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The Joker is a fictional DC Comics supervillain, widely considered to be Batman's main archenemy. Created by Batman co-creator/writer Bill Finger and artist Jerry Robinson (while on staff under Batman co-creator/artist Bob Kane), the Joker first appeared in Batman #1 (1940).
The Joker's history prior to his first clash with Batman and the Gotham police force is an enigma, and even he has difficulty remembering the details of his previous life, filtered as they are through his insanity. One of the Joker's many memories (as revealed in Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's "The Killing Joke"; 1988) suggests that he was once a failed comedian, a sad, pathetic loser and widower who was conned into accompanying some hoods on a robbery that led them through a chemical factory. As the account continued (as taken from Bill Finger's original origin), his accomplices were gunned down by the police, and the man who would become the Joker, disguised under a red hood, dived through a vat of chemical wastes in order to avoid capture by the Batman. Washed out into the river, he made his way to shore only to discover that the strange mixture of chemicals had bleached his skin chalk-white, had made his hair green, and had turned his smile into a permanent, frightful grin. The shock of the transformation hurled him far past the edge of sanity . . . and the Joker was born.
Modeled after Conrad Veidt’s character in the 1928 film The Man Who Laughs (which was based on a novel by Victor Hugo), the Joker is a prank-obsessed criminal with a clown-like appearance, who likes to kill people with fatal hilarity. Writers have alternatively portrayed him as a goofy trickster-thief or as a homicidal psychopath with a warped sense of humor. Recent writers of the Batman comic book series have preferred the latter, and the Joker has been responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman's life, such as the murder of Jason Todd, the successor to the mantle of Robin after Dick Grayson, the injury/paralysis of Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl/Oracle, and the death of Sarah Essen, Jim Gordon's wife.
The Joker has been featured throughout the Batman saga, and has been an enemy of the Caped Crusader in most adaptations in other media. Interpretations of the Joker that have made him well-known to the general public include Cesar Romero's in the 1960s Batman television series and Jack Nicholson's in the 1989 feature film.
The Joker (as played by Nicholson) ranks number 45 in the American Film Institute's list of the top 50 film villains of all time.
The Joker is also referred to as the Clown Prince of Crime and the Harlequin of Hate. Throughout the evolution of the Batman universe, interpretations and incarnations of the Joker have taken two forms. The original and currently dominant image is of a sadistic, fiendishly intelligent psychopath with a warped sense of humor, deriving pleasure from inflicting grotesque, morbid death and terror upon innocent people. In this interpretation, he is a textbook example of antisocial personality disorder; in a sense he is Charles Manson cursed with a clown's grinning face and a grotesque sense of showmanship. The other interpretation of the character, popular in the late 1940s through 1960s comic books as well as the 1960s television series, is of an eccentric but harmless prankster and thief. The 1990s cartoon Batman: The Animated Series is notable for blending these two aspects, but most interpretations tend to embrace one characterization or the other.
Part of the Joker's prominence among Batman's enemies likely derives from the fact that he, more than any other villain, represents the antithesis of Batman's personality and methods. Batman is almost always depicted, even in the campy 1960s television show, as a serious, stoic man who pursues his campaign against crime with utter earnestness and a disciplined, focused mind. In the darker portrayals of the comics and more recent films and television, the Dark Knight is further depicted as a brooding and humorless avenger who pursues justice as an enigmatic shadow striking from the dead of night. The Joker, by contrast, is literally a killer clown, driven by a disordered mind to pursue destruction and chaos with as much panache as possible. His appearance and actions suggest the bright and garish pomp and circumstance of the circus. Nightwing has stated that he believes the Joker and Batman exist because of each other, that Batman represents order and Joker the chaos that challenges it. Like Superman and Lex Luthor, it has been suggested that Batman and the Joker need each other.
The Joker's victims have included men, women, and even children. An issue of Hitman in 1996 stated that the Joker had once gassed an entire kindergarten class. While not stated, it is widely believed that his personal toll of victims is well into three figures, with it being stated in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns that in his life he has at least murdered 600. Despite the fact he has killed enough people to get the death penalty hundreds of times over, he is always found not guilty by reason of insanity. He is then placed in Arkham Asylum, which he appears able to escape from seemingly at will. In fact, it is hinted the Joker will deliberately allow himself to be captured so he can "unwind" at Arkham before his next scheme.
