Joker (comics)

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The Joker on the cover of Batman: The Man Who Laughs.
Art by Doug Mahnke.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Batman #1
(Spring 1940)[1]
Created by Jerry Robinson (concept)
Bill Finger
Bob Kane
In-story information
Alter ego Unknown
Team affiliations Injustice Gang
Injustice League
The Society
Club of Villains
Notable aliases the clown prince of crime Red Hood, Jack, Joseph "Joe" Kerr, Clem Rusty, Mr. Rekoj
Altered in-story information for adaptations to other media
Alter ego Jack Napier — Batman (1989 film) and Batman: The Animated Series

The Joker is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain published by DC Comics and appearing as an enemy of Batman. Created by Jerry Robinson, Bill Finger and Bob Kane, the character first appeared in Batman #1 (Spring 1940).

Throughout his comic book appearances, the Joker is portrayed as a master criminal whose characterization has varied from a multiple murderer to a goofy trickster-thief. He is also collectively the archenemy of Batman, having been directly responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman's life, including the paralysis of Barbara Gordon and the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin.

Throughout the character's long history, there have been several different origin tales; they most commonly depict him as falling into a vat of chemical waste, which bleaches his skin and turns his hair green and his lips bright red, giving him the appearance of a clown.

The Joker has been portrayed by Cesar Romero in the Batman TV series, Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton's Batman, and Heath Ledger in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Larry Storch, Mark Hamill, Kevin Michael Richardson and Jeff Bennett have provided the voice for the character in animated form.

Wizard's list of the 100 Greatest Villains of All Time ranked the Joker as #1.[2]


[edit] Publication history

[edit] Creation

The Joker's first appearance in Batman #1 (Spring 1940)

Bill Finger, the co-creator of Batman, brought credited Batman creator Bob Kane a photograph of actor Conrad Veidt wearing make-up for the silent film The Man Who Laughs (1928), and the Joker was modeled on this photograph. Reference was made to this influence in the graphic novel Batman: The Man Who Laughs, a retelling of the first Joker story from 1940.

The credit for creation of the Joker is disputed. Kane responded in a 1994 interview to claims that Jerry Robinson created the concept of the character: "Bill Finger and I created the Joker. Bill was the writer. Jerry Robinson came to me with a playing card of the Joker. That's the way I sum it up. [The Joker] looks like Conrad Veidt — you know, the actor in The Man Who Laughs, [the 1928 movie based on the novel] by Victor Hugo. [...] Bill Finger had a book with a photograph of Conrad Veidt and showed it to me and said, 'Here's the Joker'. Jerry Robinson had absolutely nothing to do with it, but he'll always say he created it till he dies. He brought in a playing card, which we used for a couple of issues for him [the Joker] to use as his playing card".[3]

Robinson, whose original Joker playing card was on public display in the exhibition "Masters of American Comics" at the Jewish Museum in New York City, New York, from September 16, 2006 to January 28, 2007, and the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, Georgia from October 24, 2004 to August 28, 2005, has countered that:

Bill Finger knew of Conrad Veidt because Bill had been to a lot of the foreign films. Veidt ... had this clown makeup with the frozen smile on his face. When Bill saw the first drawing of the Joker, he said, 'That reminds me of Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs.' He said he would bring in some shots of that movie to show me. That's how that came about. I think in Bill's mind, he fleshed out the concept of the character.[4]

In his initial dozen or so appearances, starting with Batman #1 (1940), the Joker was a straightforward homicidal maniac, with a bizarre appearance modeled after the symbol of the Joker known from playing cards. He was slated to be killed in his second appearance,[5] but editor Whitney Ellsworth suggested that the character be spared. A hastily drawn panel, demonstrating that the Joker was still alive, was subsequently added to the comic.[6] For the next several appearances, the Joker often escaped capture but suffered an apparent death (falling off a cliff, being caught in a burning building, etc.), from which his body was not recovered.

In the 1950s and 1960s, following the imposition of the Comics Code Authority censorship board, the comic book's writers characterized the Joker as a harmless, cackling nuisance. He disappeared from Batman stories almost entirely when Julius Schwartz took over editorship of the Batman comics in 1964.

[edit] Revision by O'Neil and Adams

Batman #251 (Sept. 1973). Art by Neal Adams.

