The Joker is one of the most iconic villains in the Batman franchise. But who was the first actor to bring the character to life on screen? Let’s take a look at the history of the Joker and how he evolved over time.
The First Appearance of the Joker
The Joker made his first appearance in Batman #1, which was released in April 1940. The comic book was created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson.
The Joker was introduced as a homicidal maniac with a twisted sense of humor. He wore a purple suit, had green hair, and a wide grin that showed off his yellow teeth.
Cesar Romero as the Joker
The first actor to play the Joker on screen was Cesar Romero. He portrayed the character in the Batman television series that aired from 1966 to 1968. Romero’s version of the Joker was campy and comedic, with exaggerated facial expressions and over-the-top antics.
Jack Nicholson as the Joker
In 1989, Tim Burton directed a new Batman film that starred Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Nicholson’s portrayal of the character was more sinister than Romero’s, but still had elements of humor. He wore a purple suit with green accents and had a permanent smile due to chemical exposure.
Heath Ledger as the Joker
One of the most memorable portrayals of the Joker came from Heath Ledger in Christopher Nolan’s 2008 film The Dark Knight. Ledger’s version of the character was dark, gritty, and completely unhinged. His makeup consisted of smeared face paint and scars that he claimed were self-inflicted.
Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker
Most recently, Joaquin Phoenix played an origin story version of the character in Todd Phillips’ 2019 film Joker. Phoenix’s portrayal was haunting and intense, showing the descent of a man into madness.
While there have been several actors to play the Joker over the years, it all started with the comic book character created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson. From Cesar Romero to Joaquin Phoenix, each actor has brought their own unique take on the character. The Joker remains one of the most fascinating and complex villains in pop culture history.