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Okay, I am counting down the 50 greatest showdowns that never happened, using AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Heroes and Villains list. After a few stinkers (freaking Silkwood!), we’re into the real dynamite. Last time, we had Keaton’s Batman losing to Hans Gruber and today, it’s…

#45. Tyrone Power in The Mark of Zorro vs. Jack Nicholson’s Joker

BACKGROUND

Mr. Power plays Don Diego, a wealthy Mexican aristocrat who goes bumming around Spain for a while. He comes back to California (while it was a Mexican province) and is shocked, just shocked to discover that the local politicians are abusing the people. In Mexico!

Diego, as one of the only people without a ridiculous accent, takes it upon himself to pretend to be a fop (the great-grandaddy of the metrosexual) so that no one suspects that he’s really El Zorro. You know, Robin Hood in black.

In Tim Burton’s Batman, we got an actual origin for the Joker. He’s Jack Napier, right-hand gangster to the local big boss. Said big boss is getting nervous about Napier and arranges to have him arrested at a nearby chemical plant. Batman shows and Napier falls into a big vat of chemicals that bleaches his skin and colors his hair and makes him crazy.

After a botched surgery leaves him looking like Pennywise, he decides to go on a revenge spree dressed like a clown because, you know, botched surgery.

This is exactly how Aunt Mildred responded to that bad botox.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

Zorro is an aristocrat, so he’s got all kinds of finances backing him. He’s got an underground hide-out, the black costume and he’s been trained in exotic forms of combat. So, you know, Batman but with less punching and more fencing. Power’s Zorro (which kind of sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon from the 90s) tops all other Zorros in precisely the respect of being a kick ass fencer. His climactic duel is generally considered one of the best fight scenes ever filmed.

Suck it, Wachowskis.

The Joker has a variety of clown-themed weapons, most notably his Smilex gas, but leaves most of the fighting to his henchmen.

METHODS AND MOTIVES

Zorro’s primary motivation is the love of his people. Also, the love of the local governor’s niece, Lolita.

Pictured: Pre-Nabokov Lolita. Damn you, Vladimir!

Zorro, for those who don’t sprechen the espanol, means “fox” and bespeaks our heroes cunning and powers of escape.

The Joker is insane and considers himself an avante garde artist, with death as his subject and you as his canvas.

THE SHOWDOWN

Round 1: Early 19th century California villa

Señor Napier, a glorified gangster risen to public office via corruption, is known as el Payaso due to his flamboyant wardrobe. His recent crimes have made him the next target of el Zorro. After exchanging barbs, over-polite wit for our hero and bad puns for the villain, Payaso sicks his guards on the masked man, who hands them their various rear-ends. The Joker’s refusal to take the situation seriously, along with his lack of helicopter and no safety from the Smilex, leaves him helpless and begging on his knees for his life. When Zorro grants him mercy, briefly turning his back, the Joker draws a pistol. Zorro spins dramatically and stabs him in the heart. As the Joker collapses, he squeezes the trigger and a “bang” flag comes out.

WINNER: Zorro

He's supposed to look girly, it's his cover.

Round 2: Gotham main street

The Joker’s throwing money left and right from his big parade float, in preparation to release the Smilex. Zorro comes out of the wood works to take on the Joker’s not gun-having henchmen, whom he dispatches with a wink and a barb. Since he isn’t relying on that POS Batjet, he gets to the Joker before the Joker gets to Señorita Vale and well before he can release the Smilex. However, the Joker does manage enough scampering about stalling to give the helicopter time to arrive and rescue him. Thwarted, but he lives to fight another day.

TIE

Yeeeeeeah, sequel!

Round 3: 19th century bell tower

Defenseless, Zorro encourages Joker to give up and turn himself in, but the villain goes for one last laugh and ends up falling to his death.

WINNER: Zorro

Winner SO Zorro

FINAL ANALYSIS

The trouble with Nicholson’s Joker is that he’s more mastermind and less combatant. While Batman, the detective, aims for the non-lethal solution, the mastermind can always bust out a new trick. However, Zorro has no problem stabbing you wherever the costume guy can hide a blood packet. It’s another victory of the original over the knock-off.

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