1989, the Joker, played by Jack Nicholson, became an icon who was a stone-cold killer while maintaining the persona of a humorous prankster. In 2008, the Joker is revived and played by Heath Ledger, and depicts an embodiment of evil and anarchy out to prove the absurdities of the wold, with no empathy for anyone.




Also, vote on: Batman vs Batman: Who played the best Batman?




And vote on Is Heath Ledger's Joker performance Oscar worthy?
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Top Opinion

  • jimmy 2008/07/28 17:42:33 (edited)
    Jack Nicholson, the Joker
    jimmy
    +21
    alot of voters wont remember jack nicholsons performance as much and will still be buzzin from heath's. even if jack was better, he couldnt win it. ask the question 20 years down the line for a better indication.

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  • TheBlackWarrior 2013/10/18 17:48:15
    Heath Ledger, the Joker
    TheBlackWarrior
    +1
    As much as I like Jack, he did "JACK NICHOLSON as The Joker!" whereas Heath disappeared into the role.
  • RedBelleMage 2013/07/12 14:17:56
    Heath Ledger, the Joker
    RedBelleMage
    +1
    Jack Nicholson was a comedic Joker. No knocking on Jack Nicholsons performance, it was good. In fact I grew up with Batman 1989. However I cannot deny that Heath Ledger took the Joker to a whole other level. The Joker as I read him, was a psychopath pure and simple. He didnt just like crime, he lived for destruction death and chaos. Heath Ledger embodied that darkness that total lack of conscience, empathy, and nihilism. Jack Nicholsons Joker made me laugh. Heath Ledgers Joker scared the crap out of me. Heath Ledger wins this one by a landslide
  • Rachel Limburg 2013/05/29 15:10:08
    Heath Ledger, the Joker
    Rachel Limburg
  • Sunny 2013/05/29 13:52:02
    Heath Ledger, the Joker
    Sunny
    Heath Ledger was the best joker hands down
  • 2013/05/27 10:29:52
    Heath Ledger, the Joker
    +1
    As a person who grew up watching batman movies in granny's house, I did grow up enjoying Jack Nicholson's joker, but Heath blows him out of the water. People who say Jack are, sadly, just living in an unreal nostalgia bubble.
  • Gabe Newell 2013/04/02 21:12:14
    Heath Ledger, the Joker
    Gabe Newell
    +2
    Heath wins.

    And please don't think that people vote for him because he died, come on. That gives me the right of calling you things that I am not going to call you.

    The reason why Heath was better is because he took the Character into realism, into THIS world. Those are different jokers, Jack is funny and his laugh is adorable. But Heath. He still has this sort of fun in him and you can really find many funny things in him, but not too many, because that would go against the film's theme. Heath plays a psychopathic and philosophical anarchist that totally creeps you out but you still, subtle, find him funny. Jack's laugh was great and fully to be proud of. He laughed this classical madman laugh like the former jokers, loud, long and evil.

    But Heath. My god.
    His laughs give me goosebumps, each and everyone of them. He took the joy and evilness out of them, and left a horrifying and haunting giggle that showes just pure madness. Not a theatrical and sensemaking laugh (witch is still pretty cool) but a joyless and nonsense giggle of pure crazyness.
  • nerdfitness2001 2013/02/12 10:32:24
    Heath Ledger, the Joker
    nerdfitness2001
    +1
    Let me tell you why you voted for Jack Nicholson. Most likely you were around for the 1989 movie when it came out in theaters. You have this idea in your head that the movie would be slightly funny with a twist of evil. Maybe a few people get shot but the Joker will come to a nice clean end. Instead, you get a true psychopath who portrays completely real situations that scare the crap out of you. I had nightmares for the next few days. People, especially older, don't like change. Jack Nicholson's joker is nothing compared to Heath Ledger's. Dancing around an art gallery to dance music is child's play compared to slowly torturing Harvey Dent until he turns to chaos.
  • Lucius Archangel 2012/12/16 03:32:33
    Heath Ledger, the Joker
    Lucius Archangel
    Hands down, Heaths Ledger. But thats because hes my favorite. but in reality were comparing dark chocolate to milk chocolate, same thing just a different taste. Jacks Nicholson was my favorite til heaths joker came along. Tim Burtons Joker was meant to be more of a comic feel and gothicish type of Joker while Nolans version was meant to be a more realistic and darker version of how the joker would b in real life. no fictonal laughing gas that gives u a smiley grin except guns and knives like a real life criminal, no bleached skin and red lips and green hair that would coincidentally make u look like a clown, but instead simple make up. Both portrayals were good in their own times and for their own genres. u want comic book joker? then jack nicholson is for u, u want a realisitic joker? Heath is ur man. i love both though but Heath is my favorite.


