The Joker is not new to being part of the chaos, and there’s been a war on the internet where fans of the clown prince of crime are rambling and fighting about who was the better Joker among the two great Oscar winners, Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger. The debate regarding batman’s greatest foe needs to be settled . Here is my honest opinion about this.
For context, Late Heath Ledger put on the joker make-up more than a decade ago in critically acclaimed Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), and he played the nemesis of Christian Bale’s Batman. On the other hand, Joaquin Phoenix played the Joker in Todd Phillips’ Joker (2019), which was an origin movie for the character, Batman is a kid in this timeline.
Both of these movies were massive box office successes and crossed a billion-dollar mark; both of the portrayals were also highly acclaimed and were supported by the academy as they are both Oscar winners. Here is who we think was the better performer.
THE ORIGINS OF THE TWO VERSIONS.
Like all things, we need to start for the origin. This is one area where the two versions differ most. Where does the Joker arrive from?
Talking from the perspective of the comics, the Joker is someone who has no name, no identity. Heath’s Joker in The Dark Knight trumped this part.
You may remember, throughout the movie, he asks, “You want to know how I got these scars?” and the answer he provides is different from the last, every single time, that makes his identity ambiguous. Another instance of this version being more comic accurate in this area is when Gordon arrests the Joker, and they check his clothes and belongings, it was disclosed that his clothes have no tags and had nothing inside them that tells about his past.
On the other hand, we know almost everything about Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker; he has been a lifetime Gotham resident, adopted by his mother, is mentally ill and has been in Arkham. The society abandons him, and he turns over the edge to become Joker.
Surely, he is mentally ill, and there is a possibility that the actual story may be different, but come on, that’s a reach. We have to give this bit to Heath Ledger.
Joker has one of the most ambiguous and freaky personalities in the DC comics. Joker is a lot of other things, but a compassionate man isn’t one of them. Heath Ledger’s Joker was an agent of chaos. As Alfred told Batman, he just wanted to see the world burn.
He was seen betraying his crime-partners throughout the movie; for instance, in the bank robbery scene, he finessed his fellow robbers and his mob friends too later in the film.
He just wanted to destroy everyone just for the fun of it. He was a smart guy as well, he plotted throughout the film and kept the greatest detective in the world The Batman on his bat-toes.
While, One the other hand, Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker was a compassionate guy. Until the revelation that his mother was the reason for his trauma, he actually cared about her and wanted her to be well. He just wanted to fit in and didn’t want to hurt anyone until anyone hurt him first. He surely killed people who did not hurt him but not all the time like Heath’s Joker.
For Joaquin, his goal was to make people care about each other and respect each other, including him. This is something The Joker would never think of doing. Resultantly, we believe, Heath was a better bearer of this personality trait, the Joker is meant to have.
The motivation of these two people, for becoming what they are, is totally departed. Heath Ledger’s Joker, like said before, is pretty political, he thinks that civilization is a massive façade, and people, in general, are just sinners. You can identify his motivation from events like Rigging two boats with explosives and providing them both with a detonator for other boat and destroying batman’s legacy.
For Arthur, he is not political at all. The revolution that he created was not because he wanted to bring a change. He killed the three Wayne Finance guys just out of rage, and the fact he became the face of this revolution didn’t mean much to him.
However, he may enjoy the fact that he was becoming part of something important. He just wants to be respected and treated well, and now he’s got a mob of loving fans.
Heath’s Joker had a motivation that matches with what the motivation of the original Joker would be like.
PORTRAYAL AND PERFORMANCE
Both of these actors really gave their all for this iconic role and were critically acclaimed for their performances as they are both Oscar winner for this role. Both of these Oscar winners were really born to play the Joker. Joaquin Phoenix is infamous for going over the edge in psychological and physical terms. He reportedly studied and met actual patients of mental illness, and lost around 50 pounds to play this role.
Heath ledger also locked him in a hotel for around a month, and the psychological impact of this is rumored to be the reason for his early death. We are not going to rate their performances in this way as we are nowhere close to a level where we can call one oscar winner better than the other. Both are straight-up legends for their performances as Joker. Not everyone can do it (Looking at you, Jared Leto).
Regardless of how watchable and mesmerizing Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is, we will have to give it to Heath Ledger for his comic accurate portrayal. His performance is unforgettable for a lot of reasons, but mostly because he captured the true essence of Mr. J. Fleck, with his remarkable expressions and strong appeal, reveals the lower side of the society we live in, and that gives us a lot to think about.
Again this is just our opinion; we do not expect everyone to have the same conclusion. We have nothing but loads of respect for Joaquin Phoenix; he surely is one of the best actors in the game right now. But, this battle is in favor of the late Heath Ledger.
What are your thoughts about this? Do you agree with us? Be sure to let us know in the comments section down below.