Much like his arch-nemesis Batman, the Joker’s longstanding popularity is partly due to how easily he lends himself to reinvention. He can be everything from a harmless jester to a murderous psychotic, and everything in between. On screen he’s been played by such disparate thespians as Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger, and each made a memorable version that was wholly their own.
Given Heath Ledger’s bravura performance the previous year, Rocksteady Studios had to be make sure the Joker they created for Batman: Arkham Asylum was equally engaging. As with many aspects of the game, they chose to walk a line between reality and comic book fantasy, creating a Joker whose appearance and murderous behavior is in line with The Dark Knight and the darker corners of the Batman comics mythos, while casting Hamill as the voice actor. Hamill played the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, which memorably balanced the murderous Joker of the 1940s and 1970s with the laughing prankster of the 1950s and 1960s. While the Joker of Arkham Asylum never balks at a senseless murder, he’s also much quicker with a joke than Ledger’s Clown Prince of Crime.
As I mentioned in my Batman review, DC Direct seems to have pulled out all the stops for their Arkham Asylum figures. This is somewhat interesting, since two other companies (Mattel and Square Enix) are also making figures based on the games, yet DCD isn’t just trying to make a quick buck as they have with some other their other videogame lines (i.e., anything except World of Warcraft).