In the 1996 special issue "Devil's Advocate," the District Attorney of Gotham City used a once-in-a-lifetime loophole to have the Joker found guilty and sentenced to death. However, Batman found the fact that the Joker did not take credit for the crime in question out of character, and soon discovered the bitter irony: the Joker was about to be executed for the one series of murders he didn't commit. The Joker was in the electric chair and about to be killed when Batman managed to bring the true guilty party to justice.
There have been times when Batman has been tempted to put the Joker down once and for all, but has relented at the last minute. After capturing the Joker in one story, he threatens to kill his old foe, but then says "But that would give you the final victory, making me into a killer like yourself!" (However, in the Hush storyline, Batman was perfectly willing to kill the Joker after he had apparently murdered Bruce Wayne's childhood friend Thomas Elliot. Only Commissioner Gordon's interference stopped him.)
Batman and Joker also seem to have an odd respect for one another. Despite his desire to kill Batman, Joker considers him a worthy opponent. Batman has also saved Joker's life on numerous occasions, even rescucitating him after an enraged Nightwing beat him nearly to death following the events of The Joker's Last Laugh storyline. Batman may feel responsible for creating Joker, forcing Red Hood into the chemicals, and thus "ruining" the man's life.
The Joker's obsession with Batman, and vice versa, is somewhat unique to other superheroes and villians. In the movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Terry McGinnis, the successor to the mantle of Dark Knight, said to the Joker that the only real reason he kept coming back was because he never got a laugh out of the original Batman. The Joker has also said that without Batman, his life is nothing. In The Dark Knight Returns a catatonic Joker becomes animated only after seeing a police report that Batman has returned to action, setting in motion a final confrontation. In an episode of Batman: The Animated Series entitled "The Man Who Killed Batman," when a young upstart in the crime syndicate appeared to have killed Batman, Joker held his own funeral for his old foe at the very place he had his accident (see "Character history"), and nailed the hapless crook in the coffin and dropped it in a vat of acid. In "Going Sane," a story featured in Legends of the Dark Knight, the Joker thought he finally succeeded in his ultimate goal of killing Batman, reverted to sanity, and got plastic surgery in order to look like a normal human being. He tried to lead a normal, honest life, donning the name Joseph Kerr (a pun on his criminal moniker) and engaging in a small romance with a neighbor. Normalcy did not last for the Joker, however, as he discovered Batman to be alive; he once more went insane, mutilated himself to restore his trademark white skin, green hair and crimson lips, and resumed his quest to destroy Batman.
[image]http://en.wikipedia.org/skins-1.5/common/images/magnify-clip.png[/image]The Joker#1.Art by Irv Novick.In a 1970s comic, the Joker accidentally knocked Batman out and considered unmasking and killing him. He decided not to, however, his logic being that his victory over Batman had to be public and astounding, rather than a random accident. In another issue, the Joker threatened to kill crime boss Rupert Thorne if he uncovered Batman's secret identity. Thorne had Hugo Strange discover Batman's identity, but, when Strange would not tell him who Batman was, had him killed. The Joker, who was also bidding for Batman's identity alongside the Penguin, told Thorne he was lucky Strange took whatever secrets he held with him to the grave; he explained that he was destined to defeat Batman in a manner worthy of his criminal reputation, and that no one else had the right. During Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, the Joker tortured Robin into revealing Batman's identity, but found this information "sadly anti-climatic," as he now thinks Batman is "a child in a playsuit crying for Mommy and Daddy."
The Joker is renowned as Batman's most unpredictable foe. While other villians 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. Sometimes he commits crimes just for the fun of it, while on other occasions it is part of a grand scheme; Batman has been noted to say that the Joker's plans make sense to him alone.
