Originally Published: March 4, 2011, on Comicvine.com

Batman: Arkham City is probably one of the most anticipated video games of 2011, but it will also mark the end of an era as Mark Hamill, the quintessential Clown Prince of Crime for the past two decades, has said that he will officially walk away from doing the voice of the Joker after this project. With this comes the difficult choice for casting directors of deciding who will take over as the vocal chords behind that infamous rictus grin.

This got me thinking that maybe I could lend Andrea Romano and other casting directors a hand. Romano, the DC Animation casting director who of course introduced us to Hamill as the Joker, will probably have the biggest hand in selecting a replacement for most projects involving the Joker. So with that, here is a comprehensive list I made of possible candidates for a new Ace of Knaves.

Kevin Michael Richardson

An extremely accomplished voice actor, Kevin Michael Richardson has been doing the voices of various comic book and video game characters now for almost 20 years. Bishop, Tombstone, Lucius Fox, Mammoth, Trigon and many others from both the Marvel and DC Universe, Richardson is a possible front-runner for the role after serving as the Joker for the entire five season run of The Batman in the mid-2000s.

Richardson’s Joker was part of a push for a more realistic Batman as a supplement building up to Batman Begins in 2005 and thus was forced to play a bit more of an urban thieving jester than the genius psychopath with a sadistic sense of humor. Preferring a straight jacket with torn sleeves, bare feet, and dreadlocks to the more traditional custom tailored suit and slicked up hair, Richardson’s Joker still got across that most basic of dynamics, that the Joker must be the yang to Batman’s yin. Throw in a sinister cackle cross bred with a hyena for his laugh and Kevin Michael Richardson did something that you want to see from whatever actor takes the role, he worked with it and tried to make it his own. Add in his experience already working with Andrea Romano on several projects to put him a little higher than a lot of the competition.

John DiMaggio

Another top of the line voice talent, John DiMaggio is best known as Bender from Futurama and Marcus Fenix from Gears of War. He also got at least one shot as the Joker when he voiced the Harlequin of Hate for the recent Batman: Under the Red Hood straight to DVD movie from DC Animation.

Strongly criticized for his portrayal of the Joker, I actually enjoyed his performance except for the fact that he didn’t make it his own. It seemed more like he was trying to blend Heath Ledger from The Dark Knight with Mark Hamill’s vision of the Joker instead of bringing something unique to the table. If he should land the role, I hope that whoever the casting director is works with him on trying to make the character more his own instead of trying to give fans what they expect from the character because he definitely has the chops to reach greatness. John also has the advantage of having worked with Andrea Romano as he also portrayed Aquaman and Gorilla Grodd in episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

Jeff Bennett

Another 20-year veteran of the voiceover business, Jeff Bennett is playing the most active version of the Joker at the moment in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon. The cartoon is a campier version of Batman and his rogues gallery that harkens back to the original run of the comic series of the same name from the 1950s, and so Bennett’s Joker is not nearly as sadistic or sinister as we’ve become more accustomed to. There are some episodes that have shown that he maintains his obsession with Batman, but the overall tone of the show prevents Bennett from ever showing that real dark side that fans have come to expect from the Joker. Not to say he couldn’t do it, but if Bennett were to become to the number one candidate, he’d have to show that he has the range to take the character where the fans want to see it go if it would be a permanent fix.

Being the Brave and the Bold Joker has afforded Bennett the chance to work with Andrea Romano, but it’s more likely that the campy scripts of Brave and the Bold have written off his chance of becoming the Joker full-time. Not to mention, he seems to be just imitating other campy voice versions of the Joker from decades earlier and hasn’t made the character his own at all.

Scott Cleverdon

Not many people may know of Scott Cleverdon, but when sitting down to make my list, he was one of the first names for me to come to mind of people who have never played the Joker. Comic book fans may know Scott best for his portrayal of Carnage in the mid-1990s Spider-Man cartoon as well as his brief stint in Batman Beyond as Jack of the Royal Flush Gang.

