While The Joker has appeared very few times in live action throughout his 75 year history, he has appeared in several animated incarnations of Batman. Not only that, but Joker more often than not appears in the most number of episodes in a Batman show than any other Batman villain. Because of this, young children who are not old enough to see BATMAN í89, THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) or the upcoming SUICIDE SQUAD probably have a higher chance of being introduced to The Joker through animation than live action. The Jokerís animated appearances cannot go understated for this reason.
To help celebrate Jokerís 75th anniversary, hereís a look back at his animated history and the voice actors who played him.
Batman: The Brave and The Bold (2008 Ė 2011)
After the serious Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman, Batman in animation took a turn towards the campy, joyous style of the 60s and 70s with Batman: The Brave and The Bold. The Joker was once again a relatively harmless prankster throughout this showís run, simply wanting to best Batman in crimes and be known as the greatest criminal the world had ever seen.
The Joker is heavily influenced by artist Dick Sprangís rendition of him throughout the 1940s and 50s, furthering the lighthearted nature of this interpretation. Throughout the showís run, Joker would become emperor of the universe, create a clone for a son and even teamed up with Batman to stop a criminal from usurping his title as greatest criminal. In one notable instance, the show was shown from Jokerís perspective as the protagonist against an Ďevilí and fun-hating Batman who wished to wipe out all crime. This version of Joker was voiced by Jeff Bennett.
Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
In this direct-to-DVD movie, based off the comic Under the Hood by Judd Winick (who also wrote the screenplay), The Joker had successfully killed Jason Todd, the second Robin, and was very happy about this, boasting about it to Batman as he sat in his jail cell. When another vigilante, one who doesnít care about killing criminals, calling himself the Red Hood turns up, Batman has to investigate the identity of this new criminal while reopening old wounds.
The Joker is this film was a clear psychopath, taking a page out of Heath Ledgerís book by doing some truly cruel deeds while having a blast about it. This film also delved a fair bit into the relationship between Batman and Joker and really examined the question of why Batman does not simply kill The Joker. John DiMaggio, well known for voicing the robot Bender on Futurama, Jake on Adventure Time as well as countless other roles, took a turn at The Joker in this animated feature. His voice seemed to be a mixture of Mark Hamill and Heath Ledgerís, yet also managed to put a bit of his own spin on it.
Young Justice (2011 - 2013)
In the short lived, but much loved animated series Young Justice, The Joker only appeared once throughout its run alongside a group of villains calling themselves the Injustice League. In this version, The Joker had long side-burns, duel wielded knives and occasionally broke the fourth wall by talking directly to the audience. Brent Spiner, famous for playing Data in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series and films, voiced The Clown Prince in this episode.
The Dark Knight Returns (2013)
Made as a pair of direct-to-DVD features, The Dark Knight Returns is an adaptation of the classic storyline written and drawn by Frank Miller where an older Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement to don the cape and cowl. During Batmanís 10 year absence, Joker was comatose in Arkham for all that time until a news report of Batmanís return woke him up. He then went on a rampage by killing hundreds of people in a television audience to draw Batman out for one final, bloody confrontation.
Batman and The Joker engaged in a brutal fist fight at the Gotham amusement park. Batmanís hatred of his foe radiated off him with each blow while Joker only grew more excited as he realized the moment their entire relationship had built up to was coming. In a heated instant, Batman broke Jokerís neck, but only enough to paralyze him. Absolutely gleeful that he finally made Batman break, Tge Joker managed to twist his neck that much more and kill himself, getting the last laugh on Batman.
Michael Emerson, most well known for portraying, and winning an Emmy for, the villain Benjamin Linus on Lost, voiced The Joker in this film and proved to be one of the standouts in the adaptation.
Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)
The Jokerís latest appearance in animation was in last yearís feature Assault on Arkham, set in the Arkham video game universe. This film actually acts as a kind of primer for the live action Suicide Squad as the focus is on the Suicide Squad and Batman acting more as a supporting character. In this film, the Squad is forced to sneak into Arkham Asylum in order to discover where The Joker placed a nuclear bomb. His partner and on again/off again flame Harley Quinn is on the team and forced to choose between her new friends and heartthrob.
Though Assault on Arkham is set within the Arkham universe, Mark Hamill did not return to voice his character. Instead, Troy Baker, who voiced The Joker in the video game prequel Arkham Origins, reprised his role for the film. Baker proved himself to be a worthy successor to Hamillís Joker in Origins so it was great to once again hear Baker voice The Joker.