Brave New World That Has Such Yutzes In It

Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson thought him up. Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams saved him from obscurity. Jack Nicholson made him real, and Heath Ledger redefined him. None of these people should ever be forgotten, but for my money there's no substitute for all the work that Mark Hamill (of all people) put into bringing him to life. His contribution to Paul Dini's animated series remains my favorite depiction of the clown prince of crime, despite the fact that recent incarnations have clearly been better overall.

I guess the reason for this is that there were times when I couldn't help but root for the guy, which I never really did for Ledger or Nicholson. You wanted Heath Ledger to pay for what he'd done. Hamill's joker was different -- to him it was always just a game, a twisted version of fun.

In fact, I tend to think Hamill's Joker would be repulsed by a world where everyone was in on the gag, as Jack Nicholson's wanted.
And not fer nothing, but could you even imagine what living in a hell like that would be like?
Even when the movie versions asked us not to take things so seriously -- you knew those Jokers were completely committed to their goals, which eventually made them the single-minded villains they were supposed to be and not just a darker shade of comic relief.
And we all know what it's like to be around someone who takes their job waaay too seriously, right?
..This guy knows.

[Listening To:  The Fixx"Stand or Fall" ]

Comments

whatigotsofar said…
The Mark Hamill joke is both vicious and funny in all the right ways. And that Return of the Joker Directors Cut. Oh so violent. Oh so great.
mnwhr said…
Hamill was by far the most consistent Joker. It being a "kids" cartoon means most folks have never seen it.
Werdna said…
Loved the Batman the Animated Series. That is one American animation show that I can say stacks up well against the best of Japan. Hamill was brilliant and so was the animation. A high number of the scripts were good too.

I laughed like hell at the college humor cartoon (which I don't normally do). That was a winner.

It was strangely the inverse of why I like Batman more than Superman (and why Frank Miller's Dark Knight is still pretty good even though Reagan isn't in office)- Superman has no flaws...
Hex said…
WIGSF -- Batman Beyond as a series was generally underrated. I think they approached some very cool ideas in that show, but the Return of the Joker movie was a whole higher level. Great flick.

mnwhr -- His performance is one of those things that sticks with you, sort of creates a standard that everything else is measured against. And even when he was undercut by censors or the material -- he made it genuinely funny every time. The guy rocks.

Werdna -- there was a fantastic episode of the animated series where they sort of did a bunch of flashbacks through the various eras of batman's past -- including a great sequence of the Frank Miller stuff when there was a female Robin and Batman drove a tank. Awesome stuff!
Monster said…
Totally agree on the Hamill Joker... to me the Joker was always scary because he didn't so much care if YOU got it - like an evil Andy Kauffman.

Whew - just freaked myself out.

Anyway, I read somewhere that the Batman animated series (ditto on the love) was the first American-made prime time cartoon in which someone died. Not a robot or an alien or whatever - but a person. Also, I think I remember hearing that they drew it on black cells, so all the black in the show was just negative space. Also cool.

Okay done (going to find Batman the Animated Series online somewhere).
Werdna said…
I saw the BTaS show with the Frank Miller homage on TV and online. I always thought it was a funny little nod.

The art on black cells, I'd heard also...so it must be true.

What a great show.