Heath Ledger’s Joker: Did he meet the hype?

Juan Orozco
Juan Orozco
The Dark Knight - Joker
The Dark Knight - Joker

We just watched The Dark Knight Sunday night after an afternoon of tamale making and gorging.   We had Ciri's dad, step-mom, and step-grandma over, so we had a nice assembly line going.   After they left, we sat on the couch and popped in The Dark Knight.

I wanted to watch this movie way before Heath Ledger died, and it sucks that some people have hyped it up based on it being Ledger's last performance.   I wanted to watch it because the first one was great and because Heath Ledger was, at the very least, an interesting choice for The Joker.

I grew up with Jack Nicholson's Joker; people before me grew up with Cesar Romero and his mustache.   Right away, people started comparing the three actors' interpretations of the Joker.   This is a natural reaction, albeit a flawed reaction.   I am partial to Jack Nicholson's rendition, but I don't think that it is fair to compare the three since they all took place during different periods of American culture.   Apples and oranges.

I wanted to believe the hype, but people these days are so eager to jump on some bandwagon or another.   I resisted believing everybody's opinion until I saw the movie for myself.

So Ciri and I finally got a chance to sit down and watch the movie after we put Izzy down for bed.   I don't want to review the movie, except I do want to say that without Heath Ledger, the movie would have been crap.   Period.

In the scene where he is robbing the bank we get our first meeting with the Joker.   This single, short scene gave me chills.   I could not believe what I was seeing.   He did meet the hype - in Ciri's unbiased opinion, he actually exceeded it.   He was really a bad ass Joker.

This brought up so many questions, though.   Is his Joker the best live action Joker?   Is his performance really worth a nomination or even an award?   For the former, you can't say his is the best.   You just can't.   Go back to the 80's and relive the hype of Jack's Joker and tell me they can be compared.   No way.

As for the nomination.   He was good.   Damn good.   He brought something to the Joker that none of his predecessors could, and he did it right.   Not just "good", but "right."   Ciri and I went back and analyzed many other villains from comic book movies.   William Dafoe bombed in Spiderman, I think.   Kevin Spacey was pretty good, but it wasn't anything amazing.   There's more, but you get the point.

I was hesitant to say he deserves an award at first because I thought it would be marred with the extra hype his performance received after his death.   If he hadn't died, would people still think he deserved an award?   Maybe not as many people would think so, but overall, I'm convinced he earned an award.

We decided that Heath Ledger's Joker, was by far the best performance of all the other superhero flicks.   And not only was he the best, but he also set a very, very high bar for any actor that wants to play a villain after this.