5. Batman 1966
The first movie Joker wasn't just an expression of the comics, he was a reflection of societal anxieties in a period of great social and cultural change. Cesar Romero's flamboyant, rapscallion clown was ostentatious, larger than life and a chaotic challenge to acceptable norms.
In the world that gave birth to Adam West's Batman, the Caped Crusader wasn't so much a champion for Gotham's downtrodden, little people - he was an instrument of the law, a weapon of government. He was a stick-in-the-mud stooge in a costume designed to infiltrate stranger worlds but who clearly wasn't made of the same stardust.
In the eyes of "the establishment," Romero's Joker was an extreme symbol of the dangers of flower power, free expression and cultural defiance. His costume wasn't just that of a clown, it was of someone alien to the ideas of restriction and morality that were crumbling with the arrival of rock and roll and mini-skirts and his whole absurd characterisation painted his villainy as being fundamentally tied to his difference.
Given the rise of race riots and the cultural clashes between generations, it should come as no surprise that "the man" would build a nightmare out of the difference and exoticness that Robinson had claimed were his inspiration for the Joker.
After a movie and three seasons, Romero's Joker gave way to another take on the character - albeit after a considerable period walking the wilderness, but again, he was a reflection of the society that created him. And that very much transferred across to the next Joker, a couple of decades - and several aborted attempts to make a Batman movie - later...
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