Up until this past summer’s release of the DCEU entry Suicide Squad, only three men had gotten the honor of bringing iconic Batman villain The Joker to live-action life on film. The first was of course Cesar Romero, who portrayed the Clown Prince of Crime in the campy yet well-remembered 1960s Batman TV series starring Adam West. In 1989, Oscar-winner and Hollywood legend Jack Nicholson assumed the Joker role for Tim Burton’s take on Batman. Then, in 2008, the late Heath Ledger succeeded in arguably outpacing both of his respected predecessors in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Needless to say Squad’s Jared Leto had some big shoes to fill.
In the animated realm though, many more actors have received the opportunity to provide The Joker’s voice over the years, in various cartoons, features, and video games. Of that lot, one name clearly reigns above the rest, that being Mark Hamill. In addition to being a household name for his work as Luke Skywalker, Hamill began voicing Mr. J in the beloved Batman: The Animated Series in the early 1990s. So well did Hamill take to the part that he’s been reprising the role in various mediums on and off ever since. In that sense, it’s fair to say that Hamill’s vocal rendition of Joker is just as cherished by fans as any of the character’s live-action versions.
Naturally, when one is that closely associated with a role, one tends to get asked for their opinion about the actors who later assume it. For example, Kevin Conroy – usually the Batman to Hamill’s Joker – has already previously weighed in on Ben Affleck’s performance as the Caped Crusader in Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman. In a recent interview with Polygon, Hamill was asked for his thoughts on Leto’s radical reinvention of The Joker in Suicide Squad, and responded with nothing but glowing praise.
Hamill also clarified that he has never seen a live-action take on The Joker that he would call terrible, and stressed the importance of tailoring one’s performance to the needs of a particular script:
“Everyone brings a different spin to the character and you have to look at each script separately. I don’t think there’s a definitive version of the Joker and I don’t think there can be. It’s like Hamlet, really. It’ll be constantly redefined.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Hamill backed off from offering an opinion on the three DCEU films as a whole, although he cautioned fans to not expect anything major on that front to change until Snyder has less of a say in the process:
“If you don’t approve of Zack Snyder’s vision then you’re kind of stuck because he’s in the driver’s seat.”
Thankfully for those who indeed don’t approve of Snyder’s direction for the DCEU, Hamill’s animated Joker adventures remain unaffected by the often divisive filmmaker’s influence. For now anyway.
The Suicide Squad Extended Cut runs 134 minutes and is Rated PG-13. Now available for digital purchase with a Blu-ray and DVD release set for December 13th.