A number of performers have brought the iconic Batman villain The Joker to life in various projects, but when it comes to who was the most impressive, filmmaker Kevin Smith handed it to Heath Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight. It's hard to argue with Smith, given that Ledger won an Academy Award for his performance, yet with talent like Mark Hamill and Joaquin Phoenix embracing the character, Smith had his work cut out for him when it came to ranking who gave the best performance. You can check out Smith's full breakdown of Joker performances in the video above.
"The number one Joker on this list is Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, that took a long time to get to, but did you see how much serious consideration went into it?" Smith revealed to IGN. "I think that's the most serious that anyone's ever done this exercise. I'm gonna get crucified for this on the internet, I'm gonna tell ya. The moment I said that [they'll say], 'You sold out on Luke Skywalker. You piece of Sith.'"
Smith placed Zach Galifianakis from The LEGO Batman movie in last place, largely due to the fact that the actor didn't have to physically transform for the role. Despite this, it was a testament to Mark Hamill's performance of the Clown Prince of Crime in Batman: The Animated Series that Smith ranked him ahead of Jared Leto, Cesar Romero, and Jack Nicholson.
"Same reason that I said Zach Galifianakis, that he was a voice, he didn't have to do the physical performance, he didn't have to put on the makeup, run around, get punched in the face," Smith revealed of ranking Hamill number two. "I'm not saying voice acting is not the same as real acting, but he didn't have to sit in no makeup chair for 10 hours a day getting ready for the role."
Joaquin Phoenix has been earning tremendous praise for his performance in Joker, even if the film itself isn't universally adored. The first few entries into the DC Extended Universe were meant to all exist in the same world, though recent entries like Aquaman and Shazam!, as well as Joker, have proven how effective DC Comics films can be when they don't have to connect to a larger universe. The drawback to this approach, however, is that it's unknown when, or if, Phoenix's or any other performer's version of The Joker will appear in an upcoming film.
Joker is in theaters now.
What do you think of Smith's rankings? Let us know in the comments below!