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With the release of Batman: The Animated Series, a turning-point began in the career of Mark Hamill, the actor made famous for his portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy. Forced into a stagnant position due to typecasting, Hamill had to face
the problem that many actors before him who have been genre typecast:
breaking it. Unlike many of those before him, Hamill found a very novel
way to do just that, by forging a strong career in voice acting. While
he has been a featured talent in hundreds of shows, movies, and video
games in this regard, there was one role that cemented this change in
his career and it created a fan following that has endured for almost
twenty years: his role as the Joker. His unique balance of humor and
psycho, his manically threatening voice, and most especially his iconic
laughter really changed things for the character and influenced
depictions of him for years to come. This has been reflected in
Hamill’s own history with the character, which spans appearances of the
Joker in Batman: the Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, both incarnations of Justice League, and the video game smash hit Batman: Arkham Asylum.
That’s not even including all the guest appearances or cameos as the
character in various shows and films. This role has been a part of
Mark’s life as much as it has been a part of ours.
Recently however, Mark Hamill announced that after he reprises the role for Batman: Arkham Asylum 2, he plans to retire from that part and never play the Joker again. It
will end an era of super-villainy spanning two decades and will pass on
another piece of nostalgia from our childhood to the pages of history
and memory. In celebration and in tribute of Hamill’s outstanding
contributions and appearances as the character, I have compiled a list
of what I consider his top ten moments as the Joker. These are scenes,
quips, and even episodes that not only redefined the character but
displayed the best that Hamill had to offer in vocal talent and
intensity. So without further adieu, here we go.
10. Pleading for Batman’s Help (Joker’s Favor from BTAS)
While this episode is memorable for fans of the series as the first appearance of Harley Quinn, it’s on the list mainly because of its
closing scene, in which Joker comes face-to-face with a revenge-seeking
man who the Joker had toyed with one too many times. This man’s name
was Charles Michael Collins and after impulsively cursing out the
driver next to him, who happened to be the Joker, Collins found himself
subjected to two years of surveillance and intimidation under the thumb
of the Joker, who wanted “a favor” from him. Finally calling him for
it, the Joker has Collins play an integral part in a plan to kill
Commissioner Gordan, which almost results in the deaths of close to a
hundred cops, city officials, and Mayor Hill. However, Batman saves the
day (thanks to a warning from Collins) and the Joker, fleeing from the
scenes, runs into a crazed Collins with a Joker bomb in his hand. It’s
at this point where the Clown Prince of Crime, known for being
merciless and insane, actually begs for his life through screams asking
for Batman’s help. When Batman finally arrives, the Joker gives the
biggest grin he ever gave, almost like a kid getting a lifetime supply
of candy at his footsteps.
This comic moment may decrease Joker’s threat and intimidation factor as a villain but it speaks volumes of the relationship that
Joker perceives with Batman, and the addictive need he has for him in
his life. Without Batman, his life and credibility as a villain is
meaningless, to the point where a wimp like Charlie Collins can nearly
kill him. It is because of the Caped Crusader that the Joker has
purpose and the reputation associated with him. For that, and for the
glorious smile itself that Joker gives Batman when he sees him, this
deserves the Number 10 slot.
9. Nearly Defeating Superman (World’s Finest from STAS)
Where as the Joker can never really seem to bring Batman to his knees, he did however excel at this when Superman was involved, and on
his very first attempt. In the three-part episode World’s Finest,
the Joker was hired by Lex Luthor to kill Superman for one billion
dollars. Starting out with the kidnapping of Lois Lane (which shows
that Lois’s connection to Superman is easier to pinpoint then the broad
side of the barn), Joker lures Superman to a chemical warehouse owned
by LexCorp. Having a huge chunk of Kryptonite, the Joker becomes
dismayed when he learns that Superman has come prepared, donning his
lead suit that protects from the radiation. Entirely disappointed, the
whole scene takes a 180 turn when Joker, under the act of epiphany,
destroys the suit’s helmet with a squirt of acid from his flower and
throws the Kryptonite INTO Superman’s suit, paralyzing him in pain.
