Which Joker / Toker Works Better For You - Part II

3 months ago

Like clowns & flying rodents or yin & yang, the Joker has been around for nearly as long as his archrival, having been introduced in the very first issue of Batman #1 (25 April 1940). DC artists initially intended to kill off Joker in order to make Batman appear more competent, the reason why the joker was created by "Jerry Robinson" but an editor allegedly reneged at the last minute, prompting the artists to hastily add a frame showing that the Joker had survived the issue, living to trick another day.


1951' Joker / The Man Behind The Red Hood

Eleven years after the Joker’s first appearance, Batman have been asked by "Dean Chalmers", head of "Gotham University" , to volunteer as teachers for his criminology class. Batman agrees, and while he is teaching a class on criminology, he describes a criminal called "Red Hood" whom he met a decade before, but saw vanish during an encounter at the "Ace Chemicals" plant. After some investigation, it’s revealed that the "Red Hood" was actually the Joker. He explains his origin himself:

I was a lab worker, until I decided to steal $1,000,000 and retire! So I became The Red Hood! Finally, I reached my goal – by stealing from the Monarch Playing Card Company. My hood’s oxygen tube enabled me to escape by swimming under the surface of the pool of chemical wastes.

Returning home, the criminal was horrified that the chemicals made his skin chalk white, his hair green, and his lips red. But then, partially inspired by the "Monarch Playing Card Company", he embraced this and embarked on a new life of crime.

Almost for its own sake and joy, he became the Joker! And since the introduction of "Red Hood" in 1951 by "DC Comics", he has gone through many menacing, bizarre iterations. Depending on how steeped in Batman knowledge or how old you are, your favored screen version of the "Clown Prince Of Crime" will vary.


1966' Joker 5555.pngCesar Romero / Batman TV Series

Before anyone of us ever sat down with a bucket of popcorn to enjoy Batman movies with celebrities like Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Mark Hamill, Jared Leto, Cameron Monaghan or Joaquin Phoenix playing the Joker, our favorite arch nemesis of Batman’s was played by the self-proclaimed, "Latin from Manhattan", Cesar Romero.

He is #Pot smoker, he is midnight #Toker who appeared in Batman as the Joker in 22 episodes of the Batman TV series between 1966-1968, may he rest in peace. Known for his bright green hair, stark white makeup, and wide smile, "Romero’s Joker" would become one of the show’s most memorable villains.

The "Latin from Manhattan" like so many great contributors to everything that is American, was born to immigrant parents. According to the "Los Angeles Times", his parents were of Cuban decent, and his grandfather was Jose Marti, the Cuban folk hero whom Havana’s airport is named after.

"Romero" enjoyed a long and prolific career in Hollywood and was a pioneer in actors’ demanding a percentage of profits from Hollywood studios and production companies. With his good looks and signature mustache, he played likable villains, suave riffraff, and occasionally, leading men.


Among the series’ many cultural contributions is "Romero’s Performance" as a fun, over-the-top Joker. He only appeared in a handful of episodes per season and, seemingly preoccupied with his metal hand buzzers and gag flowers, he never really divulged a full backstory. What we do know from this version of the Joker is that he was a high-school dropout, hypnotist, and "Master Of Disguise" who turned to crime.

Pretty much everything about his portrayal of the Joker on the 1966 "Batman TV Show" is great, from the way he attacks every scene with manic, scenery-chewing glee to the way he twists his painted-on grin into a disappointed scowl when he's inevitably defeated, and all the way down to the fact that Romero refused to shave his mustache for the part, instead caking on the clown makeup and leaving it completely visible in every episode.

There's a panache and even a little menace to the role that makes him one of the show's most memorable characters. He's so generic, in fact, that the Joker once starred in an episode that was originally meant to feature a new villain called the "One-Armed Bandit" , only to be hastily rewritten at the last minute, leaving the Joker with an inexplicable one-episode fascination with slot machines.

1989' Joker 5555.png Jack Nicholson / Tim Burton’s Batman

He is the "Last Real Hollywood Wild Man", so it is no surprise that he's been #High while acting. The campfire scene in "Easy Rider" was a big reason why he scored his first Oscar nomination.

While filming "Easy Rider", Nicholson had to smoke a joint while filming the campfire scene, he did not smoke one #Joint, he smoked a bunch of joints, they were all stoned the night they shot the campfire scene. He criticized "War on Drugs" in un interview with a British newspaper, he said:

If they were really serious about the economy there would be a sensible discussion about #Legalisation. I don’t tend to say this publicly, but we can see it’s a curative thing.

If you read "Part I" then you know, the Joker's origin story has gone through as many different takes, but one of the key moments is that there's some sort of change when he gets dumped into a vat of acid and comes out looking like a murder clown. In "Batman '89", there's no real change. It doesn't break the character in the way that, say, making him the guy who killed Batman's parents does!


In "Tim Burton’s Batman" , Nicholson plays "Jack Napier", a "Gotham City Mobster" responsible for mugging and killing Bruce Wayne’s parents. Years later, he gets set up by a mob boss who plans to have him killed by a crooked cop at a chemical plant.

Batman stops the accident, but Napier falls into a vat of chemicals altering his visage and driving him, well, batty. In a delightfully 1980s touch, "The Joker’s Smile" is due to a botched plastic surgery job following the accident. His performance as the Joker is pretty fantastic on almost every level. He's certainly the best part of the movie, with Nicholson's already-creepy grin accentuated by caked on makeup and some truly amazing fashion choices.

Every look he sports is spot-on, and the scene in which he knocks out everyone in an art museum and then rolls in with his crew so he can destroy some paintings while blasting a Prince song about himself on a boombox might be the most baller thing a supervillain has ever done, it really gets across the idea that he's more into this whole "Destroy Gotham City" thing for the fun of it.

Part III Coming Soon...
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Jack Nicholson all day. His crazy personality and ability to go wild on screen made me smile almost as big as the Joker. ;) Loved him as the Joker! The rest were alright, but he's my favorite!