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Why Mark Hamill Is Retiring His Joker After Three Decades

"Without Batman, crime has no punchline."

Batman and Joker fighting in Batman the Animated Series.

Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy have been the most well-known voices behind the Joker and Batman for over 30 years. From the DC Animated Universe to the Arkham video games and animated comic book adaptations like The Killing Joke, these two actors shaped multiple generations of these characters. The connection between the two has been a focal point of almost every piece of Batman media, and Hamill and Conroy’s contributions to that dynamic cannot be understated.

But what does Kevin Conroy’s passing mean for the future of Hamill’s Joker?

History

Conroy and Hamill worked together on seven animated shows, three movies, and four video games prior to Conroy’s passing. Even when not voicing the iconic villain/hero duo, the two worked together on numerous other Batman projects, using their dynamic to add news layers to their performances; when Conroy voiced Dick Grayson’s father in The Batman, Mark Hamill voiced Tony Zucco, the man who killed him. When Conroy voiced the Phantom Stranger in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Hamill voiced the Spectre, a vengeful spirit who hoped to prove that Batman could be driven to kill.

Now that there’s only one member left of this dynamic duo, many fans wondered if Hamill would continue on without Conroy. And it appears that he has finally given his answer.

“They would call and say, ‘They want you to do the Joker,’ and my only question was, ‘Is Kevin Batman?’ If they said yes, I would say, ‘I’m in,’” Hamill explained in an interview with Empire magazine. “We were like partners. We were like Laurel and Hardy. Without Kevin there, there doesn’t seem to be a Batman for me.”

The future

To be fair, this is not the first time Hamill has retired from the character. He claimed to have retired from playing the Joker all the way back in 2011 with the release of the Batman: Arkham City game, a story that ended in the Joker’s death. Yet he came back for Batman: Arkham Knight for one of the most fascinating (if controversial) stories in all of Batman lore, which saw the permanent end of both Batman and the Joker. He went on to voice the Joker in multiple projects since.

But this retirement certainly feels more final. For one, there are many more actors voicing the Joker today than there were back then (Troy Baker, Alan Tudyk, John DiMaggio, and Jeff Bennett have all voiced the character in recent animated movies and shows). There’s also the fact that Hamill is much older now than he was then. And the most obvious reason is as he stated: He just can’t bring himself to do it without his partner in crime.

“Kevin was perfection,” Hamill said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, shortly after Conroy’s passing. “He was one of my favorite people on the planet, and I loved him like a brother. He truly cared for the people around him—his decency shone through everything he did. Every time I saw him or spoke with him, my spirits were elevated.”

It may be hard to come to terms with losing both Batman and the Joker. But remember, while many of us lost our Batman, Hamill lost a friend.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Kimberly Terasaki is a Creative Writing graduate, fanfiction author, and intersectional feminist. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan. She appreciates all constructive criticism and genuine discussion.