But no, it doesn’t stop there. rather than leave him there to die, the Joker adds insult to industry by dancing around his writhing body
and occasionally electrocuting him with a souped-up hand-buzzer. If not
for the sudden introduction of Batman, the Man of Steel would have worn
his last cape.So just to clarify for you, a man with billions of
dollars of resources, huge amounts of influence, and a genius level
intellect couldn’t devise a way to kill Superman, failing time and time
again. Yet on his first try, the Joker almost did it with little to no
effort. That is badass and more than worthy of the Number 9 slot.
8. Final Confrontation (Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker)
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker really went out of its way to make Joker an intimidating threat to the point where he makes
his earlier appearances look like something Caesar Romero shat out.
From nearly killing Bruce Wayne, putting Terry’s girlfriend into a
temporary coma, and killing thousands of people with a satellite
weapons system, the Joker was established as someone you did not want
to piss off. With the added mystery concerning his return, the familiar
foe was fashioned into a threat that the younger Batman, Terry
McGinnis, had never faced before and one that threatened to destroy him
and everything he held dear.
The greatest moment for this “revived” Joker came when he fought Terry in a final confrontation and revealed that upon taking over Tim
Drake (the second Robin), he had gained all of the physical
conditioning and training that he had had, and as such, knew every
trick the original Batman and Robin knew at their peak. This culminates
in a fistfight with Terry where he easily dominates him until Terry
starts attacking him indirectly, playing at his psyche and taunting him
from this shadows. Joker’s response, throwing a table at Terry,
unmasking, and nearly strangling him to death while laughing at the top
of his lung. Granted, Terry won, but look at it from this perspective:
how often have we even seen Joker beat Batman physically, and on an
even playing field? Never. And that’s why it is at Number Eight.
7. Disposing of Arthur Reeves (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm)
While mainly an exploration of Batman’s past and his only real romance, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm has the added bonus of bringing in the Joker as a secondary antagonist
who proceeds to steal the show wherever he appears. The epitome of this
is the scene in which he visits Councilman Reeves, a politician with
mob connections who currently dates Bruce Wayne’s old love interest,
Andrea Beaumont. Investigating the accusations of Batman as a murderer,
the Joker is led to Reeves and subsequently reveals his role as the
cause of Carl Beaumont’s death, who was Andrea’s father and whose
demise caused her to play the role of the vengeful Phantasm. Upon
hearing this as well as learning Reeves’ connection to Andrea, the
Joker comments on the irony then proceeds to throw Reeves onto his
desk. Beginning an intimidating laugh, the Joker stabs Reeves in the
stomach (presumably with his toxin) while the laughing intensifies.
This results in Reeves going permanently insane and his political
career ending, along with his role in the story.
Granted, this is a short scene but it is one that is memorable to fans of the movie because it really shows how scary the Joker can be.
He doesn’t have to have a gun, henchmen, or really anything to scare
you. Just showing up with that huge grin on his face scares the
bejeezus out of Reeves as well as the audience. Add to that the fact
that the stabbing scene is filmed with an emphasis on the Joker’s
laughing mouth giving his famous sinister giggle, and you have a moment
worthy of the Number 7 slot.
6. The Joker’s Story (Almost Got ‘Im from BTAS)
In one of the most acclaimed and well-known episode of the original series, Almost Got ‘Im, we get to see the villains on their day off playing poker, reminiscing
about the closest they ever got to permanently snuffing the Caped
Crusader. Each of them gives their story, until the Joker chimes in and
claims that there is more than one way to “get” someone. So, the Clown
Prince of Crime delivers his, via narration and miniature television
that he seemingly pulls out of his ass. Through this unique medium, we
learn that just the night before, the Joker had hijacked a talk show
reminiscent of the Tonight Show (complete with Johnny Carson
references) and strapped Batman to an electric chair activated by
laughter. Having pumped the audience full of laughing gas, Joker has
Harley Quinn hilariously read off numbers in the phone book, inciting
riotous bouts of giggles that nearly electrocute Batman to death. While
this is a very novel and entertaining idea, the real fun comes when
Catwoman saves Batman and ruins the Joker’s plan, only to find herself
kidnapped and attached to a cat food dicer. This is where Joker ends
the story with the chilling affirmation that he will send Batman a huge
shipment of “kitty litter” in the morning.
