Since making his debut in 1940, via the pages of Batman issue #1, the Joker has built up a reputation for being the No.1 villain Bat-fans love to hate (or hate to love). The character is without doubt one of the most famous bad guys in fiction and has been the star of countless comics and TV shows.

But what about his movie career? How many movies have featured the Joker?

In this post I will answer that question by highlighting all of the movies which feature the Joker. The list will include a mix of live-action and animated appearances, even if some of these roles have provided less screen time than the character deserves.

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The ‘60s era

Image: ©20th Century Fox/DC Entertainment

Let’s kick things off in the 1960s with the Joker’s first live-action movie appearance via Batman: The Movie (1966). The film – a feature-length spin-off from the popular ‘60s Batman TV series – starred Adam West as Batman, Burt Ward as Robin and Cesar Romero as the Joker.

The film was colourful, camp and hilariously funny, but sadly for the Joker he had to share the screen with the Riddler, Catwoman, and Penguin. Oh, the indignity!

Want to watch the Joker’s first movie appearance? Then check out:

  • Batman: The Movie (1966)

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The Batman Anthology

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

For the Joker’s second big screen appearance the budget was increased, as was his screen presence. No longer did Mr. J have to share the spotlight with other villains, here he was the sole bad guy!

The movie was Tim Burton’s Batman – the first entry in the Batman Anthology. The Joker was played by Jack Nicholson, who not only took top billing but also made a huge amount of money for the role – something I’ve previously spoken about on this blog.

The Joker only appeared in one movie within the Batman Anthology – a series which includes Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997) – but his alter ego, Jack Napier did reappear. In director Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever, Napier made a very brief appearance in a flashback.

The viewing order:

  • Batman (1989)
  • Batman Forever (1995) – As Jack Napier in the very (very) briefest of cameos

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The DC Animated Universe

Image: ©Warner Bros./DC Entertainment

Moving into the DC Animated Universe (DCAU) now – a universe that was created in 1992 with the debut of popular television show, Batman: The Animated Series. The DCAU was home to a number of shows (Justice League, Batman Beyond, etc) and even produced a handful of movie spin-offs.

The first feature film spin-off was 1993’s Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. In this movie, the Joker not only played a key role, he also stole every scene he was in!

His second appearance in a DCAU movie was in 2000’s Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. In this feature-length adventure the Clown Prince of Crime fought his two greatest foes – Batman and Bruce Wayne!

The viewing order for these movies is as follows:

  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)

As an additional note, while these films can be watched as standalone tales with little to no knowledge of the DCAU, I highly advise investing some time in Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond. These are two superb cartoons from the 1990s and must watch television for any Bat-fan.

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The Batman

Image: ©Warner Bros./DC Entertainment

In 2004, Warner Bros. Animation launched a new Batman show, simply titled The Batman. The series took the Caped Crusader back-to-basics, reintroducing Bruce Wayne, Gotham City, and of course, the Joker!

The show ran for five seasons and produced one spin-off movie. Although Joker didn’t get a mention in the title of the movie, he did feature in the film.

  • The Batman vs Dracula (2005)

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DC Universe Original Movies

Image: ©Warner Bros./DC Entertainment

Since 2007, Warner Bros. has produced a series of direct to video animated features based on DC Comics characters. Released under the banner heading of DC Universe Animated Original Movies (DCUAOM), titles have included Superman: Doomsday (2007), Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011), Batman and Harley Quinn (2017) and Justice League vs. the Fatal Five (2019), to name but a few.

To date, there are no Joker-centric movies within the DCUAOM (boo). However, Mr. J has popped up in a number of the films (hurrah).

The Joker has appeared in the following movies:

  • Under the Red Hood (2011)
  • The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1 (2012)
  • The Dark Knight Returns – Part 2 (2013)
  • Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)
  • Son of Batman (2014)
  • Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)
  • Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
  • Batman: Hush (2019)

In addition to the above movies, an alternate universe version of the Joker appeared in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010). This character was called the Jester.

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The Dark Knight trilogy

Image: ©Warner Bros./DC Entertainment

Back to live-action Batman movies now and arguably one of the most famous movies to star the Joker, director Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. The late Heath Ledger took on the role, receiving critical acclaim for his performance, as well as a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

  • The Dark Knight (2008)

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Lego

Image: ©Warner Bros./LEGO/DC Entertainment

In 2008, Warner Bros. Interactive and Traveller’s Tales joined forces to produce Lego Batman: The Videogame. The game was a big success and in turn led to a series of Batman Lego game sequels, as well as a collection of direct-to-video tie-in movies and shorts.

