Live-Action Joker Performances Ranked By Us
Live-Action Joker Performances Ranked: From Heath Ledger To Joaquin Phoenix! (Picture Credit: IMDb)

Joker in the DC comics is one of the most popular villains and has been portrayed on screen by various actors. When fans anticipate Joaquin Phoenix starrer Joker: Folie à Deux’s release this year, let us rank the actors who played Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime on screen. Check out the complete list below, from Heath Ledger to Phoenix and more.

Joker is Batman’s biggest and most famous enemy, and the antagonist was created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson. The character made its debut in Batman comic book in 1940. He has been part of Bruce Wayne’s stories, including killing the second Robin, Jason Todd, and paralyzed one of his allies, Barbara Gordon.

Over the years, many actors have played the role of Joker on screen. Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix won the Oscars for their portrayals. Other actors also might play the character on the screen in the future. However, some actors have faced much backlash from the fans for their acting. Let us see which actor falls in which position.

7. Barry Keoghan in The Batman (2022)

(Picture Credit: Instagram)

We have placed Barry Keoghan in the last position for his brief appearance at the end of The Batman and in one deleted scene later released online. We have yet to see him fully-fledged, and as per speculations, his version of the Joker will play a significant role in Pattinson-led The Batman 2. The movie is expected to be released in 2025. It has been directed by Matt Reeves and is said to be outside James Gunn’s DC Universe. The film features Jeffrey Wright, Zoë Kravitz, Andy Serkis, Paul Dano, Colin Farrell, and others in the supporting cast.

6. Jared Leto in The Suicide Squad (2016)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)

Honestly, Leto should have been at the last spot on this list for his outrageous portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime, but he escaped it due to Barry’s short screen time. He appeared as the titular character in The Suicide Squad, starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie. The only good thing about this movie was hiring Robbie as Harley Quinn because she was fantastic. David Ayer directed the film, and not only was Leto a big fail on the big screen, but his method of acting took things to a different level off-screen. He allegedly presented his cast-mates with bizarre gifts, including giving Margot a live rat.

5. Cesar Romero in Batman (mid-1960s)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)

The actor played the role of Joker in the live-action Batman television series. In 2013’s TV Guide’s list, he was one of the Nastiest Villains of All Time. Today, people get to see several comic book movies, and this series was one of the first live-action shows to give fans a glimpse into the world outside the books. He was the first actor to play the character. He passed away in 1994 at the age of eighty-six. It featured Adam West as Batman.

4. Cameron Monaghan in Gotham (2015-2019)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)

Famous for the role of Ian Gallagher in Shameless, he played the Clown Prince of Crime in the TV series Gotham. The series had five seasons and was developed by Bruno Heller under Warner Bros Television. It featured Ben McKenzie as James Gordon, Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, and David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne.

3. Jack Nicholson in Batman (1989)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)

Nicholson is an exceptional artist, and he made the character iconic and set a benchmark for the other actors by giving his fantastic performance in the role of Joker. Tim Burton directed the film and ensured the character remained as comic-accurate as possible. The film featured Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne, who reprised his role in 2023’s The Flash starring Ezra Miller.

2. Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)

Joaquin Phoenix underwent severe weight loss for his role as Arthur Fleck. It is another movie that will allegedly stay out of James Gunn’s DC Universe. The film earned Phoenix an Academy Award, and this movie is the origin story of the Joker. The film has a very grounded approach as it portrays how poverty and mental health problems can lead to a drastic change in someone’s personality; it can turn them into a sadistic murderer as well.

1. Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)

No one can top Heath Ledger’s sinister and grotesque portrayal as the Joker. He appeared in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and more than Christian Bale as Batman. Ledger’s character was appreciated, and his dialogue, “Why so serious?” is still considered epic. The actor passed away a few months before the film’s release due to a drug overdose, failing to witness the cinematic history he created. He received numerous posthumous awards for the role, including an Oscar. Heath brought in his unique elements in the character, like licking his lips and everything that made him look terrifying on screen. He has been and probably will be at the top of this list for a long time.

Special mention – Mark Hamill in Batman: The Animated Series (1992-95), The Arkham video game series (2009-15), & The Killing Joke (2016)

Mark Hamill, known for playing Luke Skywalker, is one of the best actors in the animated space who has portrayed the Joker remarkably well.

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