In 1973, the character was revived and profoundly revised in Batman stories by writer Dennis O'Neil and artist Neal Adams. Beginning in Batman #251, with "The Joker's Five Way Revenge", the Joker returns to his roots as a homicidal maniac who murders people on a whim, while enjoying battles of wits with Batman.[7] O'Neil said his idea was "simply to take it back to where it started. I went to the DC library and read some of the early stories. I tried to get a sense of what Kane and Finger were after."[8] Writer Steve Englehart and penciler Marshall Rogers, in an acclaimed run in Detective Comics #471-476 (Aug. 1977 - April 1978), which went on to influence the 1989 movie Batman and be adapted for the 1990s animated series,[9] added elements deepening the severity of the Joker's insanity. In the story "The Laughing Fish", the Joker is brazen enough to disfigure fish with a rictus grin, then expects to be granted a federal trademark on them, only to start killing bureaucrats who try to explain that obtaining such a claim on a natural resource is a legal impossibility.[10][11]

The Joker had his own nine-issue series during the 1970s in which he faces off against a variety of both superheroes and supervillains. Although he was the protagonist of the series, certain issues feature just as much murder as those in which he was the antagonist; of the nine issues, he commits murder in seven. The development of the Joker as a sociopath continues with the issues A Death in the Family[12] and The Killing Joke in 1988, redefining the character for DC's Modern Age after the company wide reboot following Crisis on Infinite Earths.[13][14]

[edit] Fictional character biography

[edit] Origin

Though many have been related, a definitive back-story has never been established for the Joker in the comics, and his real name has never been confirmed. He himself is confused as to what actually happened. As he says in The Killing Joke, "Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another... if I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice! Ha ha ha!"[13] In Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth written by Grant Morrison, it is said that the Joker may not be insane, but has some sort of "super-sanity" in which he re-creates himself each day to cope with the chaotic flow of modern urban life.[15]

The first origin account, Detective Comics #168 (February 1951), revealed that the Joker had once been a criminal known as the Red Hood. In the story, he was a scientist looking to steal from the company that employs him and adopts the persona of Red Hood. After committing the theft, which Batman thwarts, Red Hood falls into a vat of chemical waste. He emerges with bleached white skin, red lips, green hair and a permanent grin.[16][17]

The most widely cited backstory, which the official DC Comics publication, Who's Who in the DC Universe, credits as the most widely believed account, can be seen in The Killing Joke. It depicts him as originally being an engineer at a chemical plant who quits his job to become a stand-up comedian, only to fail miserably. Desperate to support his pregnant wife, Jeannie, the man agrees to help two criminals break into the plant where he was formerly employed to get to the card company next door. In this version of the story, the Red Hood persona is given to the inside man of every job (thus it is never the same man twice); this makes the man appear to be the ringleader, allowing the two criminals to escape. During the planning, police contact him and inform him that his wife and unborn child have died in a household accident.[13][14]

Stricken with grief, he attempts to back out of the plan, but the criminals strong-arm him into keeping his promise. As soon as they enter the plant, however, they are immediately caught by security and a shoot-out ensues, in which the two criminals are killed. As the engineer tries to escape, he is confronted by Batman, who is investigating the disturbance. Terrified, the engineer leaps over a rail and plummets into a vat of chemicals. When he surfaces in the nearby reservoir, he removes the hood and sees his reflection: bleached chalk-white skin, ruby-red lips, and bright green hair. These events, coupled with his other misfortunes that day, drive the engineer completely insane, resulting in the birth of the Joker. The authenticity of this background story is somewhat dubious however as the Joker claimed he has conflicting memories about his past and what drove him to madness.[13][14]

The story "Pushback" (Batman: Gotham Knights # 50-55) supports part of this version of the Joker's origin story. In it, a witness (who coincidentally turns out to be Edward Nigma) recounts that the Joker's wife was kidnapped and murdered by the criminals in order to force the engineer into performing the crime. In this version, the pre-accident Joker is called Jack.[18]

The Paul Dini-Alex Ross story "Case Study" proposes a far different theory. This story suggests that the Joker was a sadistic gangster who worked his way up Gotham's criminal food chain until he was the leader of a powerful mob. Still seeking the thrills that dirty work allowed, he created the Red Hood identity for himself so that he could commit small-time crimes. Eventually, he had his fateful first meeting with Batman, resulting in his disfigurement. However, the story suggests that the Joker retained his sanity, and researched his crimes to look like the work of a sick mind in order to pursue his vendetta against Batman. Unfortunately, the written report found explaining this theory is discovered to have been written by Dr. Harleen Quinzel, aka Harley Quinn, the insane sidekick/lover of the Joker, which invalidates any creditability the report could have in court.

The most recent origin retelling is featured in the second arc of Batman Confidential (#7-12), which re-imagines him as a gifted hitman. This origin once more states his name as Jack, and eliminates the Red Hood identity. Bored with his work, Jack becomes obsessed with Batman, and crashes a museum ball to attract his attention. In doing so, he badly injures Lorna Shore (whom Bruce Wayne is dating). An enraged Batman disfigures his face with a batarang as he escapes. In retaliation, a furious Batman sells Jack out to mobsters whom he had crossed, who torture Jack in a disused chemical plant. Turning the tables, Jack kills several of his assailants, but falls into an empty vat. Wild gunfire punctures the chemical tanks above him, and the resultant flood of toxins alters his appearance to that of the Joker or a clown.[19]

[edit] Criminal career

From the Joker's first appearance in Batman #1, he has committed crimes both whimsical and inhumanly brutal, all with a logic and reasoning that, in Batman's words, "make sense to him alone."[20] In his first appearance, the character leaves his victims with post-mortem smiles on their faces, a modus operandi that has been carried on throughout the decades with the concept of the character.

