Mark Hamill has been the definitive voice for the Joker for nearly two decades, and it’s probably his most famous role, not counting Kenny Dantley in the significant film milestone Corvette Summer. But according to a recent interview the New Hope gave at Cannes, he’s hanging up his poison flower after the upcoming Batman: Arkham Asylum 2.
"This will be my last, there's no question about that. But it's the last hurrah," he said about plans for the anticipated title. This led to rampant speculation that with this statement and how pathetic Mr. J looked in the teaser trailer that Puddin’ may be headed for a dirt nap, but if 25 years of comics reading have taught me anything, it’s that the Joker can’t be killed. Period. He can be in a situation that would kill normal people and then there will be no body found, but give him six months and he’ll pop up again, good as new. Only in possible futures does he die, and that usually causes a major turning point in not just the Bat’s life, but DC in general. (See the comics Dark Knight Returns and Kingdom Come for further proof.)
But whether this is the end for the Joker or not, it’s certainly worth noting what a crossroads this is for the Batman franchise in general. Ever since I and just about everyone I know were kids, Mark Hamill has been the Joker and was largely considered the best until Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight became the first real challenger to his psychotic/whimsical portrayal. But before I even played the first AA, I felt that maybe it was time to give Mark a break and let someone else have a chance. Of course, when I did play it and heard him bring an even more sinister spin to his classic depiction I changed my mind. Still, now that his days are numbered we hope that his last time on the mic is worthy of his legacy and we feel bad for whoever has to follow that clown. In closing, here’s some of my favorite of Mark Hamill’s performances over the last 18 years:
Above: Joker’s intro in the classic Laughing Fish episode
Above: Probably the best Bats/Joker fight ever animated is featured in the film Mask of the Phantasm
Above: This scene from the Batman Beyond movie is about as sinister as the Joker ever got in the cartoon
Above: SPOILERS! This is Mark’s best scene from the finale to the first AA
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