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Posted at 1:50 PM ET, 07/14/2008

Let the Countdown to "Dark Knight" Begin...

By Michael Cavna

Jack Nicholson as the Joker in 1989. (Herb Ritts -- AP)

As we here at Comic Riffs eagerly await Friday's cinematic release of the Batman sequel "The Dark Knight," we will spend the next five days counting down the top five Joker moments of all time.

Christian Bale is now only the second man ever to wear the cape and cowl twice on screen as Batman (Michael Keaton the other). Aaron Eckhart is playing Harvey Dent (and we all know what's in store for Harvey don't we?). There are even rumors that Cillian Murphy will return as the Scarecrow. But let's be real here. It's all about the clown prince of crime.

The Joker has inspired anarchy since his 1940 comic-book debut in "Batman No. 1." The Joker -- created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson -- has always managed to be that one bad guy who outshines the hero. And it's looking as though the Dark Knight will be no exception. So, let us begin the countdown of the Joker's top moments:

Joker Moment No. 5:
"Jack? Jack is dead my friend. You can call me ... Joker. And as you can see, I'm a lot happier!!"

Those were the opening lines of Jack Nicholson as he emerged from the shadows as a green-haired, chalk-faced, ruby-lipped madman, the Joker, in the 1989 Tim Burton classic "Batman." Nicholson's riveting performance has been the gold standard for all comic-book movie bad guys for two decades. As soon as Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker, the comparisons began and questions were asked whether Ledger would be able to match the performance of Nicholson, who had a flare for the psychotic (see how he disposes of Jack Palance in his opening scene). He steals the show with the movie's best lines and even outshines an absolutely stellar performance by Michael Keaton as Batman.

And we can't forget this Nicholson line.
"Winged freak. Terrorizes Gotham? Wait'll they get a load of me!"

What lines and moments can't you forget? Share them in the comments section.

-- David Betancourt

By Michael Cavna  | July 14, 2008; 1:50 PM ET
Categories:  Superheroes  
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Did you ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? I always ask that of all my prey. I just like the sound of it.

Never rub another man's rhubarb!

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | July 14, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

"This town needs an enema!"

Posted by: Brian | July 14, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Where does he get those wonderful toys?

Posted by: Rick | July 14, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

David...three posts in one day? Who do you think you are? Liz Kelly?

Posted by: former 21044 | July 14, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

The boxing glove into the TV set was classic Joker.....

"She just traded up"

Posted by: Penguin | July 14, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Brian. Metaphorically and in real life, whereever people take themselves too seriously (i.e Washington DC), the need for community wide enema's are great indeed. As for the doctors trained to give them, to rip off Uncle Ben in the Marvel Universe..."with great power comes great responsibility...

Let the show begin!

Posted by: Alan | July 14, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"Batman... Batman! Can somebody tell me what kind of a world we live in where a man dressed up as a *bat* gets all of my press?"

(Just try saying that while holding your mouth in a Joker grin! Got to have the lead-in for the enema line, after all...)

And, as was already posted...

"Where does he get those wonderful toys?"

Posted by: dmm | July 14, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Oh, one more...

"My balloons. Those are my balloons. [pause] He stole my balloons! Why didn't somebody tell me he had one of those... things? Bob, gun." [Bob hands him a gun, Joker shoots him] "I'm gonna need a minute or two alone, boys."

Posted by: dmm | July 14, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"If ya gotta go, go with a smile."

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Jack N. IS the JOKER. The rest are just wannabes

Posted by: Dwa | July 14, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Nah, Caesar Romero still rocks. And when are they going to do a movie with Egghead?

Posted by: buggit | July 15, 2008 7:43 AM | Report abuse

In 1988 a co-worker ran up to me, gasping, and said he just heard a rumor that they were making a Batman movie with Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. I patiently explained to him that even if Hollywood would be so bold, who would cast Keaton as the ultimate athlete and how the hell could you talk Jack into wearing all that makeup every day? I haven't seen Ledger's performance yet, but I say now what I said back then - Jeff Goldblum was BORN to play the part.

But Jack really did pull off the "toys" line.

Posted by: JoE | July 15, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

(talking to corpse) grease them all? well, okay. you really are a vicious bastard... I'm glad you're dead!

Posted by: winstar | July 15, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

i make art until someone dies. see? i am the world's first fully functioning homicidal artist

Posted by: Anonymous | July 15, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

My favorite line from was 3 simple words by Jack Nicholson in "Batman" before he transitioned into the joker. His bosses girlfriend (whom he was having an affair with) stood behind him while he was checking himself out in the mirror preparing for a meeting and she comes up behind him and says, "You look just fine" and he gives her an estranged look and says with an unbelievable cool, "I didn't ask."

Posted by: McCloud | July 17, 2008 8:30 AM | Report abuse

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