In Batman: The Killing Joke, the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon (then known as Batgirl and in later comics as Oracle), rendering her a paraplegic. He then kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and taunts him with enlarged photographs of his wounded daughter being undressed, in an attempt to prove that any normal man can go insane after having "one really bad day." The Joker ridicules him as an example of "the average man," a naïve weakling doomed to insanity. The Joker fails in his attempts to drive Gordon insane, because Batman saves the commissioner. Although psychologically traumatized, Gordon retains his sanity and moral code, urging Batman to apprehend the Joker "by the book" in order to "show him that our way works." After a brief struggle, Batman tries one final time to reach the Joker, offering to rehabilitate him. The Joker hesitates and considers the idea, but ultimately refuses, saying it's too late for him and that he's too far gone. The Joker shows his appreciation by sharing a joke with Batman which Batman actually laughs at. He then suggests that Batman may have also been driven mad by "one really bad day."[21]

The Joker murders Jason Todd, the second Robin, in the story A Death in the Family. Jason discovers that a woman who may be his birth mother is being blackmailed by the Joker. She betrays her son to keep from having her medical supply thefts exposed, leading to Jason's brutal beating by the Joker with a crowbar. The Joker locks Jason and his mother in the warehouse where the assault took place and blows it up just as Batman arrives. Readers could vote on whether they wanted Jason Todd to survive the blast. They voted for him to die, hence Batman finds Jason's lifeless body. Jason's death has haunted Batman ever since and has intensified his obsession with his archenemy.[12]

In the (non-continuity) one-shot comic Mad Love, Arkham psychiatrist Harleen Quinzel ponders whether the Joker may in fact be faking insanity so as to avoid the death penalty. As she tries to treat the Joker, he recounts a tale of an abusive father and runaway mother to gain her sympathy. She falls hopelessly in love with him and allows him to escape Arkham several times before she is eventually exposed. Driven over the edge with obsession, she becomes Harley Quinn.[22]

During the events of the No Man's Land storyline, the Joker murders Sarah Essen Gordon, Commissioner Gordon's second wife, during a confrontation over kidnapped infants. Gordon is shot as she saves one particular baby from falling to the cement floor. The Joker is shown frowning in the aftermath of the murder. He surrenders to Batman, but continues to taunt Gordon, provoking the Commissioner to shoot him in the kneecap. The Joker laments that he may never walk again, and then collapses with laughter as he "gets the joke" that Gordon has just avenged his daughter's paralysis.[23] While in transit back to Arkham, however, he takes control of the helicopter transporting him, and flies off to Qurac, where he becomes part of the government and helps to speed the country's decline into war with its neighbours. He is subsequently sent to New York as the country's ambassador, in which position he then threatens to use a neutron bomb to kill everyone in Manhattan if the United Nations doesn't withdraw its forces. Power Girl and Black Canary of the Birds of Prey capture him, however, and Barbara Gordon tricks him into telling them how to stop the attack, after which the Joker is sent to 'the Slab' "with the rest of the supercreeps." [24]

In Emperor Joker, a multi-part story throughout the Superman titles, the Joker steals Mister Mxyzptlk's reality-altering power, remaking the entire world into a twisted caricature, with everyone in it stuck in a loop. The Joker entertains himself with various forms of murder, such as killing Lex Luthor over and over and devouring the entire population of China. The conflict focuses on the fate of Batman in this world, with the Joker torturing and killing his adversary every day, only to bring him back to life and do it over and over again. Superman's powerful will allows him to fight off the Joker's influence enough to make contact with the weakened Mxyzptlk, who along with a less-powerful Spectre, encourages Superman to work out the Joker's weakness before reality is destroyed by the Joker's misuse of Mxyzptlk's power. As time runs out, Superman realizes that the Joker still cannot erase Batman from existence, as the Joker totally defines himself by his opposition to the Dark Knight; if the Joker can't even erase one man, how can he destroy the universe? The Joker's control shattered, Mxyzptlk and the Spectre manage to reconstruct reality from the moment the Joker disrupted everything, but Batman is left broken from experiencing multiple deaths. Superman has to steal Batman's memories so that he can go on, transferring them to the Joker and leaving him catatonic.[25]

In a company-wide crossover, Last Laugh, the Joker believes himself to be dying and plans one last historic crime spree, infecting the inmates of The Slab, a prison for super criminals, with Joker venom to escape. With plans to infect the entire world, he manipulates the super-powered inmates to allow a jailbreak, and sets them loose to cause mass chaos in their 'Jokerized' forms. The Joker is not cheered as, using the example of vandalized Easter Island statues, he does not believe that the altered inmates are being appropriately funny. The entire United States declares war on the Joker under the orders of President Lex Luthor; in response, Joker sends his minions to kill the President. Black Canary discovers that Joker's doctor modified his CAT scan to make it appear that he had a fatal tumor in an attempt to subdue him with the threat of death. Harley Quinn, angry at the Joker's attempt to make her pregnant without marrying her, helps the heroes create an antidote to the Joker poison and return the super villains to their normal state. Believing Robin had been eaten by Killer Croc in the ensuing madness, Nightwing eventually catches up with the Joker and beats him to death. To keep Nightwing from having blood on his hands, Batman resuscitates the Joker.[26]