[image]http://en.wikipedia.org/skins-1.5/common/images/magnify-clip.png[/image]The Joker, before the accident, with his wife. Art by Brian Bolland from The Killing Joke.The definitive origin and actual name for the character was never established in the comics, although in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #50, a retelling of the Joker's origin (including revealing exactly who invented the gas that gives its victims the Joker's telltale grin), his cousin, Melvin Reipan, an idiot savant, presumably thinks his first name is Jack; Melvin calls the Joker "Cousin Ja-" before he cuts him off, saying that he's now "Cousin Joker."
As revealed in a 1951 story, the Joker was originally a criminal who called himself the "Red Hood." In an encounter with Batman, he jumped into a pool of chemicals to escape pursuit. The chemicals dyed his skin white, his lips red, and his hair green, giving him the appearance of a ghastly clown.
This origin was greatly expanded upon in the 1988 graphic novel, Batman: The Killing Joke written by Alan Moore. In that story, the Joker was an unnamed engineer who quit his job at a chemical company to become a stand-up comedian, only to fail miserably. Desperate to support his pregnant wife, he agreed to guide two criminals into the plant for a robbery. During the planning, the police came and informed him that his wife had just died in a household accident. Grief-stricken, the engineer tried to withdraw from the plan, but the criminals strong-armed him into keeping his commitment to them.
At the plant, the criminals made him don a special mask to become the infamous Red Hood. It gave his vision a red tint which caused his view of the plant to look like what is suggested to be hell; this may have magnified the impact of what occurs later. Unknown to the engineer, this was simply a way to implicate any accomplice as the mastermind of a crime to divert attention from themselves. Once inside, they almost immediately blundered into security personnel and a violent shootout and chase ensued. The criminals were gunned down and the engineer found himself confronted by Batman, who was investigating the disturbance.
In panicked desperation, the engineer fell into a toxic waste vat and was swept through a pipe leading to the outside. It is vague as to whether he jumped, fell by accident, or was struck by Batman. Outside, he discovered, to his horror, that the chemicals permanently stained his skin chalk white, his lips ruby red and his hair bright green. This turn of events, compounded by the man's misfortunes on that one day, caused him to go completely insane and resulted in the birth of the Joker.
[image]http://en.wikipedia.org/skins-1.5/common/images/magnify-clip.png[/image]The Joker emerges from the vat and goes insane, in a scene from The Killing Joke. Art by Brian Bolland.In a 2004 comic book (Batman: Gotham Knights #54), it was heavily implied that much of the above origin was in fact true (and that the Joker's first name was Jack), with details of it being backed up by a witness to the death of the Joker's wife. In this version, however, his wife was kidnapped and murdered by those same gangsters, in order to force his cooperation in the Red Hood robbery. The witness was none other than Edward Nigma, who would eventually become the Riddler.
In the short story "On a Beautiful Summer's Day, He Was" by Robert McCammon, featured in the anthology The Further Adventures of the Joker, the Joker is suggested to have been born a monster, not made one by bad luck. The story concerns him as a young boy who derives pleasure from killing small animals (considered the hallmark sign of a budding sociopath) and collecting their bones. The story notes that his father is also insane and, in a chilling scene, beats his mother while the boy listens through the wall, grinning. The end of the story has him graduating to murder, killing a neighborhood boy who discovers his makeshift graveyard. The story identifies the Joker's last name as Napier.
In "Best of All," another story in the anthology, the Joker murdered his abusive father as a child. His mother was revealed to be Batman's old friend and confidante Leslie Thompkins, which he revealed to Batman to torment him.
Any recountings of the Joker's origin are largely unreliable, however, as they are taken directly from his own memories, and as he himself puts it in The Killing Joke, "I'm not exactly sure what happened. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another... If I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!"
Powers and abilities
The Joker commits crimes with countless "comedic" weapons (such as razor sharp playing cards, acid-spewing flowers, and lethally electric joy buzzers) and Joker venom, a deadly poison that infects his victims with a ghoulish rictus grin as they die while laughing uncontrollably (although some versions cause immediate death, without the painful laugh spasms beforehand.) This venom comes in many forms, from gas to darts to liquid poison, and has been his primary calling card from 1940 till the present. In the 1989 movie, it was dubbed "Smilex." The Joker is also very skilled in the field of chemistry, and is no slouch at hand-to-hand combat. Additionally, being 6'5" and 192 pounds, the Joker is more intimidating than the average man.
