The fictional universe in which the original comic book stories of the DC characters take place is referred to as simply “The DC Universe”. But recently, DC started establishing, by cross-over, a larger one called the DC Extended Universe. This is going to happen through a release of a series of superhero movies based on DC characters, which will further develop the DC Universe, starting from common plot elements.
In 2013, “Man of Steel” was the first movie bringing the DC Extended Universe to life, featuring the origin story of Superman. In 2016, two more movie adaptations set in the DC Extended Universe are set to launch. Namely “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad”.
In the latter, the Joker will be present and is played by Jared Leto. Since the most recent film to feature the character was that in which Heath Ledger gave his masterful rendition, there are already enough voices anticipating that Leto’s Joker can only be worse or that he might even be disastrous.
However, there have been many other portrayals of Joker in the past which are quite awful. So we can probably safely say that there will surely still be at least 6 Joker versions worse than the 2016 one.
In the parallel non-canon plot-worlds produced by DC comics and collected under the name “Elseworlds”, there exists a one-shot comic book called “Superman: Speeding Bullets”. The main concept behind it is “what if Batman and Superman were the same person”. But, sadly, it goes further by The Joker also being a “reborn” Lex Luthor. The storyline is predictable and boring and the issue is considered to be one of the worst of the Elseworlds series ever. Along with “The Luthker” it brought forth.
2. Rastafari-ape-like Joker?
Warner Bros. (which, surprisingly, is the company that owns DC Comics so they should have been more interested in canon) launched an animated TV series in 2004 called “The Batman”. It was mostly a success, with the usual on and off blunders or boring moments that most series have. But when it comes to the villain it definitely took a monstrous dose of creative liberty. In the form of a Dreadlock-ish, Rastafari, moving-lik-an-ape in a purple straight jacket with spiral motifs Joker. No more comment.
3. The Double-Meaning Joker
Though he was created in 1940 and enjoyed a great deal of success as he was, in 1951, the writers in charge of the Joker character unfortunately managed to show the world the pressure they were on from the “Comics Code Authority”. The deal was that this agency insisted to tone-down the violence and psychosis present in comics and since the Joker was a prime example, as he was created as a competent, cold and cunning killer, he was one of the targets. The result was that from his release up to 1951, the writers kept turning him into more of a silly tongue-in-cheek villain. And in the fabled year, they issued the “Batman” Issue #66. In this issue, a slang term which was popular and normal at the time is used. The term is … “boner”. Joker’s monologue as he reads a gazette “chortling at Joker’s boner”? “So! They laugh at my boner, will they?! (…) I’ll show them how many boners the Joker can make”.
4. Not the ‘stache!
In the first live-action adaptation of The Joker, which aired in 1966, Cesar Romero got the part. His laugh was good, his overall image became iconic as the pioneer. But there was also one more thing that he is memorable for: the fact that he didn’t shave his mustache when taking the part! Seriously, you have an actor playing the Joker and underneath the white make-up you can clearly see the mustache giving everything a dubious vibe and ruining the feel.
5. Joquerading around
What do you get if the writers (and producers) decide to make a Joker featuring: an Emo haircut, finger-less gloves, a weird green shirt-orange tie-grey suit ensemble and… tiny vampire-like fangs? Yes fangs. A Joquerade of course. A sad combination of elements that detract completely from how the canonical Joker is portrayed as an intense, unpredictable psycho. And that’s exactly what happened with the Joker in the “Young Justice” TV series. And not even Brent Spinner’s great voice acting could save this. Thankfully, the character only appears in one episode.
6. Commercial Left-Overs
The company OnStar dealing in on board navigation and security for cars approached DC and worked with them to creat six commercials featuring Batman (between 2000 and 2002) in the hopes of gaining more costumers with the help of the popular character. For DC’s part, it would keep the hype alive and make the character even more visible, by making him a part of everyday life in the real-world (who can avoid commercials, huh?). Of course, it wouldn’t make sense to invest tons of money into such a small project. So the “brilliant” plan of using props left-over from 2 previous Batman films (those of Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher) and just film some new scenes with those with… some actors was conceived. The props and filming aren’t great but they’re not disastrous either. The portrayal of Joker by Curtis Armstrong, a.k.a. “Booger” from “Revenge of the Nerds” however… Let’s just say they couldn’t find some left-over Jack Nicholson talent.