In the Under The Hood arc (Batman #635-650), Jason Todd returns to life. Angry at Batman for failing to avenge his death, he takes over his killer's old Red Hood identity, abducts the Joker and attempts to force Batman to shoot him.[27]

At the conclusion of Infinite Crisis, the Joker kills Alexander Luthor, hero of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths and villain of Infinite Crisis for being left out of the Society.[28]

In Batman #655, a deranged police officer impersonating Batman shoots the Joker in the face leaving him physically scarred and disabled. After having undergone extensive plastic surgery and physical therapy, The Joker reappears in Batman #663 with a drastic new appearance, now permanently fixed with a Glasgow smile. While in intensive care at Arkham The Joker develops an immunity to several types of poison by methods of self administration. He then sends Harley Quinn to kill his former henchmen, instructing her use a more lethal version of Joker venom in order to signal his spiritual "rebirth", culminating with another rampage through Arkham Asylum and a failed murder attempt on Harley.

Salvation Run depicts the Joker as leading one of two factions of supervillains who have been exiled from Earth to a distant prison planet.[29] In issue six of the series, Joker engages Lex Luthor in an all-out brawl for power. Just as he gains the upper hand, however, the planet is invaded by Parademons; The Joker helps fight off the invasion and later escapes along with the rest of the surviving villains via a teleportation machine.

After returning to Earth, Joker is yet again a patient in Arkham Asylum. Batman visits him to ask him if he knows anything about the Black Glove, but Joker only responds by dealing a Dead man's hand.[30] During routine therapy, Joker is met by a spy for the Club of Villains who offers him a chance to join them in their crusade against Batman.[31] Joker later appears as a member of Libra's Secret Society of Super Villains.

[edit] Powers and abilities

The Joker commits crimes with comedic weapons (such as razor-sharp playing cards, acid-spewing flowers, cyanide pies, exploding cigars filled with nitroglycerin, harpoon guns that utilize razor-sharp BANG!-flags, and lethally electric joy buzzers) and Joker venom, sometimes referred to as "Joker Juice", a deadly poison that infects his victims with a ghoulish rictus grin as they die while laughing uncontrollably. The venom comes in many forms, from gas to darts to liquid poison, and has been his primary calling card from his first appearance. The Joker is immune to his venom, as stated in Batman #663 when Morrison writes that "being an avid consumer of his products, Joker's immunity to poisons has been built up over years of dedicated abuse".[32] He is highly intelligent and is skilled in the fields of chemistry and engineering, as well an expert with explosives, and creating deadly traps and other sorts of weapons. In a miniseries featuring Tim Drake, the third Robin, the Joker is shown kidnapping a computer genius, and admitting that he doesn't know much about computers, although later writers have portrayed him as very computer literate.

Joker's skills in unarmed combat vary considerably depending on the writer. Some writers have shown Joker to be quite the skilled fighter, capable of holding his own against Batman in a fight. Other writers prefer portraying Joker as being physically frail to the point that he can be defeated with a single punch. He is, however, consistently described as agile.

The Joker has cheated death numerous times, even in seemingly inescapable and lethal situations. He has been seen caught in explosions, been shot repeatedly, dropped from lethal heights, electrocuted, and so on, but he always returns to once again wreak havoc.[33][34]

Over several decades there have been a variety of depictions and possibilities regarding the Joker's apparent insanity. Grant Morrison's graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth suggests that the Joker's mental state is in fact a previously unprecedented form of "super-sanity," a form of ultra-sensory perception. It also suggests that he has no true personality of his own, that on any given day he can be a harmless clown or a vicious killer, depending on which would benefit him the most. Later, during the Knightfall saga, after Scarecrow and the Joker team up and kidnap the mayor of Gotham City, Scarecrow turns on the Joker and uses his fear gas to see what Joker is afraid of. To Scarecrow's surprise, the gas has no effect on Joker, who in turn beats him with a chair. In Morrison's JLA title, the Martian Manhunter, trapped in a surreal maze created by the Joker, used his shape-shifting abilities to reconfigure his own brain to emulate the Joker's chaotic thought patterns. Later in the same storyline, Martian Manhunter uses his telepathic powers to reorganize the Joker's mind and create momentary sanity, though with great effort and only temporarily. In those few moments, the Joker expresses regret for his many crimes and pleads for a chance at redemption.

