The Joker: Joaquin Phoenix and the many faces of Gotham's most wanted

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Joaquin Phoenix is the latest actor to step into the shoes of Batman's iconic enemy, The Joker.

And the first images from his take on the most murderous of clowns have been revealed.

Joaquin is starring in an as-yet-untitled film, set in the 1980s, about a failed comedian who becomes one of Gotham City's biggest criminals.

Instead of the heavy make-up we've seen on previous versions, Joaquin's take is (so far) altogether more subtle.

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Director Todd Phillips shared the photo on his Instagram with the caption 'Arthur' - believed to be the real name of this Joker.

Other photos and online video show Joaquin's character taking his first steps towards his painted-faced identity as he hangs out with a gruff looking clown in a run-down street.

But Joaquin is the latest in a long line of Hollywood stars to take on the role, and he follows in the footsteps of some major acting names.

Here's what he has to live up to.

Jared Leto

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The 30 Seconds To Mars frontman is the most recent actor to play The Joker on screen, but probably not the most popular.

He starred in 2016's Suicide Squad movie which, despite being hated by the critics was a huge box-office hit which has several spin-offs announced.

Along with a planned sequel, he is due to appear in a standalone Joker movie and another film alongside Margot Robbie as clownish colleague Harley Quinn.

Mark Hamill

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image captionMark Hamill was lured by the dark side (and probably cash) to play The Joker for 26 years

The Star Wars actor played The Joker for more than 25 years, voicing cartoons and video games from Batman: The Animated Series in 1992 up to Lego DC Super Villains in 2018.

Mark is as convincing when dipping into his dark side as he has been portraying Tatooine golden boy Luke Skywalker in five Star Wars films.

Earlier this year, Mark told Sway's Universe that each time he tries to "play him like the first time you've ever done it".

Heath Ledger

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image captionHeath Ledger died in the same year as The Dark Knight was released

For many, Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker in 2008's The Dark Knight is cinema's definitive version.

It was one of the actor's final roles before his death and the following year he won a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at the 2009 Academy Awards.

Zach Galifianakis

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image captionThere was a hint of romance between Zach's Joker and Will Arnett in the title role of The Lego Batman Movie

Nothing clears the head quite like some animated violence, and it was The Hangover star Zach Galifianakis's turn to torment Gotham in The Lego Batman Movie in 2017.

Zach's take on Gotham's most wanted is a lighter, brighter take than some of the gruff, murderous counterparts in the movies.

Jack Nicholson

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image captionJack Nicholson was the first actor to explore the dark side of The Joker seen in the comics

Way back when in 1989, before Bat nipples and Arnold Schwarzenegger killed a franchise, Jack Nicholson stole the show as The Joker, opposite Michael Keaton's Batman.

It was a bit of theme for Mike, because Michelle Pfieffer's Catwoman did the same in its sequel, Batman Returns, in 1992.

Special mention: Cesar Romero

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Batman first appeared on screens in the 1960s as a light hearted action adventure, with Cesar Romero playing The Joker opposite Adam West's polite caped crusader.

This was The Joker's least threatening hour, more interested in heists and theft than the vicious revenge dealt out by more recent portrayals.

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