The Joker's unpredictability has been one of his best advantages. As with the example of his lapel pin, the Joker's weapons vary and no one can ever be sure what it really is. In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, the Joker has a gun which at first shoots a dart saying "BANG!", but then with another pull of the trigger, the dart fires (in the censored version, the gun shot out laughing gas instead of the dart.)
It is often implied that the Joker was transformed both physically and mentally by the accident in the chemical plant. Batman: The Animated Series goes so far as to imply that exposing others to the same process will grant them similar powers; specifically, this occurs in the episode "Beware the Creeper," which created a new version of the DC Comics character The Creeper. In Elseworlds: Distant Fires, the Joker is rendered sane by a nuclear war which deprives all super beings of their powers (though contrarily, in Act of God, another Elseworlds storyline, a more mysterious yet widespread "de-powering" event takes place which leaves the Joker unaffected.)
In an Alex Ross-penned story in Batman Black & White Volume 2, psychiatrists ponder that perhaps the Joker is sane and fakes insanity to keep himself out of prison. It is suggested that he is completely in control of himself but is a savage sadist, and uses his disfigurements as an excuse to terrify and murder his victims. Ironically, the doctor who came up with this theory was Harlene Quinzel, whom Joker later transformed into to his insane accomplice, Harley Quinn.
Grant Morrison's graphic novel Arkham Asylum suggests that the Joker's mental state is in fact a previously unprecedented form of 'super-sanity', a new mode of perception to cope with the insanity of the times.
[image]http://en.wikipedia.org/skins-1.5/common/images/magnify-clip.png[/image]Spider-Man meets the Joker.Whether or not he has genuine superpowers, the Joker has always been portrayed as extremely intelligent. At one point, he has even been aware of being a comic book character. In the Marvel vs DC miniseries, super beings from Marvel and DC Comics appeared in each other's universes, confused and unrecognized by the native population. However, upon encountering the Marvel character Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) in Gotham, the Joker spoke to him in familiar terms and even commented on his costume change, an oblique reference to an older crossover tale which had subsequently been assumed to have been retcon-ed out of existence.
Batman: Dark Victory implies that he knows who the Hangman killer is, long before Two-Face, the police, or even Batman find out. It is implied that he withheld the information in hopes that he'd get his chance to kill the Hangman himself and get rid of "the competition"; in The Long Halloween, the precursor to Dark Victory, he remarked that "this town isn't big enough for two homicidal maniacs."
During the Knightfall saga, Scarecrow and the Joker team up and kidnap the mayor of Gotham City. After Batman rescues the mayor, Scarecrow turns on the Joker and uses his fear gas to see what Joker is afraid of. To Scarecrow's surprise, however, the gas has no effect on Joker, who, in turn, beats Scarecrow with a wooden chair. This suggests that, due to his insanity, the Joker literally has no fear, or at least has no hidden demons.
Another of the Joker's "super powers" is his ability to endlessly cheat death. Even when he has been caught in explosions, he has returned without a scratch. In Batman: A Death in the Family, after Joker attacks the United Nations, Batman chases him to a helicopter. During the ensuing battle, Joker is shot in the chest by accident. The helicopter crashes and explodes, with the Joker still inside. Even with Superman seeking his body, Batman knew he would never find him. In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Andrea Beaumont captured and tried to kill the Joker as revenge for killing her father. Even while she held him down in the midst of an explosion, however, he survived. In the Batman/Superman crossover episode of Superman: The Animated Series, the Joker was seemingly killed in Lex Luthor's private jet when it exploded, and yet no remains were found. Similarly, in a Batman/Captain America crossover episode, an atomic bomb exploded in a plane with both the Joker and Red Skull aboard. The two superheroes joked that it would not be the last time they would see their greatest enemies.