This moment pays testament to the frightening nature of the Joker, as his story actually has the other hardened supervillains look at him
with other terror. More so than the story itself is the unsettling
narration of the Joker, which possesses only calm glee at destroying
someone close to Batman and sending him the mangled remains. It’s
scary, threatening, and entirely badass, which cements this moment at
its Number 6 spot.
5. Reaction to Harley’s capture of Batman (Mad Love from TNBA)
Another episode with a lot of great moments is the famed Mad Love, which explores the origins of Harley Quinn and delves into her strange
relationship with the Joker. The pinnacle of the episode comes at the
end, when Harley has captured Batman and called the Joker to let him
know about it. Upon his arrival, Harley’s “Puddin’” shows his gratitude
by proceeding to physically assault her for having dared to try and
take the kill from him. This moment reaches a climax when the Joker
throws her out of a three story window, where she falls to her near
death and lies unconscious with her battered and broken body strewn in
the trash below. This is followed by a glorious fight sequence on top
of a train, great taunting from Batman, and the apparent “death” of the
While those scenes are great on their own, the moment worthy of mention is Joker’s abuse of Harley after seeing that she had trumped him. This
scene is a tribute to Joker’s abusive relationship with Harley,
constantly manipulating her with bipolar-esque bouts of feigned
affection and enraged assault. Also, it pays respect to one trait
heavily characterized by Mark Hamill’s acting: Joker’s arrogance, which
allows for no one else to kill the Batman but him. Mostly though, the
scene is highly memorable and highly twisted, so for that, it gets the
Number 5 slot.
4. Batman’s Funeral (The Man Who Killed Batman from BTAS)
With the loss of Batman’s life at the hand of a pathetic and bumbling crook known as “Sid the Squid,” Sid becomes known to all as
“The Man Who Killed Batman,” which is the name of the now-famous
episode from the original Batman series. The greatest moment
in this episode comes when the Joker steps in, only to find that the
Batman really is dead. Overcome with sadness, the Joker actually gives
back all of the jewels he had stolen from his most recent heist,
claiming that “without Batman, crime has no punchline.” In a hilarious
continuation, the Joker gives a funeral for Batman and even provides
the eulogy, thanking the Batman for making him “the happy soul he was
today.” Still riddled with grief, he turns his rage on Sidney, locks
him up inside of Batman’s coffin, then proceeds to throw him into a vat
of acid so that he could “smile again.” After wards he caps the whole
situation by saying “well that was fun. Who’s for Chinese?”
First off, this scene is possibly one of the funniest scenes in the entire series, as the gloriously over-the-top funeral, Joker’s eulogy,
and Harley’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” on a kazoo, lightens the
whole idea of Batman dying and looks at it from a much more comical
perspective. More importantly though, this whole scene introduces an
idea that is paramount to the character of the Joker: his need for
Batman. Batman is his constant pursuer and is the source of Joker’s
entertainment, meaning that the Joker cannot exist in a world without
Batman (as plainly seen in The Dark Knight Returns). This
shows an unwillingness for Joker to ever kill Batman and hints at a
fascination on the Joker’s part that borders on romantic obsession.
This unique character perspective wrapped in a packaging of great
comedy frame this one at the Number 4 slot.
3. The Joker’s Final Laugh (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm)
I won’t go into too much detail on this one, since it is the shortest on the list. This moment on its own is only twenty seconds
long, and yet it is Number 3 on the list. Why you ask? Well the answer
is simple: it is Mark Hamill’s best laugh as the Joker ever.
