It’s because of these Jokers; the movie was a huge success.
We’re pitting late great Heath Ledger against the living legend Joaquin Phoenix to see who gave us the superior big-screen reincarnation of the iconic Bat-Man villain, The Joker.
Actors take the role of playing Joker seriously, perhaps because of it’s popularity and gritty psycho nature that puts the character to shame if not captured with delicacy and perfection.
Phoenix: sports Joker’s trademark purple suit complete with an orange-yellow vest with blue and green accents. It’s immaculate. For Joker’s face though, the clown makeup is a pretty significant departure from the source material instead, going for a classic clown look including blue diamonds around the eyes and a cherry on top of the nose.
Ledger: In adapting the Joker for his gritty, dark, and take on the Batman mythology, Christopher Nolan took even more liberties with Joker’s appearance. Purple is still the outfit’s color, but the coat is longer. In comics, the Joker’s color is permanently white as a sheet, but Ledger’s version is wearing makeup which is coming off a little on his forehead. Most noticeable however is the addition of Glasgow smile stars which Ledger accentuates with red lipstick to create his wicked smile.
Round Winner: Phoenix’s suit is better than Ledger’s, but Ledger takes the cake, as scars and makeup look feels better than Phoneix’s clown makeup.
Comics may be a soundless medium, but even on the page, Joker’s laugh is distinct.
Phoneix: Put his spin on The Joker’s laugh. It’s more like an open-mouthed, full-body laugh. It starts with a low tone but progressively becomes more high-pitched, which is a little unnerving. When he is uncomfortable, though, it’s high-pitched right from the get-go.
Ledger: Before Phoenix, Ledger put his stamp on the Jokers laugh. What’s intriguing about his take on it, is him being so self-aware of his laugh. He twists the laughter changing it with the situation. Sometimes it’s low and ominous other times its a high-pitched rasp.
Round Winner: By giving the laugh a psychological foundation and increasing the creepiness, Phoniex wins this round.
Phoenix: Joaquin’s joker is more of a token and force of nature than an elaborate schemer. For those looking to see a criminal mastermind that is closer to comics, Phoenix is not your clown.
Ledger: Though being far deviated from comics, Ledger’s sense for theatrics and the mastermind kidnapping of Dent and Rachel is something that would have the comic counterpart proud and probably even surpass them when it comes to intimidating his foes and improvising a situation.
Round Winner: Heath Ledger easily takes this as Phoenix was on more of a personal criminal journey whereas Ledger was spotting for mass terrorism.
4. Psychology, Incitation, and Acting
Phoenix: A serious wannabe comedian with serious mental health issues, Phoenix had more than just one bad day. Dialing the crazy up to 11, Phoenix delivers a remarkable performance, making the character no matter how sick he is, a little more fleshed out.
Ledger: Like his comic book counterpart is disinterested in wealth and or material goods. He is an agent of chaos. To him, the order is a construct, and he wants to prove the world is every bit as crazy and unpredictable as he is. Ledger sees himself as a hero, an emissary for a harsh nihilistic truth in a society obsessed with promoting order. He took Joker to unprecedented cinematic heights making his psychology that’s needed to be dissected and analyzed.
Round Winner: Phoenix’s story was dedicated to his character study, yet Ledger did a fantastic job modulating his voice, laughter, and psyche.
Overall Winner: Heath Ledger’s Joker is one for history. Almost no one in the industry has ever breathed so much life into a character and himself the icon for it to be compared to. Whenever we say Joker, Ledger’s joker is always the first one that crops up in mind.