In his initial dozen or so appearances, starting with Batman #1 (1940), the Joker was a straightforward mass murderer, much like a typical Dick Tracy villain, with a bizarre appearance modeled after the playing card. He was a master thief who liked to leave smiling corpses in his wake. In these early appearances, he would steal any number of things, but he seemed to have a particular fondness for jewels. It is of note that in his second appearance ("The Joker Returns", also in Batman #1), the Joker was actually slated to be killed off, with the final page detailing the villain accidentally stabbing himself and lying dead as Batman and Robin run off into the night. Fortunately, Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson quickly changed their minds and added a panel implying that the Joker was still alive.
For the next several appearances, the Joker would often escape capture but suffer an apparent death (falling off a cliff, being caught in a burning building, etc.), from which there would be no body and thus he would quickly recover. In these first dozen adventures, the Joker killed close to three dozen people, which was impressive for a villain who didn't use giant robots, mutant monsters, space lasers, or the like. This was the status quo from 1940 until around 1942. Ironically, the turning point came in "Joker Walks the Last Mile" (Detective Comics #64), where the Joker was actually sentenced and executed via the electric chair, only to immediately come back to life.
Alas, while the Joker was back, he was decidedly less deadly than ever. At that point, the editors decided that only one-shot villains should commit murder, so as to not make Batman look impotent in his inability to punish such recurring foes as the Joker or the Penguin. As the Batman comics as a whole softened their tone, the character's emphasis was soon turned to jokes and comedy-themed crimes, and the Joker became a harmless, cackling nuisance. He quickly became the most popular villain and was used almost constantly during the Golden Age of Comic Books. The use of the character lessened somewhat by the late 1950s and disappeared almost entirely when Julius Schwartz took over editorship of the Batman comics in 1964.
[image]http://en.wikipedia.org/skins-1.5/common/images/magnify-clip.png[/image]Batman #251, September 1973. Art by Neal Adams.In 1973, the character was revived and profoundly revised in the Batman comic stories by Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams. Beginning in Batman #251 with the story "The Joker's Five Way Revenge", the Joker became a homicidal maniac who casually murdered people - even his own henchmen - on a whim, but enjoyed the battle of wits with Batman. This take on the character has been predominant since. Steve Englehart, in his short but well-received run on the book, added elements deepening the severity of the Joker's insanity with the Joker's desire to trademark fish subjected to his toxins.
The character even had his own nine-issue series during the 1970s where he faced off against a variety of foes, both superheroes and supervillains. Although he was the hero of the series, certain issues had as high a body count as stories in which he was the antagonist. Of the nine issues, he committed murder in seven of them.
[image]http://en.wikipedia.org/skins-1.5/common/images/magnify-clip.png[/image]The Joker and Harley Quinn. Art by Alex Ross.A major addition to the character was the introduction of Harley Quinn. Originally introduced in Batman: The Animated Series, Quinn is an insane psychiatrist who fell hopelessly in love with the Joker in Arkham Asylum and now serves as his loyal, if daffy, sidekick, costumed in a skintight harlequin suit. Their relationship often resembles that of an abusive domestic relationship, with Joker insulting, hurting, or even attempting to kill Quinn, who always comes back for more. She was popular enough to be integrated into the comics in 1999 and a modified version of the character (less goofy but still criminally insane and utterly devoted to the Joker) was also featured on the short-lived live-action TV series Birds of Prey.
Appearances in other media
In the animated series
[image]http://en.wikipedia.org/skins-1.5/common/images/magnify-clip.png[/image]The Joker as he appeared in Batman: The Animated Series. His voice was provided by Mark Hamill.Batman: The Animated Series—mainly in the episode "Beware the Creeper" and the spin-off movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm—offers another version of the Joker's history: he is portrayed as a former anonymous hitman for the Mafia with ties to the Beaumont family, later responsible for the death of Carl Beaumont. As in the 1989 movie, he was not wearing any disguise when he made his fateful attempt to rob the chemical factory. Unlike the movie, however, no attempt has been made to connect him with the death of Bruce Wayne's parents (although "Jack Napier" has been mentioned as one of the hitman's aliases.) He was also the main villain of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, in which he returns to Gotham after 40 years, during which he was believed to have died. The movie, a Batman Beyond spinoff, was heavily influenced by A Death in the Family and The Killing Joke.
