Joker (Heath Ledger)


The Joker is the overarching antagonist of The Dark Knight Trilogy. He is the main antagonist of the 2008 superhero film The Dark Knight. He is a psychopathic anarchist and criminal mastermind who, describing himself as an agent of chaos, rises to power in the criminal underworld by thrusting Gotham City into turmoil, and draws Batman ever closer to crossing the fine line between heroism and vigilantism.

He was portrayed by the late Heath Ledger, who won a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.

Why This Incarnation of the Joker Rocks

  1. This version of the Joker is considered the most realistic version of the character ever put on screen. All of the fantasy elements from the previous versions are removed, leaving us with a ordinary man with face paint and a sadistic sense of humor, which makes him even more scary, since people like this incarnation of the Joker exist in real life.
  2. That being said, he's a crazy-prepared strategist. From the first few minutes we see him onscreen, he's able to keep his identity a secret from everyone he had hired, he robbed a mob bank with a plan in mind, he's not afraid of anything, and we see he's a serious villain to be feared and doesn't even have honor amongst the other robbers.
  3. Heath Ledger does a near pitch-perfect performance as the criminal mastermind. He completely deserved that posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. It gets even more impressive when you realize he usually plays romantic roles, and not villain roles, let alone this guy.
    1. Despite being terrifying, he captured Joker's twisted sense of humor extremely well. (i.e.: the pencil scene)
    2. During the hospital scene, he totters out of Gotham General with the hospital exploding around him. The explosion stops for several seconds, causing him to fiddle with the detonator, before the explosions suddenly continue. Heath Ledger didn't break character, or even turn around to watch the explosion even when he gets on the bus, resulting in one of the most memorable scenes in the film. Plus, Ledger did it all in one take!
  4. As usual, he's meant to embody themes of chaos, anarchy, and obsession; he expresses a desire to upset social order through crime and defines himself by his conflict with Batman.
  5. He's of the most successful versions of the Joker ever. He manages to kill the love of Batman's life, scar Harvey Dent's face and turn him into the vigilante Two-Face, and even when Batman takes him down, he still technically wins by accomplishing his goal of turning Dent, Gotham's symbol of hope, into a murderer.


  • Heath Ledger won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2008, making him the first actor (main or supporting) to win an Academy Award for playing a comic book character.
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