Best Animated Adaptations: The Joker


This marks the first in a series of slideshows ranking the animated adaptations of various Batman characters. Eligible adaptations are those from The Timmverse, The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Beware the Batman, and Batman Unlimited.  A character must appear in four out of the five franchises in order to be eligible for the rankings.

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The first character that I’ll be focusing on is Batman’s greatest foe in nearly all his various incarnations animated or otherwise, The Joker. The Joker has been in pretty much every long-running series starring Batman (and even a few that he wasn’t the star of such as Static Shock, Superman The Animated Series & Justice League Unlimited. Here is a definitive ranking of all his animated incarnations to date.

4. The Joker in Batman: The Brave and the Bold

If you love Silver Age comics, you’ll probably dig this version of The Joker.  Jeff Bennett does a decent job with the voice (it actually sounds like he just did his best impersonation of Larry Storch), and The Joker wears his signature purple and green suit.  He is portrayed in a lighter tone in this show than usual (as most of the characters are), as more of a prankster than criminally insane.  The best Joker episode we got in this series was “Joker: The Vile and the Villainous”, which was “Joker-ized” — the intro even featured Joker in Batman’s place, and the whole episode centered around the Joker.  Also, take note of the Jokermobile in this series — it’s pretty sweet.  But overall, there just wasn’t enough depth to the character for me to really appreciate this adaptation of him.

4. The Joker in Batman Unlimited

The Joker appeared in this franchise in the direct-to-video film Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem, but he also was featured in a few of the shorts that were concurrently released.  This Joker is voiced by Troy Baker, another Joker voice actor who really just sounds like he’s copying another voice actor in his portrayal of the character.  Baker did a better job choosing which voice actor to emulate than did Bennett, seemingly going for the legendary Mark Hamill (more on him soon), but it still does sound kind of unoriginal that way.  My biggest problem about the movie in general was that there was absolutely no character development, so that included with The Joker.  There were also some plot holes related to this character, like how The Joker convinced Scarecrow and a gang of other baddies to team up with him.  But, in general, I was pretty fond of this Joker.  His sudden outbursts of anger were in tune with what I like to see from him, and while some people complained about the cheesiness of the scene where Batman takes on Joker in a virtual reality, it seemed pretty Joker-ish to me, and it fit with the futuristic element of Batman Unlimited.

2. The Joker in The Batman

Kevin Michael Richardson delivered a fantastic Joker performance in The Batman.  He had to immediately follow Mark Hamill’s Joker, he did his own thing, and it was beautiful.  The Joker was the central villain in the pilot episode of the show, “The Bat in the Belfry”, where we got to see Batman’s first encounter with The Joker at Arkham Asylum of all places.  The Joker’s design was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before either, with crazy green hair and red eyes.  In his initial appearance, he was wearing his asylum straitjacket, but he donned his classic purple suit in his following appearances.  Another unique thing about this rendition of The Joker is he seemed more adept at hand-to-hand combat than other incarnations of the character.  It was pretty great to see him really go at it with Batman on several occasions.  Also, one of my favorite Joker stories ever is him mutating Detective Ethan Bennett into Clayface, which serves as the two-part Season One finale.

1. The Joker in The Timmverse

You probably saw it coming.  Mark Hamill’s Joker is a classic masterpiece and the one all Jokers have been compared to since.  Hamill began voicing the Joker in the first show of the Timmverse, Batman: The Animated Series, in 1992, and then he appeared in other Timmverse shows The New Batman Adventures, Superman: The Animated Series, Static Shock, and Justice League.  His appearance changed slightly throughout some of the different series in the universe, but he stayed pretty consistent in general.  Harley Quinn makes her first appearance in any media in the episode “Joker’s Favor”, and of course, she has become synonymous with The Joker as she has been adapted into comics and other Batman media.  The Timmverse version of The Joker’s story comes to an epic conclusion in the direct-to-video movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, which tells another one of my favorite Joker stories of all-time.

Be sure to keep it locked to the Caped Crusades for more character adaptation rankings that are on the way!

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