In an alternate depiction of the Joker called Elseworlds: Distant Fires, the Joker is rendered sane by a nuclear war that deprives all super beings of their powers. In Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #145, the Joker became sane when Batman put him in one of Ra's al Ghul's Lazarus Pits after being shot, a reversal of the insanity which may come after experiencing such rejuvenation. However, the sanity, like the more commonplace insanity, was only temporary, and soon the Joker was back to his "normal" self.[35]

The character is sometimes portrayed as having a fourth wall awareness. In Batman: The Animated Series,[36] the Joker is the only character to talk directly into the "camera",[36] and can be heard whistling his own theme music in the episode adaptation of the comic Mad Love. Also, in the episode "Joker's Wild", he says into the camera,"Don't try this at home kids!"[37] In the Marvel vs DC crossover, he also demonstrates knowledge of the first Batman/Spider-Man crossover even though that story's events did not occur in the canonical history of either the Marvel or DC universe. On page five of "Sign of The Joker", the second half of the "Laughing Fish" storyline, the Joker turns the page for the reader, bowing and tipping his hat in mock politeness. On the official websites and associated promotional material for The Dark Knight, graffiti characteristic of the Joker can be found[38] On the website, hidden amongst laughter was the message "See you in December", referring to the release of the film's trailer.[39]

[edit] Character

The Joker has been referred to as the Clown Prince of Crime, the Harlequin of Hate, the Leonardo of the Larcenous Laugh and the Ace of Knaves. Throughout the evolution of the DC Universe, interpretations and incarnations of the Joker have taken two forms. The original and currently dominant image is of a fiendishly intelligent lunatic with a warped, sadistic sense of humor and a disregard for society's rules.[40][41] The other interpretation of the character, popular in the late 1940s through 1960s comic books as well as the 1960s television series, is that of an eccentric but harmless prankster and thief. Batman: The Animated Series blended these two aspects, although most interpretations tend to embrace one characterization or the other.[36]

The Joker's victims have included men, women, children, and even his own henchmen and other villains. In the graphic novel The Joker: Devil's Advocate, the Joker is reported to have killed well over 2,000 people. Despite having murdered enough people to get the death penalty thousands of times over, he is always found not guilty by reason of insanity.[42] In the Batman story line "War Crimes", this continued ruling of insanity is in fact made possible by the Joker's own dream team of lawyers. He is then placed in Arkham Asylum, from which he appears able to escape at will, going so far as to claim that it's just a resting ground in between his "performances".

The Batman has been given numerous opportunities and some temptation to end the Joker's regime, but has relented at the last minute. As an example, in one story line, the Batman threatens to kill the Joker, but then has the dawning epiphany in which he says that would make him "a killer like yourself!" Conversely, the Joker has given up many chances to kill the Batman because "[the Batman] is just too much fun!" The Joker's relationship with Batman is unique compared to other villains as he actually may see them as friends and in his warped sense of reality they are having fun with each other through their numerous bouts. This is a very recurring trait in incarnations of Joker throughout movies and TV shows such as The Batman[43] and The Dark Knight.[44]

The Joker is renowned as Batman's greatest enemy.[45] While other villains rely on tried-and-true methods to commit crimes (such as Mr. Freeze's freeze gun or Poison Ivy's toxic plants), Joker has a variety of weapons at his disposal. For example, the flower he wears in his lapel sprays (at any given time) acid, poisonous laughing gas, or nothing at all. In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and much earlier in "Dreadful Birthday, Dear Joker!" (Batman #321), the Joker has a gun which at first shoots a flag saying "BANG!", but then, with another pull of the trigger, the flag fires and impales its target.[34][46] His most recurring gadget is a high-voltage hand-buzzer, which he uses to electrocute his victims with a handshake. His capricious nature, coupled with his violent streak and general unpredictability, makes him feared by the public at large, other DC superheroes, and DC supervillains as well; in the Villains United and Infinite Crisis mini-series, the members of the villains' Secret Society refuse to induct the Joker for this reason, which backfires as the Joker, infuriated at being left out, attacks members of the Society; and ultimately kills the leader, Alexander Luthor. In the mini-series Underworld Unleashed, the Trickster remarks, "When super-villains want to scare each other, they tell Joker stories."

[edit] Other Incarnations

Another Joker appeared in the DC Comics imprint Tangent Comics. Tangent Comics is a line set in on an alternate earth. The heroes have the same names (Flash, batman, etc.) but their histories and powers are vastly different. This earth is now listed as earth-9.

The Joker of this Earth is a female hero who uses her array of jokes and comical devices to mock the tyrant Superman's authority. This Joker is actually three women--a student named Mary Marvel, an entrepeneur named Christina Zabundu, and a reporter, Lori Lemaris.

Mary is eventually captured by the evil Superman and tortured into giving up the names of the other two before she is killed. Lemaris is sent to prison, but Christina's fate is unknown. Later, Lemaris reclaims the mantle of the Joker in order to take down Superman.

[edit] In other media

[edit] Live-action

The Joker, as portrayed by (from left to right)
Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, and Heath Ledger.

