“C’mon, Bats, Get Crazy. It’s the only way to beat me!” There is no one more complicated than the Joker. Since making his first appearance in Batman #1 in 1940 this enigma of a character has become one of the most sought after. This is in terms of actors wishing to take on the role or fans wanting to see more screen time given to the self proclaimed clown king. Nearly seventy-seven years later and he still remains an enigma. Is this what makes him one of the most iconic villains in modern culture? Is this what keeps us coming back for more?
There have been many great portrayals of the Joker over the years from Jack Nicholson to most recently Health Ledger. We even have one in the pipeline with Jared Leto taking up the role in the upcoming Suicide Squad film. There has however been one dominant figure amassing more time with the character than any other actor in history. I am of course talking about the legend that is Mark Hamill.
To some it may seem a shock that the greatest Jedi in the Galaxy is also the much loved psychopathic clown, however more and more voice actors are becoming more prominent. I recently watched a documentary called “I Know That Voice” exploring the faces behind the voice. An interesting look into the amount of work that goes into making a career in this industry. With insights from the world of voice acting including John DiMaggio, Nolan North , Kevin Conroy and Hank Azaria to name a few. A great film which is worth a watch. On the Joker topic everyone in the documentary just quotes Mark Hamill and how he raised the bar. There is a huge amount of respect for this man for what he has done with this character with peers even going as far as to say “You cannot beat Mark, You can only try to replicate him”.
No doubt if he was younger, fans would be begging studios to cast Hamill as the Clown Prince of Darkness. Would it be the same though? From behind the curtain Hamill has been able to create something unbelievably sadistic and simply chilling. Something so revolutionary for this character that surely its impossible to recreate on screen. With the use of modern CGI we have seen the Hamill’s Joker venture on his own epic trilogy that giving him more “screen time” than any other Joker previous. You completely forget that this man is Luke Skywalker. Watch clips of his performances and you’ll see he doesn’t just change his voice and read the lines but actually channels the character acting as he would in each scene. Whether its his walk, laugh or stare you see that Hamill is not just a voice but the real deal.
Arkham Asylum for me was an eye-opener. It showed me a version of the Joker that I never thought was possible. This comic book creation had been fully realised in full 3D form along with persona and voice. Start to finish the Joker felt a threat always bearing down on the bat. Some villains presence are forgotten very quickly, not this one. As I ventured through room to room, crawling through ventilation with one constant throughout. The comical commentary. Whatever I was doing, Joker had an opinion. One that I was very glad to hear. The comical nature of the character was brought out so well with yet that sinister undertone we have all come to expect. Arkham City yet again was a masterpiece with a more injured Joker taking on the Bat. This sense of desperation is fed across so well and becomes more apparent as you venture through the full Rocksteady trilogy.
For me I have always had a voice in my head that represents the Joker. Now that voice is Mark Hamill’s. With nearly twenty-five years experience in the role no one is more qualified. I look forward to many more years of Hamill exploring the Joker along with visiting the animated series to see how he started out. It’s very unlikely we will ever see Mark Hamill onscreen as the clown, but there is no doubt his interpretation will stand the test of time and for me personally he will always be my Joker.
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