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Even years after Zack Snyder gave us a version of the Bat that does kill in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this scene is still one of the most shocking in Batman movie history, anchored by a scene-stealing performance by Ledger, who looks like he’s really enjoying being beaten within an inch of his life. – JS

Joker in Batman: Under the Red Hood

The Death of Jason Todd – Under the Red Hood (2010)

Too often, actors playing the Joker only lean on the character’s maniacal qualities, leaving the other aspects unexplored. So it’s a bit of a relief when an actor finds a new angle to the multifaceted madman, retaining the menace without repeating the same familiar beats. For the 2010 direct-to-video movie Batman: Under the Red Hood, celebrated voice actor John DiMaggio offers a refreshing and terrifying version of the villain. Despite the title, Under the Red Hood is also in part an adaptation of one of the most famous Batman stories of all time, Death in the Family, in which the Joker murders the second Robin, Jason Todd. Given the wackiness of the original story from 1988’s Batman #427, which also involves the Joker joining the Iranian government, one could imagine another goofy and over-the-top performance.

Instead, DiMaggio makes the Joker unnervingly quiet as he beats Todd to death with a crowbar. Lowering his signature growl to a near-whisper, DiMaggio sounds almost empathetic as he asks, “So, let’s try and clear this up, okay, pumpkin? What hurts more? A or B? Forehand or backhand?” Punctuating each question with a swing of the crowbar, Joker quietly takes in Todd’s whimpers until he can no longer control it, letting loose with a cackle. Unlike the zanier takes that we’ve seen elsewhere, DiMaggio’s Joker is methodical and almost reverent as he kills Robin, proving once again that unpredictability is his greatest weapon. – JG

Joker in The Lego Batman Movie

Romantic Nemeses – The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

For 82 years, Batman and the Joker have been stuck in a cyclical relationship. The Joker tries to take over or at least create chaos within Gotham, and Batman is tasked with stopping him. Batman almost always succeeds, but somehow when the dust settles, Joker always gets away. Cycle, rinse, repeat. Joker is Batman’s greatest foe, and their relationship is like the Chicken/Egg conundrum; did criminals like Joker create Batman, or did Batman create criminals like Joker? Can it be both? They’re so tethered to each other, and based on what continuity you’re following, had a direct hand in creating the other. They’re also borderline-obssessed; mostly, Jokers acts of terrorism are motivated by nothing more than getting a rise out of Batman, and Batman refuses to end his war with Joker, keeping him alive despite his better judgement, basically ensuring that the two will fight forever.

With so much history, interconnectedness, and obsession, is it possible that there’s something…romantic between the two of them? After all, they say there’s a very thin line between love and hate. A psychosexual element to the Batman/Joker relationship has been more than just subtext ever since Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, but strangely, the only cinematic version of these characters that explores this reading of their relationship is also by far the silliest and mostly aimed at children.

Yes, The Lego Batman Movie and Zach Galifianakis’ version of Joker plays the romantic angle between Joker and Batman’s decades-long affair mostly for laughs, but it’s a unique depiction of their dynamic that helps drive the film’s plot and furthers Batman’s character arc in the film, going from a loner who “doesn’t do [relation]ships” to the leader of a Bat-family. Having Joker tear up at hearing Batman declare that he likes to “fight around” is somehow both hilarious and a little poignant. You almost feel sorry for the little sociopath. The film features a great take on their relationship that should be explored more seriously in the next live-action face-off between these two toxic lovers. – NH

Source: Den of Geek

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