28. The Joker
Played By: Jack Nicholson
Movie: Batman (1989)
Fine. Comic book movies grew up, got dark, and Heath Ledger turned in this amazing performance, both unhinged and utterly controlled, as the Joker in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. Viewers couldn't look away and blah blah blah.
Someday soon, there is going to come a time when we decide that the world is too much of a violent, amoral nightmare full of actual people waterboarding each other for scraps of meaningless information that won't settle the wars that continue to rage, and when we grow too nauseous at this fact, we will pine for movie villains that jammed to Prince while spray-painting art museums. We will long for Jack Nicholson's cartoonish interpretation of the Joker when we realize that the other sort is omnipresent. —RS