Mark Hamill’s film career began with his iconic role in Star Wars: Episode IV. As Luke Skywalker, Hamill became a hero to millions of eager fans. Not wanting to get typecast, Hamill opted to do voice work following Episode VI, which lead him to his other most iconic role.
Batman: The Animated Series is a classic cartoon that still ranks among the best, and that’s in no small part thanks to Hamill’s engrossing performance as the Joker. Alongside Kevin Conroy’s Batman, Hamill’s Joker is one of the most iconic portrayals of the character across media because it so effortlessly captures the character as he is in the comics.
Hamill has had many roles outside of Star Warsand Batman over the years, including Fire Lord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender,Skips in Regular Show, and Skeletor in Masters of the Universe: Revelations. In live-action, Hamill has appeared in films including Body Bags and Kingsman: The Secret Service, and most recently he played a small role in Netflix’s hit show The Sandman. Over the years, Mark Hamill has been in a lot of movies of varying quality — here are the top ten according to Rotten Tomatoes.
10 Brigsby Bear – 82%
The offbeat comedy/drama Brigsby Bear, from SNL alums Kyle Mooney and Dave McCary, is a strange film that meditates on the healing power of creativity and the decay of nostalgia. Young adult James lives with his parents in a remote bunker, his only source of entertainment is tapes from an educational show called Brigsby Bear Adventures. But James is soon “rescued” from this life, and it’s revealed not only that those aren’t his parents, but that his favorite show isn’t real — it’s a fabrication created by James’s captors.
All James wants to do is return to this bear’s loving embrace, so he sets out to make a finale that will tie up the show’s loose ends and hopefully help him heal along the way. As the creator/father/captor Ted, Mark Hamill is superb, playing the role with his signature combination of creep and charm.
9 Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi – 83%
Often considered the weakest of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi couldn’t quite reach the cinematic heights set by its predecessors. That said, fans recognize that Episode VI is a great-looking movie that neatly ties up Luke Skywalker’s story. Of the film’s flaws, perhaps the biggest one is the similarity between this plot and that of A New Hope: it’s Death Star 2.0 as the Rebels must once again stop the Empire from creating one of the deadliest weapons in the galaxy.
What really shines in Return, though, is Luke’s emotional arc. Fresh off the revelation that Vader truly is his father, Luke must contend with questions of light vs. dark and come to terms with his lineage.
8 Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island – 88%
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is undoubtedly the best of the mystery-loving dog’s feature films, telling a new story with a darker tone that stood out against the 30-year backdrop of goofy spinoffs. Growing tired of guys in costumes, the members of Mystery, Inc. go their separate ways only to come together again for Daphne’s birthday.
The crew heads out on a road trip to find haunted locations for Daphne’s show, eventually arriving on Moonscar Island in New Orleans. But unlike the other mysteries the gang has investigated before, the haunted happenings on the plantation turn out to be far more real than any of them could have expected. Hamill plays one of the Island’s residents, the fisher Snakebite Scruggs. Though he comes off as hostile at first, Scruggs actually helps the gang out a few times during the movie — for his own benefit, of course.
7 The Big Red One – 90%
Premiering just two months after Hamill returned as Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back, The Big Red One showed the actor in a quite different role. Based on the experiences of writer/director Samuel Fuller, The Big Red One is an epic war film that follows Sergeant Fuller and his infantrymen during their experiences in World War II. Hamill plays Private Griff, a marksman who is morally conflicted about killing.
Fuller’s original cut of the film was 270 minutes long, which was cut to 113 minutes for its release. While Fuller didn’t like that cuts were made, he was still proud of the film that resulted. In 2004, a new 158-minute cut titled The Big Red One: The Restoration premiered at Cannes, with Roger Ebert stating, “it reveals a richness and pacing missing in the earlier version.” This longer, more epic cut of the film portrays Fuller’s raw, honest memories from the frontline of WWII.
