With the recent casting announcement of Jared Leto as the Clown Prince of Crime in the upcoming 2016 Suicide Squad film, many fans are wondering if he has the chops to pull off Batman’s greatest enemy. For such an iconic role, Leto will have to follow in the footsteps of previous Joker actors such as Cesar Romero of the 60’s Adam West television show, Jack Nicholson of the 1989 Tim Burton movie, and Heath Ledger from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, as well as several animated versions, the most notable of them being Mark Hamill. Hamill marks the only animated Joker in a theatrically-released feature film, 1993’s Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a spinoff movie of the critically-acclaimed Batman: the animated series.
Does Leto have the talent to possibly outdo his predecessors? It is unclear which interpretation of the Joker the new film will be following, but so far each actor has drawn on different aspects of the character’s personality. Romero utilized the Golden/silver age comic book interpretation, which worked well during the time the show aired. Nicholson was truer toward the character’s roots, portraying him as both a murderous psychopath and comedic, eccentric madman. Ledger’s performance took the Joker in a new direction for a new age. Portraying the character as a psychopathic anarchist, Ledger redefined the role for a new generation. Hamill’s portrayal, although voice-only, has been considered one of the greatest interpretations ever, as his version can range from silly to psychotic in one scene. Leto will no doubt put his own unique spin on the iconic villain, perhaps even incomparable to the previous versions.