Joker Cosplay Costume Ideas Guide

Killer clown. Eccentric prankster. Sadistic psychopath. Zany villain. Batman’s archnemesis, the Joker, has appeared in many forms over the years. From his first appearance in a 1940 edition of the Batman comics to his recent appearances in blockbuster movies, the Joker is an iconic and enduring villain.

With his outrageous and sinister personality, it’s no surprise that loads of us want to cosplay as the Joker at our next event or Halloween party! If you’re looking for Joker cosplay costume ideas, you’ve come to the right place.

There are lots of different versions of the Joker, so we’re covering a bunch of the most iconic Joker costumes in this guide. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Jack Nicholson’s Joker – Batman (1989)
  • Heath Ledger’s Joker – The Dark Knight (2008)
  • Jared Leto’s Joker – Suicide Squad (2016)
  • Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker – Joker (2019)
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Jack Nicholson’s Joker – Batman (1989)

Jack Nicholson's Joker - Batman (1989)

In Tim Burton’s iconic 1989 Batman, Oscar-winning actor Jack Nicholson took on the role of the Joker – or ‘Jack Napier’. Nicholson plays the Joker as a psychotic mobster and ‘homicidal artist’ whose skin was turned white and his hair green when he falls into a vat of chemicals. His disfigured smile is the result of a bullet wound he received from Batman.

The Joker’s signature kill in Batman (1989) is to poison his victims with ‘Smylex’ – a chemical that makes its consumer laugh hysterically whilst they die, leaving an eerie smile on their face. Nicholson’s maniacal portrayal of the Joker was legendary and even influenced Heath Ledger’s Joker.

What you’ll need


Jack Nicholson's Joker - Batman (1989) costume

Jack Nicholson’s Joker costume is very simple to put together. Pop on the orange shirt, wear the waistcoat over that with the buttons done up and wear the purple tailcoat open over that. Pair with some plaid trousers, smart shoes, a purple hat and gloves, and a black cane and you’re good to go!

  • Expert tip: Looking closely at Nicholson’s Joker, you can see he wears high waisted slacks made of a blue and purple plaid material. If you want to perfect the look, you can make these yourself. This 1940s men’s trousers pattern is perfect if made with some blue and purple plaid fabric.
  • Budget tip: Any purple blazer and any navy trousers can take the place of the tailcoat and plaid trousers. You can also skip the teal waistcoat if need be – the costume will still look great!


Nicholson’s Joker has slicked back green hair. You can easily achieve this using hair gel and the green wax dye recommended above.


If you’re cosplaying as the 1989 Joker, the makeup is simple but effective. Cover your face and neck with white face paint and use black face paint to paint on arched eyebrows. Put on red lipstick and use a lipstick brush to carefully paint on the iconic extended smile. Paint a defined line to extend your smile – going about halfway up the cheek.

  • Expert tip: Create Nicholson’s manic look by using red eyeliner on your lower eyelids.


Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?

As my plastic surgeon always said: If you gotta go, go with a smile!

I’ve been dead once already. It’s very liberating.

I have given a name to my pain, and it’s Batman.

Wait’ll they get a load of me!

Heath Ledger’s Joker – The Dark Knight (2008)

Heath Ledger's Joker - The Dark Knight (2008)

Heath Ledger brought the Joker to a new generation of Batman fans in the second instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy – The Dark Knight. Ledger’s Joker is a criminal mastermind and sadistic anarchist.

Despite only appearing in the film for a total of 25 minutes, Ledger’s charismatic yet deadly Joker is one of the best-remembered parts of Nolan’s trilogy – it even won him an Oscar.

What You’ll Need


Heath Ledger's Joker - The Dark Knight (2008) costume

Once again, this costume is very simple to put together. Ledger’s Joker wears a grey patterned shirt with a brown tie. This is then layered with a green waistcoat, a gray blazer, and a long dark purple coat. Ledger wears navy pants and a pair of beat-up brown boots.

  • Expert tip: Looking closely at Ledger’s outfit, the patterns and styles of his clothing are reminiscent of Victorian and Edwardian clothing. Hunt around thrift stores for an old-fashioned patterned shirt and tie and, ideally, a green suede waistcoat. If you can find brown boots with an upward twist at the toe, rather like clown shoes, it will be an even more accurate cosplay costume.
  • Budget tip: Whilst the Joker’s long purple coat is a must, any dark shirt with a waistcoat and a blazer will do the job if you’re on a budget!


Ledger’s Joker has stringy green hair. Using green wax dye, you can create this look easily. Add some extra regular wax to give your hair that greasy, unkempt look.


Like his unkempt hair, Ledger’s Joker looks like he hasn’t taken his makeup off in days. To create this effect, paint your face white and then spray water on your face. This should create a cracked effect in the white face paint. Then spray hairspray over your face. Next, paint the area around your eyes black and seal it in place using hairspray.

For the Joker’s red lips, use a red makeup crayon on your lips and draw an upward smile on your cheeks. Use the crayon to draw some thin vertical lines through the lines to create a scarred effect.

