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Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 07/18/2008

Dark Knight: Joker Moment No. 1...

By Michael Cavna

Once Heath said yes, the dye -- and makeup -- was cast. (Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Comics)

With today's debut of "The Dark Knight," we conclude our weeklong countdown of the Top Five Moments in Joker history (a short list that forced us to exclude Cesar Romero's laugh and Mark Hamill's vocal talents). Here...we...go...

Joker Moment No. 1.
The moment: "Let's put a smile on that face" -- Heath Ledger is cast as the Joker.

The full story: After turning down the Spider-Man franchise, Ledger became the last actor we'd have expected to reprise the Joker. Ledger might have shunned playing a superhero, but he couldn't resist playing one of the juiciest villains. Ledger is riveting -- part campy clown, part psychotic killer -- and he brings a fresh intimidation factor to the role. The casting choice pays off: Ledger's performance is the one by which future Joker portrayals will be compared.

That's our top moment. What's yours? And if you've seen the film, did you like Ledger's performance as much as we did?

-- David Betancourt

By Michael Cavna  | July 18, 2008; 11:20 AM ET
Categories:  Superheroes  
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Next: Readers Speak: Your Top Joker Moments


Heath Ledger's Joker was nothing short of amazing. My God was he creepy.

Posted by: ASinMoCo | July 18, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Ledger's Joker was truly awe-inspiring. I couldn't look away the entire time he was on-screen. I could geek-gush for a page or two, but I'll leave it at this : Holy-freaking WOW. GO SEE THE MOVIE!

Posted by: EmptySoul | July 18, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

had nightmares about the Joker last night after seeing the movie, he was awesome! I want to see it again!

Posted by: me | July 18, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I wish everyone would stop banging the Cesar Romero pinata. You want to know how dedicated ol' Ceze was to that part? He refused to shave off his mustache! That's right, they just slapped pounds of make-up on his mug to try and hide it. He could care less about being The Joker until the checks started rolling in. Now, when Ledger's Joker dispatches a female victim from several stories up - and doesn't even look to see what happens, because in his mind she's already dead - that, boys and girls, is a quintessential Joker moment!

Posted by: ComicGenius | July 18, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

No matter how many clips you watch online of Heath's performance, it doesn't even BEGIN to scratch the surface of what The Joker is like in the movie. When he was telling Rachel Dawes the story behind his scarred face, I kept squirming in my seat waiting for him to give her a "glasgow smile"......truly, this is a performance for the ages and I'm not JOKING pardon the pun ;)

Posted by: inspired | July 18, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

As I've told all my friends, I think it's fair to compare Ledger's Joker to the greatest movie villains of all time, such as Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter. Ledger didn't just play the part; he WAS the part. Jack Nichol-who?

Posted by: Fairfax, VA | July 21, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

yes. BAMF is what comes to mind. his performance as the joker is the definition of BAMF. he was so cool, yet creepy, yet funny, yet demented. any time he was on screen, i would be creeped out. i have seen the movie twice in the past 3 days already, and by god i will make it 3 soon. this movie was in no way shape or for overhyped. THIS IS THE BEST PERFORMANCE I HAVE SEEN IN A LONG TIME. hands down. go get your friends, and force them to see this movie pronto.

Posted by: BAMF | July 24, 2008 3:14 AM | Report abuse

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