On B:TAS, the Joker made easily the most appearances of any villain in Batman's rogues' gallery, helping solidify his presence as the Batman's arch-foe. The relationship between Batman and Joker in the animated universe is one of a constant back-and-forth as to who is really angering the other. Often, it is the Joker that aggravates Batman, with the Joker thrilling at Batman's glowering inappreciation of his "comedy". Once in a while, though, Batman or Robin manages to get the upper hand, as in "Mad Love" or "Harlequinade", finally provoking the Joker into losing his cool. (It is this kind of provocation that ultimately allows Terry to succeed against the Joker in Return of the Joker.) Like his comic book persona, the Joker in the animated series is obsessed with Batman; he often says he is the only one who "deserves" to take out Batman, halting those who try (like Harley Quinn in "Mad Love") or punishing those who he thinks beat him to it (Sidney Dupree in "The Man Who Killed Batman"). In fact, when the Joker finally joins several supervillains as a group (in the Justice League episode "Injustice for All"), he does so by proposing a plot that allows Batman to be removed from the other supervillains so that the Injustice Gang can kill the rest, while he gets Batman all to himself. When he offers his services, ringleader Lex Luthor wants nothing to do with him, but Joker says he can offer what none of the other villains can: "I know how the Bat thinks." With the gang agreeing to cooperate, The Joker shows his usefulness by arranging a trap that enables them to capture Batman. When the gang does have Batman bound, the Joker is amazed that they're leaving him alive, knowing he'll break free which he eventually does.
Mark Hamill is the most famous, and most acclaimed, actor to supply the character's voice, in Batman: The Animated Series and its various spin-offs, including Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Justice League and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Hamil even provided the voice to the Joker on a special feature to the DVD of Batman, the 1989 film.
Roger Stoneburner had a cameo appearance as the character in an episode of Birds of Prey where the events of Batgirl getting caught in the crossfire between him and Batman occur, but the voice was done by Hamill (who was the only one to claim the credit).
The Bruce Timm version of The Joker also appears in the Static Shock episode, "The Big Leagues." Joker traveled to Dakota, home of Static, to re-circuit a few bang babies for assistance in battling Batman, Robin, and Static Shock. In the end, Static defeated Joker, who was taken back to Arkham Asylum.
A very different version of the Joker appeared in the animated series The Batman. He strongly resembles Blanka from Capcom's Street Fighter series. He sports a purple and yellow straitjacket, fingerless gloves, bare feet (which are white with green toenails), wild green hair, red eyes, and athletic prowess that clearly mark him as different from his predecessors. In the end of the first episode, "The Bat in the Belfry," however, he vaguely implies that Batman was somewhat responsible for creating him. Later in the series, he regressed back the more traditional garb of a purple suit, but still had wild hair and wore no shoes. The Joker also moves and fights with a monkey-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 is still recognizably the Joker, and he seems to have no motive for his crimes other than enjoying them. He employs the signature Joker venom in the form of a laughing gas. His voice is supplied by Kevin Michael Richardson. This version of the Clown Prince of Crime more resembles the campy, comic relief character featured in the comics of the 1950s and '60s, and so is often criticized for discarding the darker aspects which many fans feel mark him as Batman's greatest nemesis. While this interpretation is generally lighter in tone, however, it still exhibits hints of a darker side. One episode in particular closely resembled The Killing Joke: during the episode, he tortured a police officer just because he could. He even quoted the comic ("all it takes is one bad day to make a normal man go insane"). The episode also showed the building hatred and jealousy that the Joker felt towards Batman as the police focused more on capturing Batman than him ("You mean to tell me you consider this vigilante more dangerous than me, the Clown Prince of Crime?")