  • Expert tip: Before putting on any of the face paint, use some synthetic wax to create the scar tissue marks up your cheeks for a perfect Dark Knight Joker look.


Why so serious?

Do I look like a guy with a plan?

In their last moments, people show you who they really are.

Whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you…stranger.

This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object

Jared Leto’s Joker – Suicide Squad (2016)

Jared Leto's Joker - Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide Squad had a very different Joker from his predecessors. Covered in tattoos and with chrome teeth, Jared Leto’s Joker was closer to a brutal thug than the maniacal masterminds played by Nicholson and Ledger.

Leto’s Joker is a create cosplay costume if your friend or partner is dressing up as Harley Quinn. Leto was a controversial Joker, but that doesn’t make him any less fun to cosplay.

What you’ll need


Leto’s Joker look was defined by his tattoos. Picking up a temporary tattoo set that is specific to the tattoos he has in the film – such as “damaged” on his forehead and the classic Joker grin on the back of his hand – is the best way to recreate this look. With some black boots and blue pants, you’ll be pulling off Leto’s look.

You can also add a purple leather trenchcoat, a purple cane, and a chunky gold chain as extra touches on this Joker cosplay.

  • Expert tip: If you get a purple cane, look closely at the handle of Leto’s cane. It has a golden decoration on it. This can be achieved with some gold leaf sheets – simply cut out the pattern you want and attach them to the handle of the cane.
  • Budget tip: If you’re dressing up as Leto’s Joker, the purple leather trenchcoat, chain, and cane are not absolute necessities.


Jared Leto's Joker - Suicide Squad (2016) Hair

Leto’s Joker hairstyle is easy to achieve. Use the green wax dye to colour and slick back your hair. It should be much slicker than the unkempt hairstyles of Ledger and Phoenix’s Jokers.


Unless you have very pale skin, if you want to get the makeup right for Leto’s Joker you should use white face paint on your face and, if your up for it, get enough to cover any visible parts of your body with white paint too. This should be done before putting on temporary tattoos.

For the rest of the makeup, use black face paint around your eyes and dark red lipstick on your lips. No extended smile for Leto’s Joker. Instead, get some silver mouth grills to complete the look.

  • Expert tip: Use some red eyeliner around your eyes and pop in some light green contact lenses for an extra authentic look.


If you weren’t so crazy, I’d think you were insane…

I can’t wait to show you my toys.

I’m not gonna kill ya. I’m just gonna hurt ya… really, really bad.

The fire in my loins. The itch in my crotch. The one, the only, the infamous Harley Quinn!

Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker – Joker (2019)

Joaquin Phoenix's Joker - Joker (2019)

The most recent version of the Joker to hit the screens was Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar-winning performance in 2019. Joker, directed by Todd Phillips, offered an origin story for the Joker. This Joker is a failed stand-up comedian and party clown whose neurological disorder (which makes him burst out laughing and react strangely to others) and repeated torment and humiliation by those around him leads him down the path of crime and insanity.

What you’ll need


Phoenix’s Joker wears a green shirt under a yellow waistcoat, all underneath a red suit. This costume is very easily put together and can be completed with some brown shoes and fake cigarettes.


If your hair is long enough, you can use green dye to give your hair the green tint that Phoenix’s Joker has. Hair should be pushed back behind your ears and some extra regular wax will give it that unkempt look. If your hair is too short, you can pick up a green wig and style it in the same way.


Phoenix’s Joker has the most traditional ‘clown’ makeup of all the Jokers in this guide. Use white face paint to cover your face (though not entirely – leave a small bit of unpainted skin at the top of your forehead). Use red face paint to paint on the huge Joker smile, a red nose, and red eyebrows. Finally, use blue face paint to paint on blue triangles around your eyes and then draw a line from the bottom of each diamond.


Joaquin Phoenix's Joker - Joker (2019) Quotes

Forgive my laughter. I have a condition.

You wouldn’t get it.

All I have are negative thoughts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Which is the Easiest Joker to Cosplay as?

Answer: Leto’s Joker in Suicide Squad and Phoenix’s Joker in Joker are probably the easiest cosplay costumes to put together. Nicholson and Ledger’s Jokers, on the other hand, require a bit more attention to detail.

Question: Can I Buy a Ready-made Joker Cosplay Costume?

Answer: Yes, there are plenty of inexpensive ready-made Joker costumes for sale. Here are some recommendations:
Heath Ledger’s Joker – The Dark Knight (2008)
Jared Leto’s Joker – Suicide Squad (2016)
Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker – Joker (2019)

Question: How do I Make a kids’ Joker Costume?

Answer: Most of the tips in this guide will work for a kids’ Joker costume – though clothing will have to be kids’ size of course! You can also get ready-made kids’ Joker costumes such as this one or this one.


The Joker is an excellent character to cosplay as at your next event or dress up as for a costume party. His eccentric personality means, regardless of which Joker you go as, you’ll have loads of fun role-playing him.

This guide has given some ideas and tips for how to cosplay as the Joker on a budget and if you have more to spend. Once your costume is ready, prepare yourself to creep everyone out at your event or party and have some maniacal fun!

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