Jack Nicholson: Col. Jessup vs. The Joker

One actor. Two film roles. You tell us which portrayal was the best. The most memorable. Or iconic. Or simply your favorite.

But before you pass judgment, a few words defending the “character” of each…

The case for The Joker

“Wait till they get a load of me!” So said the Joker back in 1989 to reinvigorate the superhero genre. While Heath Ledger earned an Oscar for his more recent take on the character, Jack played the over-the-top jester with a venomous relish deserving of the top billing that he demanded for Batman. He also absconded with a cool $60 million thanks to the royalty deal stipulated in his contract. Batman’s nemesis gave us plenty of one-liners to quote while dominating the screen whenever he made an appearance, and it’s still one of the best all-time screen villains. And that’s no joke.

The case for Colonel Jessup

In just a few scenes, Jessup chews up and spits out the mirthful maniac. A Few Good Men’s no-nonsense marine commander is incredulous that anyone—especially one in a “faggoty white uniform” with a “Harvard mouth”—would dare question his authority: “I run my unit how I run my unit…I eat breakfast 300 yards from 4000 Cubans who are trained to kill me, so don’t think for one second that you can come down here, flash a badge, and make me nervous.” And we haven’t even touched the classic courtroom scene. The Joker a better character than Col. Jessup? You can’t handle the truth!

Now that you’ve heard the arguments for both it’s time to render your verdict!