TimBurton`s Batman(the joker) Versus Chris Nolan`s TheDark Knight(the joker)
Oneof the major trends in film today is the actualization of comicalsuperheroes in movies however, the manner in which directors chooseto portray certain characters differs. Batmanisa 1989 film by Tim Burton that is based on a DC Comics superhero bythe same name. In this movie, Michael Keaton stars as Batman/BruceWayne, whereas Jack Nicholson plays Joker, Batman’s nemesis. On theother hand, TheDark Night isa 2008 film about the same characters by Christopher Nolan, andstarring Christian Bale as Batman and Heath Ledger as Joker. However,although both films are based on the same superhero story, they seemto differ in their portrayal of the story’s characters. Perhaps,the question of who was the most effective Joker between JackNicholson and Heath Ledger is the most debatable topic about theBatman Franchise. Overall, as much as Jack Nicholson was a remarkableactor in Tim Burton’s Batman,HeathLedge is a more appropriate Joker in Chris Nolan’s TheDark Knight.
Nolan’splot is also more befitting of the comical Joker than Burton’s is.Particularly, Burton’s plot follows the joker’s path as a linearstory, which makes it easier to understand Nicholson’s motivationsand actions. Contrarily, the Joker’s path in Nolan’s story isnon-linear and unpredictable, which best suits the comical character.For instance, TheDark Knight beginswith Ledger robbing a bank alongside other thugs, but just when onebegins to think he is part of their team, he murders all of them.Fundamentally, the linearity with which Nicholson does things somehowsuggests that the Joker has some sense of normalcy or rationality. Onthe other hand, Ledger unpredictability is on another level forinstance, his actions seem to lack motive and he says whatevercrosses his mind (he does not hold to one version of motivation ortruth) this is the true personality of the maniac that Joker shouldbe. A good example of Ledger’s insane unpredictability is thatevery time he is asked about his facial scars, which give him aforced grin, he gives a different story each time, but always says itwith so much intensity that it is believable all the time this isthe ultimate mark of unpredictability.
TheJoker is supposed to be a psychopath whose craziness outmatches orparallel’s with Batman’s wits. Nevertheless, Nicholson is more ofa practical clown than a psychopath — perhaps, Burton’s poorattempt to portray a goofy yet fun Joker. Contrarily, Heath Ledger isa dark or insane kind of fun, which is more typical of the Joker inDC’s comics he is scary, fun at times, crazy all at the same time,which makes him more mysterious and interesting to watch thanNicholson. A great example of this is the fact that Nicholson’scrimes are of his own choosing, while Ledgers is seemingly an agentof chaos he kills people’s lives, hospitals, and even criminalempires just for fun — this is the perfect depiction of the comicalJoker. For instance, while orchestrating the bank robbery, he tellsall the robbers different things until they kill each other and he isleft as the sole survivor however, he burns down his wealth, whichmakes it confusing to imagine why he orchestrated the robbery in thefirst place — this here is the ultimate depiction of the Joker as apsychopath.
Moreover,Ledger plays a more intelligible Joker than Nicholson does. InBurton’s Batman,Nicholsonis portrayed as more of a goofy or silly character than as a masterstrategist. Although this works to create some humor in the film, forinstance when Nicholson yells “He stole my balloons!”, it failsto showcase the Joker as a formidable foe to Batman (Romagnoli andPagnucci 54). According to superhero comics, the nemesis issupposed to be the equal opposite of the hero in order to create anunsolvable conflict in other words, the conflict in superherostories is usually a matter of what happens an unstoppable forcemeets an immovable object (Booker 42). Notably, Batman’s wit andresourcefulness compensate for his lack of superhuman capabilities,such as flying in such a manner, it is only appropriate that hisnemesis be an equally intelligent character who uses his power forevil. Intrinsically, Ledger meets this criterion perfectly — he isa master strategist for instance, he plans an ingenious bank heistat the beginning of the movie, which establishes him as a worthyvillain for DC’s World’s Greatest Detective also known as Batman.
Conclusively,Heath Ledger in Nolan’s TheDark Knight isa better Joker than Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s Batman.AlthoughNicholson is fun and goofy, which makes Batmanfunto watch, Ledger fits the ideal character of the Joker in many moreways. For instance, he is totally insane, fun at times, crazy, andatypically smart. In addition, TheDark Knight’splot is nonlinear, which makes Ledger’s plans less predictable, andmore befitting of DC’s Joker. Overall, although Nicholson makes itinteresting to watch the Joker in Batman,HeathLedger is the ultimate animation of the Joke in DC’s comics.
Romagnoli,Alex S, and Gian S. Pagnucci. Enterthe Superheroes: American Values, Culture, and the Canon of SuperheroLiterature.The Scarecrow Press, Inc.,2013.
Booker,M. Keith. Encyclopediaof Comic Books and Graphic Novels.Greenwood Press, 2010.