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Joker skins Mortal Kombat 11 desperately needs

Back in August 2019, NetherRealm Studios officially unveiled the full lineup of fighters coming to Mortal Kombat 11 as part of the Kombat Pack DLC. While the teaser delivered promising takes on characters like Terminator T-800 and Spawn, the Joker's appearance left much to be desired. With his crisp purple suit, round face, and youthful good looks, the design seemed more appropriate for a Batman Animated Series series cosplayer than a sinister addition to Mortal Kombat 11's impressive roster.

Taking the community's criticisms to heart, NetherRealm revealed a new look for the Joker at The Game Awards. This move proved a big hit, sparking excitement rather than derision and disappointment. With his base appearance salvaged, fans have shifted their attention to the skins that might roll out following the Joker's debut on Jan. 28. As one of DC's most iconic villains, the Clown Prince of Crime comes with a rich history of looks and portrayals spread across comic books, video games, television, and film for the developers to choose from. Here are the Joker skins Mortal Kombat 11 needs to take this controversial release from mess to success.

Joaquin Phoenix Joker

Though Joker divided critics and fans, the 2019 film cemented its place in history as the first R-rated movie to gross over $1 billion at the worldwide box office, the most profitable comic book movie ever made, and the 34th-highest grossing film of all time. Whether you loved it, hated it, or fell somewhere in between, Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal of the Joker has left its mark, unearthing a side of the infamous antagonist no one had seen before.

With Joker's evocative themes and imagery still burned in their minds, Mortal Kombat 11 players have clamored for a Joaquin Phoenix inspired skin for months. While Phoenix's frail, half-starved aesthetic might seem like an odd choice for the fighting game, his slight frame houses a core of grace and fury. The film's interpretation also seems more human and accessible than the parade of past Jokers, an element that would add a greater sense of catharsis when taking on Mortal Kombat 11's other characters.

Heath Ledger Joker

Though Joaquin Phoenix managed to carve out a new path for the character, fans will always associate the Joker with Heath Ledger's portrayal in The Dark Knight. Ledger's unforgettable performance earned him an Oscar following his tragic death at the age of 28, and helped establish super hero films as a legitimate and noteworthy film genre.

People continue to dress as Ledger's Joker for Halloween and the phrase "why so serious?" has become a permanent fixture of pop culture, making it clear that there's still a high demand for the character. While Ledger will never get to fulfill his wish to reprise the role, a The Dark Knight inspired skin would resurrect some of the bittersweet nostalgia associated with it.

Injustice 2 Joker

While most players seem ecstatic about the Joker's new look in Mortal Kombat 11, others preferred the more youthful aesthetic of the original design. An Injustice 2 skin could act as the perfect middle ground for anyone torn between the two interpretations. 

With his long leather coat and bare, blood-spattered chest, Injustice 2's take on the Joker certainly has the most sex appeal of the villain's various iterations. His rounded face and well-formed musculature also strike a similar chord to the version of the Joker depicted in the Kombat Pack roster reveal trailer, features that also divided the Injustice 2 player base.

Death of the Family Joker

Death of the Family, a crossover storyline within the Batman comics, includes one of the most grotesque representations of the Joker across all media. The plot picks up a year after the events of Detective Comics #1, in which Batman captures the Joker and sends him to Arkham Asylum. Unbeknownst to Batman, the Joker engineered this outcome so he could meet with the Dollmaker, a villain who surgically removes Joker's face at his request.

Joker reclaims his preserved face at the start of Death of the Family, using bits of metal to secure it back in place. The reattached skin and still exposed tissue across his forehead and around his eyes make the Joker a far more disturbing and stomach-turning figure, a theme that would fit right in with Mortal Kombat 11's famed violence and gore.

Jared Leto Joker

While Jared Leto's portrayal of the Joker in Suicide Squad did not garner the same levels of acclaim as Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix, the actor still offered an interesting take on the villain. Though some considered his performance over the top, Leto brought a new energy to the character, one that managed to deliver a disturbing combination of danger and sensuality and focused more on the Joker's status as a crime lord. If nothing else, his silver smile, extensive tattoos, and swanky wardrobe would create a pretty outrageous skin, making Leto's Joker the perfect fit for Mortal Kombat's larger than life brand of violence.