Join Date: Mar 2013
Re: am I the only one who DIDN'T think Nicholson nailed joker??
Long time lurker, finally joined up. This thread has always caught my eye (I like seeing some of the posts in here, great stuff) so I thought it would be appropriate to make my first post here.
I don't see how anyone could hate/dislike the Nicholson Joker, or the Ledger Joker for that matter. I find it hard to believe that anyone that's a Batman fan would have any faults with either of them. The two characters are arguably the best villains out of the 7 films (atleast for me), they're one of the main reasons Batman and The Dark Knight are so special. I personally think they both nailed the Joker in their own ways. How come people always want to compare things in order to put one down? The Pfeiffer/Hathaway thread in the TDKR section comes to mind. Can't they just both be good? Why does there always have to be a victor? Why does it have to be "choose one", when both are available to us?
I haven't read every comic book, but I think I've read enough to know what makes the Joker, Joker. He's literally one of my favorite characters, right up there with Batman himself. I don't think it's right to say that Nicholson or Ledger didn't "get it right" just because they're not every comic interpretation rolled into one. Even those interpretations vary from comic to comic. Nothing is set in stone, I have yet to see a definitive version out of all the stories out there.
Personally, I never liked the whole, "Jack is just playing Jack in Batman '89" argument. Maybe Jack Napier, but once the Joker steps out of that elevator in that iconic scene where he reveals himself to Grissom, he ceases to be Jack being Jack, to the Joker. Heck even before that at the post-surgery scene with the mob doctor. That's cheesy and "not Joker", that whole sequence? Really? I don't think nostalgia has anything to do with it, but that vibe from that scene still gives me chills. It's just a great moment when you see all those bloody tools and he sees himself in the mirror for the first time. It's brilliant and a great first look. The reveal at Grissom's is even better. Jack is dead, enter the Joker.
I never understood the negative comments about him going after Vicki either. Did people really think that he wanted her as a girlfriend or something? That he was in infatuated with her? I didn't see that. The Joker is easily sidetracked, you even see it in The Dark Knight where that versions of the Joker's plans and ideas are all over the place (a distracted "dog chasing cars"). Vicki was never the Joker's end game, he didn't want to court her. I mean, didn't he try to deform her with acid at the museum and kill her at the Cathedral? I always figured that after he saw that picture of her after Bob's reconnaissance outside the courthouse that he became obsessed with disfiguring her because of what she represented and how beautiful she was, just like Alica (who "threw herself out of a window". The Joker was demented and psychotic. There's also the fact that he seemed to think she had information about the Batman (along with Knox). He asks her this at the Museum. I love the way she quickly answers "I don't know anything about Batman" and it's like he just snaps and starts going after her like a shark. Those eyes, the way he's coming over to her like a Terminator when he misses with the acid. It's creepy stuff.
I dunno, the Vicki thing seems like a nitpick to me. I mean yeah, their encounter is there to move things along like people have stated, but she's the damsel in distress. Ledger Joker does the same thing with Rachel "you are beautiful", but I don't think he wanted to "get with" Rachel at Dent's party, quite the contrary. They're the hero's girl, they're put in harms way. That's how the stories go.
A lot of fans really rip the Nicholson Joker now a days and I'm not sure why. What's so bad about him? I see complaints about the chelsea grin, really? I thought that was brilliant for an explanation for the Joker's perma smile. Just as good as in TDK with the scars. He's not always smiling, there's emotion in there. At the mob meeting, when Anton and the other mob bosses provoke him ("what's with that stupid grin") he looks down right sinister. Or even at the museum when Vicki says "you must be joking", I don't see the Joker "smiling" there, even with his deformity. There's an expression there, and the expression isn't happy, happy. He looks down right serious and threatening. Ironically, he looks the most intimidating WITH the flesh tones in my opinion. I'll always prefer the white, red and green classic look, but I gotta admit, I really dig when the Joker is in "disguise". I thought the flesh tone "civilian" look was brilliant. Joker DID that in the comics. Hell, that's one of my favorite parts in TDK. I love the honor guard sequence. I remember when that pic was first revealed with Ledger in the cop get up without make up and the scars, I was so excited. Same deal with the Nicholson Joker in his mob look.
Now to the Ledger Joker, I don't see why people still seem to have hang ups over the painted face or say that he's not funny or "Joker" enough when it comes to the clown aspects. He's not just some sick, homicidal clown and he has the white face, red lips, green hair and the purple suit. What more do people want? I don't know about other folks, but when he was on screen, I literally had a smile from ear to ear. From the magic tricks to his nurse disguise, I thought he was great. He didn't need the gags (which are great in other interpretations) to impress you, he was naturally charismatic, just like the Nicholson Joker. Some things that you shouldn't agree with, you just do. He's just an electrifying character. I love how in the beginning of the film, you're not sure what his end game is. He wants to mess with the mob, he wants to kill Batman. Then later on, everything is turned on it's head like he's been enlightened and now he wants to destroy the mob, give the city a better class of criminal (the rise of the freaks which, unfortunately TDKR completely does away with, along with the Joker) and duke it out with Batman forever, never killing him. He's just so great and interacts with every character, even the city.