Basic Setup: Batman has defeated the Joker, the Phantasm has finally arrived to enact revenge on him, and right before his eyes his entire
complex begins to explode with no time for him to get away. Basically,
he is screwed. So what is his reaction: he laughs. In the face of death
from both vengeance and his own poorly resulted plans, the Joker laughs
maniacally, falling backwards and continuing the laugh while he
disappears into a veil of smoke, never to be seen again (or so we
think). This moment is one of the most powerful ones in this film for
me because it shows the ideal thing that I believe the Joker would do
in the face of his utter demise, which is laugh. To him, death itself
is a comedy and the struggle that people put up against its
inevitability is a tragedy that he wishes to supplant. In his
perspective, dying itself is quite ironic and his own death….well
that’s simply just a very good joke.
Still don’t believe my Number 3 pick? Watch the video of it and you’ll see what I mean:
2. The Joker’s Final Joke (Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker)
Given only ten minutes of flashback screen time to explain how the Joker finally met his end, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker certainly optimized their time with the Clown Prince of Crime as they
made him responsible for a number of ghastly things that were
comparable in graphic nature to the comic book source material. Here is
a quick shortlist of his transgressions in those ten minutes:
1. Kidnap Tim Drake
2. Torture Tim Drake for three weeks using chemical serums and electric shocks.
3. Breaking the boy’s mind until he discovered the true identity of Batman.
4. Traumatizing the boy mentally and deforming into a sinister, smaller version of himself.
5. Completely mocking and ridiculing the tragedy that started Batman’s career.
6. Defeating Batman and nearly having him killed by his own partner, Tim Drake.
That is extremely messed up, and destroys any doubts to Joker’s honored place as Batman’s greatest enemy. Add to that Robin killing the
Joker with a pistol shot, Joker’s last words of “that’s not funny,” and
the years of mental scarring that the Clown Prince of Crime left behind
and you have the definitive Number 2 Joker moment.
1. Big Ol’ Bats is Falling Down (Wild Cards from Justice League)
Now you’re probably wondering why the hell I don’t have his Final Joker from Batman Beyond as the Number One. After all, he arguably did the most damaging thing
that anyone could have done to the Caped Crusader: pervert one of the
closest things to his heart into a ghastly image of himself. Its dark,
demented, and completely psychotic, and worthy of the Number One slot.
However, the end of Mark Hamill’s final animated portrayal of the Joker
in Justice League takes the cake for me, and here are the reasons why.
On the one hand, this is the closest the Joker has ever gotten to not only defeating Batman, but achieving the one
goal he has always pined for: bringing everyone down to his level of
insanity. By the end of this episode, the Joker has 40 million people
suffering from hallucinogenic nightmares that make the Scarecrow look
like the Care Bears, paralyzes the Justice League to the point of near
insanity, and almost succeeds in killing Batman with his bare hands
while pushing him to his mental limit.
Speaking of killing Batman, the absurdly brutal nature of Joker’s assault on Batman was so graphic, I was amazed
it was shown on a childrens' show. It was completely unexpected and
entirely badass how the Joker not only proceeds to fight Batman while
he is under severe mental stress, but does so in a style similar to A Clockwork Orange,
kicking him to near death while singing his own version of “London
Bridge Is Falling Down.” Because of this, the sequence borders on
iconic and serves as a classic time where the beloved Batman was on the
brink of utter defeat.
The final great thing about it too is how the Joker is defeated, which involves the powerful psychic, Ace, driving
him into a mental coma. Considering that the Joker, who is an insane
and terrible monster himself, cried in fear and agony with the
(off-screen) images she tortured his mind with and eventually broke
him, that must have been one hell of a nightmare. That being said, it
is a testament to Joker’s extreme level of evil and the amount of
punishment it would take to bring one such as him down.
All in all, this final moment proves that the best is saved for last, which is why it takes the crown at Number One.
Well guys, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed the list and I am curious to hear your guys’ opinions. But until then, stay gold.