Cesar Romero portrays the character in 22 episodes of the 1960s Batman television series. The Joker of this series is characterized by a cackling laugh and comedy-themed crimes that were silly in nature, such as turning the city's water supply into jelly, beating Batman in a surfing competition, and pulling off a bank heist based on a stand-up comedy routine. Romero refused to shave his distinctive mustache for the role, and it was partially visible beneath his white face makeup. Romero reprises his role in the 1966 film Batman.

The Joker is portrayed by Jack Nicholson in the 1989 film Batman. In the film, the character is a gangster named Jack Napier who is disfigured when he falls into a vat of chemicals during a confrontation with Batman (Michael Keaton). His trademark grin is the result of a botched attempt at plastic surgery. Driven insane by his reflection, he launches a crime wave designed to "outdo" Batman, who he feels is getting too much press. When Bruce Wayne confronts the Joker, he later recognizes him as one of the muggers who murdered his parents. In the flashback scene showing Napier's murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, Napier is played by Hugo E. Blick. Newsweek's review of the film stated that the best scenes in the movie are due to the surreal black comedy portrayed in this character.[47]

During the OnStar "Batman" ad campaign, the Joker appears in one commercial, played by Curtis Armstrong. Roger Stoneburner makes a cameo appearance as the character in an episode of Birds of Prey. Mark Hamill, who voiced the Joker in various animated shows throughout the 1990s, provides the Joker's voice in the scene, and he is the only one of the two actors to be credited.

In The Dark Knight (2008) the character is portrayed by Heath Ledger, who told Sarah Lyall of New York Times that he viewed that film's version of the Joker as a "psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy."[48] He is a terrorist-for-hire working for Gotham's various Mafia families who becomes obsessed with antagonizing Batman (Christian Bale). Costume designer Lindy Hemming described the Joker's look as being based around his personality, in which "he doesn't care about himself at all." She avoided his design being vagrant, but nonetheless it is "scruffier, grungier and therefore when you see him move, he's slightly twitchier or edgy."[49] Unlike most incarnations, where his appearance is a result of chemical bleaching, this Joker sports a Glasgow smile, and accentuates it through unevenly applied white, black, and red make-up. Accordingly, he still leaves his victims with post-mortem smiles throughout the film, but with the use of a knife and make-up rather than chemical manipulation. During the course of the film, he tells conflicting stories about how he acquired the scars, which involve child abuse and self-mutilation. He eschews gag-based weapons common to the character in favor of knives, firearms and an array of explosive devices. He does do occasional weapon gags though; the beginning on the film has him stick a grenade in a bank owner's mouth which turns out to be a smoke grenade. Jeff Labrecque writes that Ledger's "seething anarchist Joker makes Jack Nicholson's once-iconic dandy now seem as clownish as Cesar Romero's."[50] On February 22, 2009, Ledger posthumously won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.[51]

[edit] Animation

  • Two episodes of the 1972 series The New Scooby-Doo Movies featured a meeting with Batman; the Joker was one of the villains, with Storch reprising his role.
The Joker in the Batman: The Animated Series episode, Fear of Victory
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, which debuted in 1992, the Joker was voiced by Mark Hamill. In the feature film spin-off Batman: Mask of the Phantasm it is revealed that he was once a hitman for mobster Sal Valestra. His name, like in the 1989 movie, is mentioned as being Jack Napier, but later episodes offer the notion that this is merely an alias and that, like in the comics, his true identity is unknown.
  • Hamill reprises his role in many animated shows in the DC animated universe, such as Justice League, where his most prominent appearance is in the episode Wild Cards, in which he has planted an atomic bomb in Las Vegas and is also planning to unleash the psychic powers of Ace on the entire city to render everyone watching into a catatonic state. The plan backfires, and after a fight with Batman, the Joker is himself rendered temporarily catatonic.
The Joker as he appeared in The Batman
  • A different interpretation of the Joker appears in the animated series The Batman, voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. In his first few episodes, he sports a purple and yellow straitjacket, fingerless gloves, bare feet, wild green hair, red eyes, and what appears to be martial arts skills that makes him much different from his predecessors. Later in the series, he adopts the more traditional garb of a purple suit and spats, but still has wild hair and wears no shoes, save one episode. The Joker also moves and fights with a Monkey Kung Fu-like style, using his feet as dexterously as his hands, and often hangs from the walls and ceilings (as the series progresses, these abilities do not appear as much). He employs the signature Joker venom in the form of laughing gas. In the animated feature The Batman vs. Dracula, he is transformed into a vampire, with paler clothes, claws, fangs, and supernatural powers.
  • Mark Hamill reprises his role of Joker in the Robot Chicken episode "But Not In That Way." In a segment that parodies Arkham Asylum in the style of The Shawshank Redemption, the Joker is incarcerated there as Black Manta narrates how he did jokes at Arkham, fooled the sodomites, and even got things from Black Manta to prepare his escape. However, it was all a trick to pull a prank on Batman.
  • In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, a heroic counter-part of the Joker known as Red Hood appears in the episode "Deep Cover for Batman". The Joker made his debut on the show in the episode "Game Over for Owlman", a follow-up continuation of "Deep Cover," and is voiced by Jeff Bennett. Batman has no option but to team up with Joker to stop Owlman's crime spree when Owlman had been upstaging Joker. This version is very similar to the Golden Age version.[52]