I love them both equally, not just for their differences but their similarities. Everyone focuses on how they are different, how one is better than the other and even how they "aren't accurate to the source", but how about all the things that they got right and the similarities they share? Both Joker's rise to the top of the food chain and end up ruling Gotham (for a short time) after decimating the mob. Those mob meetings are eerily similar. They both get annoyed/upset when they're called "freaks" or "crazy", everyone at the table is shocked that they're there and can't take their eyes off them, especially after Nicholson Joker fries Anton or when Ledger Joker pulls out the grenade rig.
The tv broadcasts, boy oh boy. That Joker commercial with the smylex is brilliant, "NEW AND IMPROVED JOKER PRODUCTS". It's just lolz. He's developed this product that not only kills innocent gothamites, but gives them a disgusting, hideous grin and he's promoting it with cardboard cut outs of models and a seagul. If that isn't Joker, I don't know what is. The song, the "OH, NO", the shopping card jig. It's just so fantastic, he was like the first troll before the internet. I especially love Bruce Wayne's expression at the sight of it, you can tell he's uneasy.
Then of course the Joker broadcasts in TDK. JUST as GREAT in my opinion, hell, the virals revolved around it. That first one when he finally shows himself to Gotham with Brian Douglass is just fantastic and eerie. "So you think you've made Gotham a better place?", you can tell Ledger was just really into it there. The latter ones are even better where he's not even harming people, like with Mike Engle. I love how the Ledger Joker makes up little scripts and you can hear him repeating this things to Engle during the "town is mine" speech. You see him later on READING from the paper scripts during his speech to the ferry boats before the Prewitt seige. It's just pure Joker.
There's another similarity that ties both of them together. What is the only painting that the Nicholson Joker doesn't destroy at the Museum? Why 'Figure of Meat' of course. Guess what Nolan gave Ledger as inspiration for his role? Francis Bacon paintings, the painter of 'Figure of Meat'. One of the included paintings was none other than 'Figure of Meat'. The painting is just as twisted and dark as both of their psyches, how appropriate.
That's another thing that I don't get. What's the hangup with the Joker's views on art? It seems appropriate to me. "I'm the world's first fully functioning homicidal artist . . . and I want my face on the one dollar bill". What's wrong with destroying all those priceless painting (which, if you're an art person is pretty upsetting), it fits with the Joker's twisted view with vanity and what's considered beautfiul (after he's been scarred and disfigured by Batman). This guy gets off on death, destruction, chaos, so much so that he considers corpses of war to be brilliant (as seen in Vicki's portfolio with the corto maltese war photos). Just because he's defacing priceless works of arts doesn't mean that simply painting is what art is all about (nor is it what Joker is all about). His goal, other than to get back at Batman is one about vanity. His major end game is killing Gotham on the outside with his DDID nerve gas (which he famously dubs Smylex) so everyone is just as ugly as him while having a damn good time doing it. Not swooning Vicki.
How about the Ledger Joker? He's an "artist" in his own way with the things he does. There's an art to what he pursues and accomplishes, hell, just look at his "custom" outfit. He wears his ideals and deformities on his sleeve, just like the Nicholson Joker. He has those stories about his scars that he tells his victims, instead of smylex, he carves up his victims and paints their faces (Brian Douglass, Harvey and Dent) etc. His whole motto is "whatever doesn't kills us simply makes us stranger", he can attest to that. He gets right up in people's faces with not only his ideals, but his facial scars as well. His major end game is destroying Gotham's spirit from the inside and making everyone just as ugly as him while having a damn good time doing it.
I could go on and on, but there you have it. I think both actors nailed the character completely. Any time the two of them are on, they get my attention (and other people's as well). That's what the character does, he steals the show. He's the ultimate showman, the antithesis Batman (it doesn't matter if he killed Batman's parents or if he wasn't dropped by him into a vat of chemicals), you're supposed to hate him, but you can't help but cheer for him with his crazy (and sometimes not so crazy) antics. He's the most quotable and easily the best written character of all the Batman films. He's the Joker, Batman's greatest villain, and perhaps the best comic book villain and villain in general. He has been played by two great actors (that are rooted from their comic origin, but also transcend it) and will hopefully see a glorious return in a future cinematic interpretation.
Not sure what more people could ask for other than more when it comes to either Nicholson or Ledger for the Joker. It upset everyone when the Joker was killed off in '89, that's a gripe almost everyone had with it. "Damn, they killed off the Joker". Then, sadly, we lost Heath Ledger, whose character lived through the events of the film, but would never be heard or seen from again. It's a shame really (especially about Ledger), but having the character around in film once every 20 years makes it that much special and powerful. You want to see more, but what's given to you lives on.
Am I the only one who loved both and think Ledger and Nicholson nailed the character?
Last edited by milost; 03-05-2013 at 11:40 PM.