It is his experience as Carnage that really piqued my interest because there are few maniac villains who could come close to the seeming randomness of the Joker’s ways, but Carnage is definitely one. Carnage kills because he loves to kill and that easily could transition into the Joker. The Joker and Carnage are seen as so similar that they even teamed up in a 1995 one-shot crossover versus Spider-Man and Batman. Obviously, Cleverdon would need a bit more control with the Joker to get that calculating nature across if he were to become a candidate, but his high-pitched hyena giggle that he used with Carnage could work very well with the Joker. He has never worked with Andrea Romano and bringing the two of them together could also lead to an interesting exploration of the character.

Michael Nicolosi

Another candidate who has never played the Joker, but is familiar with sadistic clowns is Michael Nicolosi. He may not have the voiceover experience as some of the others on this list, but he did do a fantastic job as the Clown form of the Violator in the late-1990s HBO Spawn animated series. Obviously, in terms of language used, the Joker will be much more toned down than the script used on a premium channel, but Nicolosi provided that perfect calm before the storm. As Violator, he had a cool demeanor that put enough unease in you to know without seeing it that there was a monster just bubbling below the surface, which is literally the case in Violator.

Michael Nicolosi hasn’t worked with Andrea Romano either, but if he can flick that special switch on and off with the Joker like he did a decade ago with Violator, then he might be someone who should be given a look for those really dark storylines involving the Clown Prince of Crime.

Frank Welker

This candidate is probably the biggest wild card (pun intended, pun always intended), but is also easily the most experienced voice actor on this list with more than 40 years under his belt. Frank Welker played the campiest version of the Joker on this list when he played him as a part of The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians in 1985. He has also played nearly every character imaginable and if you saw the list, you’d understand why I think he has the range where, if no others rose to the challenge, Frank could steal the title for himself and provide us whatever version of the Joker we want. Whether a dark, sadistic murderer, an aloof thief and eternal foil to the Dark Knight, or a campy jester prancing around with exploding whoopee cushions, Welker could get the job done.

Andrea Romano and Frank Welker worked together on the 1980s Jonny Quest and several other cartoons so these wily two veterans are probably very well acquainted with one another, which makes you think that if Welker hasn’t been used before for some other projects involving the Joker, then maybe he doesn’t have it in him to play the more serious Ace of Knaves.

Jack Nicholson

Here’s the long shot, and I know how much of a long shot this is, but hear me out on why this could work and why DC Animation should pursue Jack. The reason why this came to mind is I just moved and was looking through my video games and I came across my copy of From Russia With Love from the last generation of consoles and thought how great it was for Sean Connery to reprise his role as James Bond more than four decades after he shot the corresponding film. It’s not like he had a lot on his plate though due to the natural ageism that comes in Hollywood. There are simply less roles out there for older actors.

So here is an opening for the Joker, a role that Jack Nicholson defined for many people back in 1989. Movie roles are starting to dry up a bit for him. I’m sure he could find time in the basketball off-season to head over to a recording studio and reprise a role that many still see him as being the best live action version of. Even if he only does it for one movie or one video game, the appeal for all of us Batman fans out there to hear Jack do the Joker again would make it one of the best selling DVDs or games of that year. Gimmicky yes, but gimmicks sell and you can’t tell me you wouldn’t be curious.

Me, Ray Carsillo

Ok, honestly, this has been a dream of mine for years and at this point it’s probably the best way to get my name out there. If somehow Andrea Romano sees this, then maybe I’ll have a chance because I love the Joker so much I even have my own set of razor blade playing cards.

My name is Ray Carsillo and yes, I have done voiceover work before. Not a lot, but I have a radio/TV background and voiced a couple PSAs and commercials. You would have to trust me on this until you heard it, but I have the most maniacal laugh of anyone you’ll meet and can change my demeanor on a dime if necessary. I think I’ve shown my passion and more than any of these others guys on the list, I come cheap (I used that same line on the folks at Comicvine). All I’m asking for is a tryout…and if you would like a sniff of my flower?

-Ray “StrongProtector” Carsillo

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