  • Christian Walczyk 2012/11/16 18:49:27
  • kelly.jo13 2012/10/23 18:14:38
    Jack Nicholson, the Joker
    kelly.jo13
    I think most people vote for Heath Ledger because....HE DIED! People believe its the right thing to do, and its not. First off, Heath overdosed. Kind of explains why he acted the way he did in his portrayal of the Joker. He played him like a crazed psychopath, with no sense of humor, hence "The Joker"...AT ALL. It was more like a horror movie, and to be quite frank, that took everything I had to finish the movie. It was like he was living out his own nightmare. I have a picture I have had for several years, I adore it, and people either love it, or they hate it...This will pretty much explain why I choose Jack. He is the one, the best, and Heath, well I pray that he is in a better place, but he definately did not leave this topic up for any debate, as far as I am concerned!!!!!!!!!!Now, put him in One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, and maybe we could chat about it. :) please click the link below to see the great artwork...

    Jack Nicholson as the joker
  • kelly.jo13 2013/05/27 10:31:43
    +3
    He overdosed on sleeping medication because he took the of the Joker so seriously and couldn't sleep.
  • Brad Ka... kelly.jo13 2014/03/18 12:45:03
  • Michael 2012/10/13 07:28:23
    Heath Ledger, the Joker
    Michael
    Posted Again for Clarity
    Sorry, but what Heath Ledger did to the joker will never be replicated in any movie role ever again. He embodied true relentless chaos and torment in a way such that viewers were terrified and awestruck at the same time. Rather than a man, he was evil's response to the rise of batman and the pursuit of peace and order. The meticulous manner in which he dismantled the people of Gotham's values and beliefs in good nature was something the Joker, played by Jack Nicholson, could never hope to do. Neither actors past movies should be considered here. Nobody was comparing Ledger's previous roles to the Joker because this wasn't the dashing Australian actor viewers had adored, this was a sinister creature that had no other purpose than to dismantle the morale and social structure of Gotham City. Jack Nicholson's joker attained his smile from a freak, unrealistic chemical accident. Ledgers smile, as mentioned several times, was carved into his face in his youth only adding to his tortured and pyschopathic charisma. Jack was undeniably good, but boiled down, he was a mean clown with a loaded gun. Heath's Joker was a force that shook viewers perceptions of what a villain could be and redefined what they are capable on and off the screen.
  • Brendan... Michael 2012/12/04 04:06:57
    Brendan Tirrell
    +9
    i think batman pursh him down into that thing
  • Andrew Graham 2012/10/09 01:11:57
    Jack Nicholson, the Joker
    Andrew Graham
    I Love Jack Nicholson as the Joker because he played the original creation and to take on the character he did and portray it with a likeness no one else ever can!! this has put him high in my book. If you choose Heath you have not followed Batman very long or ever because you are only going by the newer version that lacks the thought put into the Joker that made his character so sadistic, creative, funny and Highly intelligent. Jack found that balance and brought it life! All Heath did was be a sadistic and intelligent Joker. At least Jack's Joker had a background in the movie and you could get a sense of what made him. Heath's Joker gave up nothing("my dad did it""my wife made me do it") so you are lost as to what made him, which gives lack of care(by the writers) for the character. So you Brats pick up a damn comic book from before 1980 and learn something Hell watch the animated series from the 90'(Amazing! Mark Hamill words can not describe his brilliance as the Joker) then maybe you'll see what a true Joker is! So Shut up and look to the best before you say Heath is the best Joker!!
  • Sal Orl... Andrew ... 2012/10/26 15:50:13
    Sal Orlando
    +5
    It is not a lack of care by the writers to leave out the jokers true background. They wanted him to be a misunderstood man, a man of mystery who is twisted and sadistic in his nature. This is a new and interesting take on the character and in no way retracts from the performance. You are simply so stubborn and simplistic in your manner that you cannot take an objective look at Ledgers portrayal. You are stuck in the glory days and stated yourself that you love Jack because he played the original, why should we take the word of a biased man? Maybe we should stick with the original of everything and allow no room for change or improvement.
  • Gabe Ne... Andrew ... 2013/04/02 21:20:42
    Gabe Newell
    +2
    Dude, Heath did not choose to have no backstory, writers did. And it was cool.
  • Brad Ka... Andrew ... 2014/03/18 12:55:30
    Brad Karrik
    +2
