Matt Reeves’ The Batman starring none other than our favorite Robert Pattinson broke all the records onscreen. One cannot disagree that the Joker indeed plays a prominent in making this franchise a hit over years. All the versions of the Joker somehow must be thankful to Jack Nicholson’s sinister transformation of The Joker in 1989’s Batman.
Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman stars Michael Keaton as the iconic cape crusader, and Nicholson played the DC villain. Nicholson stated in an interview a few years ago that he needed his interpretation of the Joker to be taken seriously. It had to be scary enough to frighten a younger audience, in his opinion. He believed it was the only way he could make it work.
“Let’s brighten it up for the kids” – Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson described how he created his terrifying version of the Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman in a video recently resurfaced by The Hollywood Reporter. Rather than going for a more comedic interpretation of the character, as seen in the 1960s Batman series and film, Nicholson saw an opportunity to shake up the superhero genre.
“I was afraid because of my feel of the television series and the way movies tend to be done and talked about. I didn’t want this to go through the normal, ‘Let’s brighten it up for the kids.’ I thought this was very strong — in every way — transitional movie about the genre, and really why they wanted me in there.” – Nicholson
Nicholson’s presence, according to Peter Guber (Producer of Batman), gave the comic book adaptation credibility it wouldn’t have had otherwise.
“It changed the nature of the ‘comic’ framework into a film — from a movie into a film with the inclusion of Jack Nicholson. There was something to be discovered there by the critics and by the media because they would find it intriguing that Jack wanted to do that.” – Peter Guber
Nicholson also envisioned how children would react to villains on screen. Going with the “the scarier, the better” approach, the 85-year-old actor decided to lean into horrifying the audience as a credible Batman foe. It only added to the disturbing nature of his remarks.
“My early experience in working for an audience full of children: the more you scare them, the more they like it. The worse you are, the better, because that was my response to the Joker. This is a hateful occurrence, this man if you looked at it literally. Every kid loves this guy, I believe.”
Source – The Hollywood Reporter