The Lego themed ‘movies’ which featured the Joker included:

  • Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite (2013)
  • Lego DC Comics: Batman Be-Leaguered (2014)
  • Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League – Attack of the Legion of Doom (2015)
  • Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash (2018)

As well as appearing in direct-to-video releases, Lego Joker also popped up in the big screen adventure film:

  • The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

In The Lego Batman Movie, the Joker played a significant role (although he had to share his screen time with a lot of Batman villains).

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Batman Unlimited

Image: ©Warner Bros./DC Entertainment

Between 2015 and 2016, three direct-to-video animated Batman feature films were released to promote a new Mattel toyline, Batman Unlimited. The Joker appeared in two of the three movies:

  • Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem (2015)
  • Batman Unlimited: Mech vs. Mutants (2016)
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The DC Extended Universe

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

Back to live-action and this time it’s for the DC Extended Universe, a collection of feature films which began with 2013’s Man of Steel. In this universe the Joker was played by Jared Leto who appeared in:

  • Suicide Squad (2016)

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Batman ‘66

Image: ©Warner Bros./DC Entertainment

Batman: The Movie (1966) was not the only Batman movie set within the Swinging Sixties. In 2016 and 2017, two animated features rewound the clock to the Adam West era of Batman and both movies included the Joker!

The two movies were:

  • Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016)
  • Batman vs. Two-Face (2017)

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Batman Ninja

Image: ©Warner Bros./DC Entertainment

On to anime for this next film – Batman Ninja. This movie was released in two different versions – one aimed at the Japanese market and one altered to suit a Western audience.

What remained consistent across the two movies? The fact the Joker appeared in both!

  • Batman Ninja (2018) – The original Japanese version
  • Batman Ninja (2018) – The American version

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Scooby-Doo

Image: ©Warner Bros./DC Entertainment

Scooby dooby doo, where are you? More importantly, have you seen the Joker?!

Well of course he has! Scooby-Doo has a long association with Batman, which by extension means he has met the Joker on a number of occasions.

Back during the 1970s, the Clown Prince of Crime popped up in two episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, titled The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair and The Caped Crusader Caper. Despite the names, these are not actually movies, they are simply episodes of a television show.

However, the Joker has appeared in a Scooby-Doo movie:

  • Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2018)

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Image: ©Warner Bros./DC Entertainment

In 2019, Nickelodeon and Warner Bros. teamed up to produce an animated feature based on IDW and DC Comics’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Batman crossover comics. The movie featured the Joker as part of the ensemble cast of characters.

  • Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)

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The Joker

Image: ©Warner Bros./DC Entertainment

After years of playing second fiddle to the Caped Crusader and his Bat-family, the Joker was finally given his own solo movie in the appropriately titled, The Joker. Joaquin Phoenix took on the title role for an origin story that focused on the man behind the makeup.

  • The Joker (2019)

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Production order

Image: ©Warner Bros./DC Entertainment

And finally, should you simply want to watch all of the movies that feature the Joker (and why wouldn’t you?), then this is the list for you:

  • Batman: The Movie (1966)
  • Batman (1989)
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)
  • The Batman vs Dracula (2005)
  • Under the Red Hood (2011)
  • The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1 (2012)
  • The Dark Knight Returns – Part 2 (2013)
  • Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)
  • Son of Batman (2014)
  • Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)
  • Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
  • Batman: Hush (2019)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite (2013)
  • Lego DC Comics: Batman Be-Leaguered (2014)
  • Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League – Attack of the Legion of Doom (2015)
  • The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
  • Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem (2015)
  • Batman Unlimited: Mech vs. Mutants (2016)
  • Suicide Squad (2016)
  • Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016)
  • Batman vs. Two-Face (2017)
  • Batman Ninja (2018) – The original Japanese version
  • Batman Ninja (2018) – The American version
  • Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2018)
  • Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)
  • The Joker (2019)

Watch all of these movies and bask in the wit, mirth, and merriment. Well, that is until Batman shows up!

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While the Joker is clearly a huge star, if you also love movies that feature his greatest nemesis, Batman, you may wish to check out the post: Seven best Batman movies for the whole family. I can’t guarantee the movies give the Joker the recognition he deserves, but they are perfect choices for Bat-fans of all ages.

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