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Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 07/18/2008

Dark Knight: Joker Moment No. 1...

Once Heath said yes, the dye -- and makeup -- was cast. (Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Comics)

With today's debut of "The Dark Knight," we conclude our weeklong countdown of the Top Five Moments in Joker history (a short list that forced us to exclude Cesar Romero's laugh and Mark Hamill's vocal talents). Here...we...go...

Joker Moment No. 1.
The moment: "Let's put a smile on that face" -- Heath Ledger is cast as the Joker.

The full story: After turning down the Spider-Man franchise, Ledger became the last actor we'd have expected to reprise the Joker. Ledger might have shunned playing a superhero, but he couldn't resist playing one of the juiciest villains. Ledger is riveting -- part campy clown, part psychotic killer -- and he brings a fresh intimidation factor to the role. The casting choice pays off: Ledger's performance is the one by which future Joker portrayals will be compared.

That's our top moment. What's yours? And if you've seen the film, did you like Ledger's performance as much as we did?

-- David Betancourt

By  |  11:20 AM ET, 07/18/2008

Categories:  Superheroes

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