[edit] Video games

The Joker appears in numerous Batman-related video games, often being the main antagonist. The Joker is a playable character in LEGO Batman: The Video Game,[53] where he leads a group of villains in a mission to spread Joker toxin to all of Gotham City. Game Informer writes that "this game is filled with cool playable characters...Nightwing, Joker, Killer Croc, Bane, Harley Quinn, and Man-Bat only scratch the surface of the game's catalog of great characters."[54] He has dual Uzis, and can kill enemies using a lethal joybuzzer, which can also be used to power generators. He has a helicopter with a grappling hook.

  • He is also a playable character in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, voiced by Richard Epcar,[55] in which he sports an array of magically endowed trick (but often lethal) weapons and fatalities and (storywise) he is also reasonably stronger due to the rage caused by the merging universes.

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. ^ Newsstand on-sale date April 25, 1940 per: "The first ad for Batman #1". DC Comics. Retrieved on 2006-10-23. 
  2. ^ Staff (July 2006). "Top 100 Greatest Villains". Wizard Magazine 1 (177). 
  3. ^ Entertainment Weekly writer Frank Lovece official site: Web Exclusives — Bob Kane interview
  4. ^ Newsarama (Oct. 18. 2006): "The Joker, the Jewish Museum and Jerry: Talking to Jerry Robinson" (interview)
  5. ^ Steranko, 1970
  6. ^ Batman From the 30s to the 70s, Bonanza books, 1970
  7. ^ Reinhart, Mark S. (2006-10-04). ""The Joker's 5 Way Revenge"". Batman on Film. Retrieved on 2008-05-03. 
  8. ^ Pearson, Roberta E.; Uricchio, William (1991). "Notes from the Batcave: An Interview with Dennis O'Neil." The Many Lives of the Batman: Critical Approaches to a Superhero and His Media'. Routledge: London. p. 18. ISBN 0-85170-276-7. 
  9. ^ "SciFi Wire (March 28, 2007): "Batman Artist Rogers is Dead"". Sci Fi. 2007-03-28. Retrieved on 2008-05-02. "Even though their Batman run was only six issues, the three laid the foundation for later Batman comics. Their stories include the classic 'Laughing Fish' (in which the Joker's face appeared on fish); they were adapted for Batman: The Animated Series in the 1990s. Earlier drafts of the 1989 Batman film with Michael Keaton as the Darky Knight were based heavily on their work" 
  10. ^ Waters, Cullen (2007-06-19). "“Detective Comics #475 (The Laughing Fish) and #476 (The Sign of the Joker)". The Writer Journal of Cullen M. M. Waters. Retrieved on 2008-05-03. 
  11. ^ "The Laughing Fish". Toon Zone. Retrieved on 2008-05-03. "The Joker tries to copyright his mutant fish." 
  12. ^ a b "Batman: A Death in the Family". DC Comics. Retrieved on 2008-05-02. 
  13. ^ a b c d Moore, Alan (w), Bolland, Brian (p,i). "Batman: The Killing Joke". The Killing Joke (1988). DC Comics. 1401209270.
  14. ^ a b c "The Killing Joke". Comic Vine. Retrieved on 2008-05-03. 
  15. ^ Morrison, Grant (w), McKean, Dave (p,i). Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. (1990). DC Comics. 0930289560 9780930289560.
  16. ^ Hunt, Matt. "How the Joker works". Howstuffworks. Retrieved on 2008-05-02. 
  17. ^ Phillips, Daniel (2007-12-14). "Why So Serious? - The Many Faces of Joker". IGN. Retrieved on 2008-05-02. "Sure, the basics have always been there: The Joker's maniacal grin, his green hair, red lips and purple suit." 
  18. ^ Devin Grayson, Scott Beatty, A.J. Lieberman (w), Dale Eaglesham, Paul Ryan, Roger Robinson, Al Barrionuevo (p), John Floyd (i). Batman: Gotham Knights. vol. 50-55, #74. (March 2000 - April 2006). DC Comics.
  19. ^ Diggle, Andy, Green, Michael, Tony Bedard (w), Portacio, Whilce, Friend, Richard, Cowan, Denys, Morales, Rags (p,i). "Batman Confidential: Lovers & Madmen (#7-12)". Batman Confidential: Lovers & Madmen (#7-12) vol. 7-12. (2006-Present). DC Comics.
  20. ^ Ramey, Bill (2007-03-11). "Comic Review: Batman #1, Part 2". Batman on Film. Retrieved on 2008-05-03. 
  21. ^ Moore, Alan. "Batman: The Killing Joke". DC Comics. Retrieved on 2008-05-03. 
