Weekend Viewing: Mark Hamill's Joker

Since this is Bat-Weekend, here’s a bit of perhaps the best Joker adaptation ever, the animated version voiced by Mark Hamill (who voiced the character as the perfect combination of crazy, scary and funny), as written by Paul Dini (famous for episodes that were serious and darkly funny at the same time). Within the limits of what he could do on kids’ TV — obviously he wasn’t allowed to actually kill anybody, at least not onscreen — this Joker was pretty scary, but also an interesting character, often done in by his vanity and his obsession with getting Batman’s attention.

An excerpt from Dini’s first Joker episode, and the one that introduced his psychotic henchgirlfriend Harley Quinn, probably the first TV show to really get what the Joker does best: terrorize innocent people in bizarre ways. In this case, he pulls over some poor slob on the road and forces him to perform one unspecified favour for him if he wants his family to survive.


And the next clip is Joker and Batman’s final battle, a flashback sequence from the direct-to-DVD movie “Return of the Joker,” written by Dini as a spinoff from the animated series Batman Beyond (about an elderly Bruce Wayne training a new Batman). This scene was intense enough that Warner Brothers initially released it with all the violent stuff censored and re-animated; the uncut version was released later due to justified fan outrage. The designs and characters are taken from the last version of Batman: the Animated Series, where Dick Grayson was replaced as Robin by the younger Tim Drake and Batgirl (Tara Strong) became Batman’s main sidekick. But fortunately they went back to a better design for the Joker (previously they’d re-designed him without any lips, making him look like a different character).


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