10 Jokers That Led to Jared Leto's 'Suicide Squad' Look

From the 1940s original through to today's 'Batman' comic books, revisit 75 years of the Clown Prince of Crime.
Warner Bros.

Now the world has seen Jared Leto's Joker for the first time, thanks to David Ayer's tweet celebrating the 75th anniversary of the character's first appearance Friday afternoon. But how does the Leto Joker compare with the Jokers of years gone by? Here's your chance to compare, with 10 of the villain's most famous looks.

The Original

The Joker's first appearance in 1940's Batman No. 1 was the work of Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson and Bob Kane, with credit for his look disputed between the latter two parties. Whoever was responsible, everyone agrees that the inspiration was Conrad Veidt in the 1928 movie The Man Who Laughs.

The Golden Age

One of the most iconic looks for the Joker remains the redesign of the character by artist Dick Sprang in the 1950s, who brought a more abstract, cartoony look to the character — ideal for a period when Batman's adventures were going through a increasingly surreal, over-the-top reinvention.

Cesar Romero

Romero might have refused to shave off his mustache for the role in the 1960s Batman TV series alongside Adam West (The recent Blu-ray re-release of the series makes that fact worryingly obvious), but there's no denying that he brought a particular energy to the role, becoming the man who defined the Joker for an entire generation.

The Bronze Age

As Batman underwent a reinvention at the hands of creators like Dennis O'Neil, Neal Adams and Jim Aparo in the 1970s, so did his rogues' gallery, including the Crown Prince of Crime — who got to kill people once again, for the first time in decades.

The Killing Joke

Perhaps the most famous Joker story of all, 1988's The Killing Joke graphic novel showed the Joker at arguably his most homicidal, in a story by Watchmen's Alan Moore, but the most dramatic takeaway for most readers was artist Brian Bolland's terrifying take on the villain, at once comedic and threatening.

Jack Nicholson

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the actor's status, when Nicholson took on the role of the Joker in Tim Burton's 1989 big-screen Batman, he looked more like Nicholson in makeup than the skinny clown of the comic books. Then again, given how upset fans had been with the selection of Michael Keaton in the title role, you can't blame filmmakers for wanting to play it a little safe.

Batman: The Animated Series

Given Bruce Timm's art deco, Alex Toth-inspired designs for the 1990s Batman animated series, it wasn't a surprise that his Joker managed to combine elements of many earlier versions, yet look entirely unique. More surprising was that Mark Hamill managed to channel "scary clown" so well in his voice acting.

Heath Ledger

The last big-screen Joker before Leto, Ledger's look was another that attracted criticism when images first appeared online, but the final movie silenced all snark, giving the world one of the most fully realized Jokers it has ever seen — and setting the bar very high for Leto in Suicide Squad.

Death of the Family

One of two major visual overhauls for the comic book Joker in the last few years, Greg Capullo's Joker in the "Death of the Family" storyline had to reattach his face after it had been removed in an earlier storyline. The result? Something that was genuinely disturbing, yet popular enough that replica "faces" were produced for fans.


Capullo's second Joker redesign, which appeared in the current "Endgame" storyline in DC Entertainment's Batman monthly comic, was back to basics in many ways, returning the character to something more subtle and realistic in terms of proportions … and somehow, still "off" enough to be unsettling.