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Mortal Kombat 11 Concept Art Reveals Cut Joker Skins

Within the last year, the Joker has proven to be a controversial character in more ways than one. Aside from the concerns over the new feature film starring Joaquin Phoenix, there was backlash regarding the character's original design as a DLC character for Mortal Kombat 11. 

To put it bluntly, he didn't look great. Thankfully, NetherRealm Studios listened to fans and gave the Clown Prince of Crime the makeover that he desperately needed. Now, with there being plenty of speculation regarding future skins for the character, we have a peek behind the curtain at what would've been.

Leaked concept art for MK11 was recently posted to Reddit that shows off a wide range of looks for the Joker. The differences in approach to each of these designs are rather interesting. While the body language and posing are rather similar, the designs themselves appear to draw inspiration from all over the character's many incarnations. It's possible that some of these may even be used in future DLCs, so let's take a look at these and try to suss out what the inspirations were behind these wonderfully creepy designs.

What a bunch of Jokers

The first of these designs has a bit of a thuggish look and carries a spiked baseball bat, but appears somewhat closer to what we'd eventually see in the game. The second, however, greatly resembles the classic gangster design of Jack Nicholson's portrayal from 1989's Batman. The third design follows suit by greatly resembling Heath Ledger's take on the character from The Dark Knight, albeit with less obvious scarring on his face.

Meanwhile, another look appears to be something of a classic Joker mixed with the version from 2016's Suicide Squad. This one has a tattoo on his forehead, much like the Joker portrayed by Jared Leto, yet his wardrobe is more in line with what we know of the character from years of comic book appearances.

Finally, we have the most grotesque of these Jokers: one that appears to have a face that is barely attached to his head. This one is clearly inspired by the Joker's appearance in the comics storyline Death of the Family, in which the Joker removes his own face as a way of showing Batman that they both needed to "unmask."

Any one of these would have made quite an impression in the final version of the game. Hopefully we'll get to see these in action at some point in the future.

Heath Ledger to Jared Leto – sending in the movie clowns

Something that is immediately striking about these rejected designs is just how many of them resemble versions of the Clown Prince of Crime that we've seen in the films. NetherRealm has flirted with these designs in the past, most notably with its awkward Hot Topic-esque Joker from Injustice 2. That Joker looked so goofy that it was almost a relief to discover that he was just a hallucination brought on when Harley Quinn was exposed to Scarecrow's fear gas. Still, that Joker took some fashion cues from the Jared Leto version of the character.

But what about the others? No offense to Jack Nicholson, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for his turn as the Joker (and who made an insane amount of money from the performance). His Joker is a little less of a physical threat, so it makes sense why he wasn't included. 

However, it's hard to argue against the most iconic modern live-action version of the character being Heath Ledger's Academy Award-winning takeIt makes one wonder why that look hasn't been more fully incorporated into a video game.

Why the Heath Ledger Joker may have been cut

It should be mentioned that voice actor Richard Epcar does a fine job voicing the Joker in the Injustice games and Mortal Kombat 11, giving the character his own malevolent spin. Still, many fans were disappointed in Injustice's Joker for one simple reason: he wasn't voiced by Mark Hamill, who has memorably portrayed the character in multiple cartoons and video games

Fans are hard to please when they expect/hope for a very specific take on a character. Sadly, Ledger, who tragically passed away in 2008 at the age of 28, would have had to be replaced in the vocal booth if a Ledger-inspired Joker appeared in MK11. It's hard to even imagine the kind of backlash that would result from having someone else's voice coming from Heath Ledger's Joker. It would have likely seemed disrespectful to fans of the actor and the character alike.

More than anything else, however, it would probably be seen in incredibly poor taste to feature a Ledger-inspired design in a violent fighting game. Admittedly, it would have been great to see/hear him ask Scorpion "Why so serious?" However, it's definitely more respectful that NetherRealm decided to go its own route with the character design.