  22. ^ Goldstein, Hilary (2005-05-24). "The Batman Adventures: Mad Love Review". IGN. Retrieved on 2008-05-03. 
  23. ^ "No Man's Land (comics)". Comic Vine. Retrieved on 2008-05-09. 
  24. ^ Birds of Prey vol. 1 #16
  25. ^ Loeb, Jeph, DeMatteis, J.M., Schultz, Mark, Kelly, Joe (w), McGuiness, Ed, Miller, Mike, Mahnke, Doug, Kano, Various others (p), Smith, Cam, Marzan, Jose, Nguyen, Tom, McCrea, John, Alquiza, Marlo, Durrurthy, Armando, various others (i). Superman: Emperor Joker. vol. Superman #160-161, Adventures of Superman #582-583, Action Comics 769-770, Superman: The Man of Steel 104-105, and Emperor Joker.. (January 2007). DC Comics. (224). 9781401211936.
  26. ^ "Joker: Last Laugh (comics)". Comic Vine. Retrieved on 2008-05-09. 
  27. ^ Batman: Under The Hood. (November 2005). DC Comics. (176). 9781401207564.
  28. ^ Johns, Geoff (w), Jimenez, Phil, Perez, George, Reis, Ivan, Bennet, Joe (p), Lanning, Andy, Perez, George, Reis, Ivan Ordway, Jerry, Parsons, Sean, Thibert, Art (i). "Infinite Crisis #7". Infinite Crisis #7 (June 2006). DC Comics. (31/6-7).
  29. ^ "SDCC '07: Bill Willingham on Salvation Run". 2007. Retrieved on 2008-05-03. 
  30. ^ DC Universe #0
  31. ^ Batman #676
  32. ^ Morrison, Grant (w), Van Fleet, John (p,i). "The Clown at Midnight". Batman#663 (April 2007). DC Comics. (22).
  33. ^ Ramey, Bill (2007-02-17). "Comic Review: Batman #663". Batman on Film. Retrieved on 2008-05-03. 
  34. ^ a b (2000). Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker [DVD]. Warner Bros..
  35. ^ Dixon, Chuck (w), Aparo, Jim, Cebollero, John (p,i). "Batman Legends of the Dark Knight (1989) 145". Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #145 (September 2001). DC Comics. (32).
  36. ^ a b c (2004). Batman: The Animated Series [DVD]. Warner Bros. Home Video.
  37. ^ "Mad Love". Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Butch Lukic, Koko Yang, Dong Yang, Shirley Walker. The New Batman Adventures. The WB. 1999-01-16. No. 21, season 2.
  38. ^ The Dark Knight DVD case. 2008. Warner Brothers Movie Studios, Inc.
  39. ^ The Joker Will See You in December! -
  40. ^ Lewis, Paul (2006). Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict. University of Chicago Press. pp. 31-34. ISBN 0226476995. 
  41. ^ Sabin, Roger (1996). Comics, Comix and Graphic Novels. Phaidon. p. 61. ISBN 0714830089. 
  42. ^ Goldstein, Hilary (2005-05-24). "The Joker: Devil's Advocate". IGN. Retrieved on 2008-05-03. 
  43. ^ In the movie Batman vs. Dracula when Joker is a vampire Batman gives him a pack of blood prompting the Joker to remark, "You complete me Batsy!"
  44. ^ At the climax the Joker says the above line ("You won't kill me out of some warped sense of justice and I won't kill you because you're just too much fun!) and wonders it they can share a prison cell together
  45. ^ "IGN: Joker Biography". IGN. Retrieved on 2008-05-18. 
  46. ^ Tipton, Scott (2004-01-07). "Batman, Part V -- You gotta be Joking". Comics 101. Retrieved on 2008-05-03. 
  47. ^ Kroll, Jack (1989-06-26), "The Joker is Wild, but Batman Carries the Night", Newsweek, 
  48. ^ Sarah Lyall (2007-11-04). "Movies: In Stetson or Wig, He's Hard to Pin Down" (Web). The New York Times, Movies ( Retrieved on 2008-08-18. 
  49. ^ Dan Jolin (January 2008). "Fear has a Face". Empire: pp. 87-88. 
  50. ^ Jeff Labrecque, "Review of The Dark Knight," Entertainment Weekly 1026 (December 19, 2008): 46.
  51. ^ "'Benjamin Button' leads Oscars with 13 nominations", Associated Press, 2009-01-22, 
  52. ^ "The World's Finest - Batman: The Brave and the Bold". 
  53. ^ Game Informer features a two-page gallery of the many heroes and villains who appear in the game with a picture for each character and a descriptive paragraph. See "LEGO Batman: Character Gallery," Game Informer 186 (October 2008): 93.
  54. ^ Ben, "LEGO Batman: Time to build something new," Game Informer 187 (November 2008): 116.
  55. ^ KHI and FXN - Otakon 2008 Feature!. Kingdom Hearts Insider. Retrieved on 2008-10-13.

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