6 Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind – 90%
In the early days of Hayao Miyazaki’s career, before Studio Ghibli was founded, he wrote and illustrated the manga Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, which he would go on to adapt into an animated film of the same name. The film takes place 1000 years after an apocalyptic war that annihilated civilization and devastated the ecosystem. The few surviving humans live in semi-hospitable pockets not yet touched by the toxic jungle.
Nausicaa, the princess of the Valley of the Wind, regularly visits the jungle and communes with the massive insects that inhabit it with the hope that one day her people and the environment can coexist in peace. But when warriors from the kingdom of Tolmekia arrive to take over the Valley and destroy the jungle, Nausicaa must do everything in her power to fight for what’s right. Hamill has a small role as the Mayor of Pejite, an antagonist working with the Tolmekians.
5 Star Wars: The Last Jedi – 91%
The Last Jedi is perhaps the most divisive of the Star Wars saga, with some hating and others loving director Rian Johnson’s fresh take on the beloved franchise. That includes the portrayal of Luke Skywalker, who has graduated from a fresh-faced student to a reluctant teacher.
Hamill’s performance is fantastic as always — you can tell that Luke is a character he cares about getting right. This grizzled, disillusioned Luke is a far cry from the hero we last saw partying with the Ewoks. Many fans, and famously Hamill himself, weren’t keen on this direction for Luke, feeling it was out of character for his heroic nature. While The Last Jedi may not be the story audiences imagined for the beloved character, just getting to see Luke in Star Wars for the first time since 1983 was, at the time, a treat in itself.
4 Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope – 93%
This is the film that started it all. A New Hope introduced the world to George Lucas’s epic space fantasy and the legendary battle between good and evil. At its center is Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, whose cheerful naïveté leads him to become the hero he was born to be.
Star Wars was Hamill’s first film after several years of television roles, and it’s fascinating to go back and watch the actor he was vs the actor he would become. Surprisingly enough, many studios didn’t want Star Wars — sci-fi wasn’t a hot commodity in the mid-70s, and some of them didn’t think Lucas had the chops to pull it off. But pull it off he did; Star Wars was a box office smash and still holds a place as one of the most profitable movies in cinema history.
3 Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back – 94%
Arguably the strongest film of the Star Wars franchise, The Empire Strikes Back changed the game. As a follow-up to the immensely successful A New Hope, Episode V took the adventurous space opera to a darker place. Roger Ebert put in best in his review, stating that Empire’s emotional qualities grant a “mythic quality” to the series, acting as the “heart” of the original trilogy.
It’s in this movie that the fairly flat characters introduced in A New Hope get rounded out, especially Luke. Throughout his journey, Luke becomes the undeniable hero, his pure intent challenged by the realities of a war that hits closer to home than even he realizes.
2 Castle in the Sky – 100%
The first feature film from the acclaimed Studio Ghibli, Castle in the Sky set the formula for fan favorites like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. Set in an imaginary country at the end of the 19th century, Castle in the Sky tells the story of two children searching for the fabled floating city of Laputa.
But getting there won’t be easy as they fight off nefarious sky pirates, secret agents, and government officials. Leading the agents is Hamill’s Muska, a diabolical and manipulative colonel seeking Laputa’s power for himself. As always, Hamill plays the villain perfectly, moving from sweet to menacing at the drop of a hat.
1 Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (100%)
Many people have played the Joker over the years, and Mark Hamill’s performance as the Clown Prince of Crime is consistently a favorite. And of the dozens of times Hamill’s played the Joker, perhaps none are as iconic as Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
Batman Beyond takes place in the year 2039 when Terry McGinnis has taken over the cowl under the tutelage of an aging Bruce Wayne. When the Joker, long thought dead, returns to Gotham, Terry must learn the secret of the clown’s heinous final crime to save the city. The film is an early example of Hamill taking his character to an extremely dark place. The Joker may be crazy in the show, but Return takes it up a notch to reveal how truly sadistic he can be.