All this year, to mark the countdown to our 21st birthday on August 18, we’ve been dropping video interviews that go behind the scenes of 21 of the most memorable movie moments of the past 21 years. We spoke to George Miller about Furiosa’s big moment in Fury Road, and Patty Jenkins about Wonder Woman’s walk into No Man’s Land; Sam Raimi explained how Tobey Maguire almost drowned kissing Kirsten Dunst, upside-down, in the rain, and Haley Joel Osment shared how his “I see dead people” moment was meant to be a big old gore fest.
After we released our final video in early August, we asked RT fans to have their say and name the single most memorable movie moment of the past 21 years. Almost 25,000 people voted and the winner – by a serious margin – was “The Joker” from The Dark Knight.
The specific moment we focused on was the moment we first saw Heath Ledger as the Joker, not in the actual film, but in the pre-release marketing: it was a game-changing image release that turned the tide in fan sentiment about Ledger’s casting and gave us our first indication of how incredible, and incredibly dark, Ledger’s take on the character would be. In our video, makeup artist John Caglione Jr. and Susan Bonds, CEO of 42 Entertainment, break down how the Joker’s look was created and how they first shared it with the world.
In a sense though, Ledger’s entire performance was a “moment” – one that changed the course of what people thought possible in superhero films and one that remains the benchmark against which all movie villains are compared to this day. It was bigger than a single scene, or a single line, or a look, or a bit of action – which is why we titled the moment simply, “The Joker.” And it seems fans agreed, if the results of our poll are anything to go by.
Other movie moments made a serious impact over the years, too: Thanos’s universe-halving Snap was the second-highest vote getter, followed by “I see dead people” from The Sixth Sense, the opening sequence of Up, and the moment the Avengers assemble during the Battle of New York in 2012’s Avengers.
The full list of the 21 Most Memorable Movie Moments from the last 21 years is below, ranked by public vote. You can watch every video in the compilation above, or check out the individual videos and extended interviews with actors and filmmakers.