    In the late '40s, that WAS Jack...the Joker. He was first "The Red Hood", which came out in '51. The joker didn't wear fancy-dancy clothes, his "grin" came from his leap into molecular acid, which deformed him, so he covered up his scars and now white skin with makeup. The original Joker was a gruesome, relentless, sociopath, ruthless killer with ZERO remorse for life and full of Anarchy. And Heath played that to a 'T'. Jack was....well..Jack. Jack Nicholson is Jack Nicholson in any role. Did Jack go into solitude for days to get into the character? No. He played a cheeky, funny, "kidz kan wach" kind of joker that was more of an entertainer than a mastermind, criminal. The '89 Joker was a dumbed down, "kid friendly", clown, which is not what the original joker was written as. But, we live in the day and age now of not letting kids see things for what they are. We can't scare them with a drop of reality, can't smack them on the rear end for discipline, give them a trophy for losing, etc...so thus: the Jack Nicholson joker was born.
  • NeilChildsDFC 2012/09/28 12:07:37
    Heath Ledger, the Joker
    NeilChildsDFC
    jack nicholson is one of the greatest actors of all time and played the joker really well but when heath ledger played the joker he killed everyone in the movie and any joker or villain
  • Rena NeilChi... 2013/06/01 00:40:54
    Rena
    Heath ledger did a good job bt jack did a great job. I watched the marathon recently n I must say I thot heath ws beta bt jack ws beautiful. D costume ws beautiful jack's smile ws a beautiful n d acting ws woah. N batman throwin him into d chemical ws realistic nt some paintin dt is comin off half way thru d movie. Jack looked n acted lik a sick joke while heath just acted sick without d joke
  • Brad Ka... Rena 2014/03/18 12:58:49
    Brad Karrik
    +1
    Sorry, I can't read txttype.
  • Tom Harth 2012/09/09 06:29:12
  • snickket 2012/09/01 01:22:04
    Jack Nicholson, the Joker
    snickket
    if your a true fan of the comic book it's jack nicholson, but i think heath ledger was scarier
  • Brad Ka... snickket 2014/03/18 13:00:21
    Brad Karrik
    +2
    If you're* a true fan of the original comics...Ledger. But, you only read the recent comics otherwise: The Red Hood would ring a bell....without having to jump to google to find out.
  • Charles Kusmier 2012/08/18 01:52:20
    Jack Nicholson, the Joker
    Charles Kusmier
    +1
    Most people who vote Ledger never really watched the 89 badman movie.
    The joker was suppose to be evil, funny and creative. Jack was.
    Jack lives on, but the character over took Heath it seems.
  • Brad Ka... Charles... 2014/03/18 13:04:22
    Brad Karrik
    +2
    Do you have proof that "most people that voted for Ledger never watched the 89 movie"? I did and it was a huge let down. I even knew better from the ORIGINAL comics from the late '40s and '50s Jack Nicholson was being Jack Nicholson, as he is in every role. There was nothing accurate to the Nicholson role as to the origins of the real Joker. Notice the ratings on the films? The REAL portrayal of the Joker with Ledger is rated R...meaning: No dumbed down, "sayfe fur kidz" crap.
  • chester.goldsmith 2012/08/17 03:00:57
    Heath Ledger, the Joker
    chester.goldsmith
    Heath Ledger's joker all the way. He did a really sensational job playing a character that has been already played before by a great actor, Jack Nicholson. It's amazing how he found a different way to portray the Joker. He perfected the Joker in a way no one will ever be able to. Rest in peace Heath, we lost such an excellent actor, I never would have guessed he had it in him, he made Australia proud. It will take a long time for Hollywood to come across a well developed actor at a young age, we might never see a better actor, who knows. By the way, not to mention the direction of TDK Chris Nolan, one of the finest directors out there.
  • Thalia 2012/08/10 20:39:02
    Heath Ledger, the Joker
    Thalia
    +1
    People are saying "Jack because he was more funny" and that Heath was too "sadistic" and was more of a "psychopath"....um...I could've SWORE that Joker was a psychopath. I think both performances were terrific, but Heath had a more realistic feel of the Joker. He really brought out the murderous and evil side in the Joker. And even though Heath's Joker wasn't AS humorous, I still thought it was funny here and there. But both men are terrific actors and both performaces were amazing, R.I.P. Heath.
  • 2012/07/25 21:55:43
    Jack Nicholson, the Joker
    jack is way better as the joker the joker should smile and be scary at the same time. Ledger never smiled and we whats the point in been the joker if ya not gonna smile.
    JACK IS THE BEST BEST BEST BEST BEST.
  • Haydar ... 2012/12/22 12:07:34
    Haydar Ahmed
    +6
    Ledger did smile, he was always smiling
  • Brad Ka... 2014/03/18 13:16:16
    Brad Karrik
    +2
    Nicholson fanboy spotted ^

