Heath Ledger has redefined one of the world’s greatest villains, said David Denby in The New Yorker. In the last role before his death, Ledger overshadowed Jack Nicholson to become the incarnation of Joker—the archenemy of Batman—we’ll always remember. “He’s part Alice Cooper the morning after, and all actor. He’s mesmerizing in every scene.”
There’s no question that Ledger’s Joker is “scary all the time,” said David Betancourt in a Washington Post blog. But what made Nicholson’s performance so memorable was that it provided “psychotic comic relief” in a film that was “truly dark.” So, enjoy Ledger’s performance in The Dark Night, but Nicholson’s Joker is still “one for the ages.”
Some fans think there’s no matching Nicholson, said Dalson Chen in The Windsor Star, while others found his Joker “buffoonish and hammy.” Either way, “Gotham City in the new millennium is a darker place,” and Ledger’s “psycho-cool look and deranged hiss” are perfect for the cruelest villain in Batman’s hometown.