Originally Posted by Heretic
On a crazed homicidal level...did Nicholsons Jker display ANY hint of being the kind of guy who would kill and torture people the way he does in the comics? Aside from a hygiene product that kills you with a smile...any ruthless crowbar beatings? And torturing of a girl while her dad is helpless to stop it? So, either he aced that, or he was a second rate homicidal maniac.
The Joker you described was a very contemporary version, specifically from the 80's stories Death in the Family
and The Killing Joke
And yes, while I'm sure you know that Burton cites The Killing Joke
as a reference (One scene I will admit that seemed to be heavily inspired by it was the "Mirror!" scene, in reference to Joker's first sight of his reflection in the water in TKJ), for the most part Nicholson's Joker is heavily influenced by the 60s, 70s, and particularly his earliest appearances in the 40s.
Nicholson's Joker displayed a sense of humor indicative of Denny O'Neill's Joker, while also retaining the sillier gag antics popularized in the 50s and 60s. But most obviously, his "announcements" (Smilex commercial, parade invitation) were clearly inspired by the radio annoucements from his first appearance (this trait of announcing his crimes is one he's retained forever since). Another clear influence from this first appearance is he and Batman's final mano-a-mano confrontation in the bell-tower (though he was clearly not as physically matched in the movie as he appeared to be in the comic; he tried though!). Moreover, this early depiction of the Joker makes sense in the context of Batman
, the entire film was grounded in Batman's earliest adventuries, evident in his use of guns and lethal force.
So, the Nicholson's Joker may not suit your tastes (Heath Ledger's upcoming performance might do the trick, I know I'll probably dig it too), but it was certainly not unfounded in precedent.