    No, in all factual story/lore, the Joker had a deformed "grin" from the acid he fell into after he was the Red Hood, to escape arrest. Joker was not meant to be and not originally written as the '89 film. Educate yourself, then comment.
  • amanda.... Brad Ka... 2014/03/30 07:13:27
    amanda.r.schneider
    +2
    You wanna bring up "The Red Hood" one more time.
    Jesus.
  • OfficialTakeover 2012/07/25 12:06:53
    Jack Nicholson, the Joker
    OfficialTakeover
    If you're under 30 or didnt see Batman in 89 your vote shouldn't count! But really everytime I watch Dark Knight and I see Heath's Joker I dont think of Joker I think of Jack Nicholson! Jack's Joker set the bar and made the Batman movie worth watching! With that said Heath did a fabulous job but I still give Jack the nod!
  • Brad Ka... Officia... 2014/03/18 13:17:32
    Brad Karrik
    +3
    You never read or even seen the original Joker from the late '40s.
  • joshua.schuler.75 2012/07/19 13:02:23
    Jack Nicholson, the Joker
    joshua.schuler.75
    +1
    ok, i think most people here are too young to know who jack even is. the man has a history of psycho roles. heath, well doesnt really have anything other than roles catering to the youth. i had nightmares as an eight year old after seeing the joker completely fry a man to ash with a joy buzzer. jack's joker was funny, but really, he came to power after killing his boss (a mob boss). he terrorized an entire city, threw a party where he gave away stolen cash, then attempted to gas gotham to death, all just to lure out the bat. which, by the way, he was responsible for creating batman. jack's joker wasnt just a crazy clown having a bad day, he was a ruthless, maniacle, relentless, killer and mobster who destroyed people's lives just for fun. now, what did heath's joker really do? he robbed a mob owned bank, blew up a tanker truck, and accidentally created two-face. jack left young bruce wayne in a dark alley to watch his parents die. heath attempted to murder harvey dent. some might argue that heaths joker was shown as the killer in the dark night, true, but the story wasnt played up like it was in the original. jack wins. no question about it.
  • Michael joshua.... 2012/07/21 02:45:50
    Michael
    +4
    Sorry, but what Heath Ledger did to the joker will never be replicated in any movie role ever again. He embodied true relentless chaos and torment in a way such that viewers were terrified and awestruck at the same time. Rather than a man, he was evil's response to the rise of batman and the pursuit of peace and order. The meticulous manner in which he dismantled the people of Gotham's values and beliefs in good nature was something the Joker, played by Jack Nicholson, could never hope to do. Neither actors past movies should be considered here. Nobody was comparing Ledger's previous roles to the Joker because this wasn't the dashing Australian actor viewers had adored, this was a sinister creature that had no other purpose than to dismantle the morale and social structure of Gotham City. Jack Nicholson's joker attained his smile from a freak, unrealistic chemical accident. Ledgers smile, as mentioned several times, was carved into his face in his youth only adding to his tortured and pyschopathic charisma. Jack was undeniably good, but boiled down, he was a mean clown with a loaded gun. Heath's Joker was a force that shook viewers perceptions of what a villain could be and redefined what they are capable on and off the screen.
  • Brad Ka... joshua.... 2014/03/18 13:20:22
    Brad Karrik
    Wait, you're playing the "ur to yung" card when you were only 8 years old in '89?? Okay...

    And yes, Brokeback Mountain and A Knight's Tale were kid movies...suuurrreee...

    It's safe to say both: A. You don't know the original lore to the original Joker and B. Jack Nicholson fanboy.
  • LeingodX 2012/07/17 04:02:35
    Jack Nicholson, the Joker
    LeingodX
    +1
    Ledger's performance was awesome, but it didn't really feel like the Joker. Sans makeup, he could've been an entirely new (but awesome) villain and noone would've made any Joker parallels.
  • Brad Ka... LeingodX 2014/03/18 13:25:55
    Brad Karrik
    That's because you never knew of the what the original Joker really was, and it wasn't Jack's portrayal...at all.
  • Ieuan Lewis 2012/07/15 02:54:20
    Heath Ledger, the Joker
    Ieuan Lewis
    Definitely Heath Ledger, though his performance was clearly inspired by Nicholson with a darker more serious twist. Epic!
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