In the 2005 direct to video animated movie, The Batman Vs. Dracula, the Joker met his apparent demise when Batman chased him to the edge of a building overlooking a lake. The Joker then tried to use a handbuzzer to shock Batman, but fell off the building with the handbuzzer still on. Landing in the water, he was electricuted by his own weapon. A fisherman had found him caught in his net, finding that he was still alive. Seeking a trove of gold, he chased the Penguin into a tomb, where Dracula rested. Awakened, Dracula turned the Joker into a vampire. He became Batman's test subject for a potential cure to vampirism, which in the end succeeded. After,Joker was cured, Batman questions him where is Dracula's resting place, which Joker has an amnesia about what he was doing when he was a vampire.
In live action television
[image]http://en.wikipedia.org/skins-1.5/common/images/magnify-clip.png[/image]Cesar Romero as the Joker from Batman.With the success of the 1960s television series, the character was brought to the forefront along with the rest of the classic rogues gallery. During that period, the Joker, portrayed by the late Cesar Romero in 18 episodes, was a goofy, harmless character akin to his comics persona of the 1950s and '60s, identifiable by a cackling laugh and silly, comedy-themed crimes, such as henchmen dressed as court jesters or bank robberies based on stand-up routines. Romero refused to shave his mustache for the role, resulting in the memorable sight of white makeup smeared over his facial hair.
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
[image]http://en.wikipedia.org/skins-1.5/common/images/magnify-clip.png[/image]Jack Nicholson as the Joker.The 1989 Batman film, directed by Tim Burton, offered a somewhat different origin for the Joker (who, in this film, was played by Jack Nicholson), and at the same time made him part of Batman's origin. The Joker's real name in the movie was Jack Napier, a play on the word "jackanapes" and possibly also adapted from the surname of actor Alan Napier, who had played Alfred in the 1960s series. Napier, the narcissistic right-hand man of Boss Carl Grissom, went by the nickname "Ace" and dressed in black, a tie-in with and contrast to his later playing card incarnation. Napier was having an affair with Boss Grissom's moll, Alicia Hunt, prompting a jealous Grissom to set his lieutenant up to be killed by a corrupt police officer named Lt. Eckhardt at Axis Chemicals. However, Grissom's plan went awry thanks to intervention by both Batman and Commissioner Gordon. After killing Eckhardt and then catching a ricocheted bullet in the face, Napier tumbled into a vat of chemicals after Batman failed to save him.
Although Napier survived, severed nerves and a botched attempt at reconstructive surgery created an eternal "smile," while reaction to the chemicals dyed his hair and bleached his skin. Upon seeing his ruined face, Napier's mind snapped. Assuming his new identity as the Joker, he killed Grissom and took over the gangster's empire, engaging in a violent, chaotic crime spree, the motive being to "outdo" Batman, whom he felt was getting too much press. The Joker also tried to woo Gotham Globe photographer Vicki Vale following Alicia Hunt's suicide. When Bruce Wayne learned about the Joker, he recalled how his parents were murdered at the hands of Jack Napier. Only then did he realize the Joker was partly responsible for the origin of Batman in the first place. (In the pre-Zero Hour comics, as well as the 2005 film Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered by Joe Chill.)
Batman director Tim Burton proposed the idea to portray Batman and the Joker as indirectly responsible for creating each other. One of Burton's inspirations for the film was the 1986 graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, which portrays Batman and the Joker as inextricably linked to each other. Burton thus re-wrote the script to establish the Joker as the murderer of Batman's parents to give the two characters a more substantial history, as the film's time frame does not allow for the two to be as bitter a pair of enemies that the comics establish them to be. An unused scene would have shown the Joker responsible for the death of Robin's parents as well.
The future of the Joker in film is currently in question. A Joker playing card was shown at the end of Batman Begins, where it had been used as a calling card by a costumed criminal who was not explicitly named. Screenwriter David Goyer explained in Premiere magazine that he plans to use the Joker as the main villain for the sequel to Batman Begins, due in 2008. Dozens of actors, and even one musician (David Bowie), have been mentioned as possible candidates for the role including: Adrien Brody, Lachy Hulme, Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Bettany, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, and Crispin Glover. However, as of 2006, confirmed reports show that only Brody, Depp, Hulme, and Bettany are seriously competing for the role.