The Joker is a supervillain created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson who first appeared in the debut issue of the comic book Batman (April 25, 1940), published by DC Comics. Credit for the Joker's creation is disputed; Kane and Robinson claimed responsibility for the Joker's design while acknowledging Finger's writing contribution. Although the Joker was planned to be killed off during his initial appearance, he was spared by editorial intervention, allowing the character to endure as the archenemy of the superhero Batman.
In his comic book appearances, the Joker is portrayed as a criminal mastermind. Introduced as a psychopath with a warped, sadistic sense of humor, the character became a goofy prankster in the late 1950s in response to regulation by the Comics Code Authority, before returning to his darker roots during the early 1970s. As Batman's nemesis, the Joker has been part of the superhero's defining stories, including the murder of Jason Todd—the second Robin and Batman's ward—and the paralysis of one of Batman's allies, Barbara Gordon. The Joker has had various possible origin stories during his decades of appearances. The most common story involves him falling into a tank of chemical waste which bleaches his skin white and turns his hair green and lips bright red; the resulting disfigurement drives him insane. The antithesis of Batman in personality and appearance, the Joker is considered by critics to be his perfect adversary.
The Joker possesses no superhuman abilities, instead using his expertise in chemical engineering to develop poisonous or lethal concoctions, and thematic weaponry, including razor-tipped playing cards, deadly joy buzzers, and acid-spraying lapel flowers. The Joker sometimes works with other Gotham City supervillains such as the Penguin and Two-Face, and groups like the Injustice Gang and Injustice League, but these relationships often collapse due to the Joker's desire for unbridled chaos. The 1990s introduced a romantic interest for the Joker in his former psychiatrist, Harley Quinn, who becomes his villainous sidekick. Although his primary obsession is Batman, the Joker has also fought other heroes including Superman and Wonder Woman.
One of the most iconic characters in popular culture, the Joker has been listed among the greatest comic book villains and fictional characters ever created. The character's popularity has seen him appear on a variety of merchandise, such as clothing and collectible items, inspire real-world structures (such as theme park attractions), and be referenced in a number of media. The Joker has been adapted to serve as Batman's adversary in live-action, animated, and video game incarnations which we will dive into right now.
The Men Behind The Smile:
Cesar Romero: (The Classic Clown of the Silver/Golden Age)
Romero was more of a harmless grifter with a clown fetish than a true menace to Gotham City. In the TV show and spin-off movie, Romero was known for his childlike clown pranks, his poison flower, and his high pitch laugh. He even was able to keep his "Latin Lover" iconic moustache while painted up saying, "No amount of cackling will make me get rid of my look."
Jack Nicholson: (The Mobster Showman)
Nicholson was The Joker for Tim Burton's dark reimagining of The Batman Mythos. Jack Nicholson beat out Brad Dourif, Tim Curry, David Bowie, Willem Dafoe, and even Robin Williams. Robin Williams was used by Burton as a bargaining chip to get Nicholson to bring his asking price down to ….$6Million.
Heath Ledger: (The Anarchist)
What Ledger did transcended a genre or even the character we knew. He truly immortalized the part. Ledger, who was in talks for Batman in Batman Begins, beat out Adrian Brody as well as Robin Williams again. Heath was 28 years old when played The Joker and he used white pancake powder as the main base of his makeup. Ledger admitted that he drew from Clockwork Orange, Sid Vicious, and Tom Waits. He also locked himself up in a hotel room for a month writing his Joker Diaries.
Jared Leto: (The Thug)
Leto's take on The Joker was basically candy colored nihilism masquerading in a superhero movie. Leto was even more method than Heath. He would send his castmates very dark and perverse gifts that would make them treat him like the bad guy he is. He did bring a shark circling his prey vibe in his scenes when he delivered lines. This is definitely a lot of people's least favorite version.
Cameron Monaghan: (The Psychopathic Origin)
Cameron played both Jerome and how twin Jeremiah Valeska. Both became The Joker in their own right. The slow evolution of his Joker was the best arch Gotham had. Though they could not use the name Joker due to Leto and Phoenix in the midst of being Jokers, he played it better than Leto! Probably one of the best incarnations in years!
Joaquin Phoenix (Society's Failure)
Phoenix stars in a deconstructionist piece set in the early 1980s instead of 2019. Returning to the amateurish appearance of self-applied make-up used by Ledger, there is something even more insidious in Phoenix's countenance that just as much resembles serial killer John Wayne Gacy as it does the comic book character. Phoenix has truly changed the game on the character! His Joker is the failure of society on mental illness.
The Joker Movie: Brilliant! Game changing, thought provoking, uncomfortable, sad, gut wrenching. Our friends over at @ForYourReferencePodcast had this to say:
"Most films strike a balance of highs and lows, but Joker sat in it's pain without any levity. Allowing us to see, from his eyes, the development into the Joker."
The Voices Behind The Laugh:
The Adventures of Batman (1968 voiced by Larry Storch)
The New Adventures of Batman (1977, voiced by Lennie Weinrib)
The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (1985, voiced by Frank Welker).
The New Batman Adventures (1997 Michael McKean)
Batman: Dark Tomorrow (2003 Alan Enlow)
The Batman (2004 - 2008 Voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson)
Batman: The Brave and The Bold (2008 - 2012 voiced by Jeff Benett and Corey Burnton)
Batman: Black and White (2008 voiced by Michael Dobson)
Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe ( 2009 videogame voiced by Richard Epcar)
DC Super Friends (2010 Voiced By John Kassir)
Batman: Under The Red Hood (2010 voiced by John DiMaggio)
Young Justice Season 1 (2010 - 2011 Voiced by Brent Spiner)
Lego Batman 1, 2, and 3 (2008, 2012, and 2014 videogame Voiced by Christopher Corey Smith)
The Dark Knight Returns Part 1&2 (2012 Voiced by Michael Emmerson)
Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013 videogame Voiced by Richard Epcar)
Batman: Arkham Origins (2013 videogame Voiced by Troy Baker)
Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014 Voiced by Troy Baker)
Lego Batman Movie (2017 Voiced by Zach Galifinakis)
Mark Hamill's Joker
Batman The Animated Series (1992-1997)
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Superman The Animated Series (1996-2000)
The New Adventures of Batman (1997-1999)
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)
Static Shock (2000-2004)
Justice League Unlimited (2001-2006)
Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009 Video Game)
Batman: Arkham City (2011 Video Game)
DC Universe Online (2011 - Present Online Streaming Video Game)
Batman: Arkham VR (2016 Video Game)
Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
Batman: Arkham Knight (2017 Video Game)
Lego DC Villains (2018 Video Game)
Justice League: Action (2018)
Scooby Doo Guess Who (2019)
Robot Chicken (2005 - 2019)
Funhouse Facts About The Joker:
Renowned as Batman's greatest enemy, the Joker is known by a number of nicknames, including the Clown Prince of Crime, the Harlequin of Hate, the Ace of Knaves, and the Jester of Genocide.
WorldCat, a catalog site online, puts The Joker being in over 250 productions from film, animation, and video games, and books.
Mark Hamill once did an episode of Justice League: Action, where he played The Joker, The Trickster, Swamp Thing, and himself in one scene.
When the storyline of the vat of acid is not his mythos, he does his own makeup
He was once merged with Marvel's Sabertooth in the crossover comic event to take on DarkClaw, who was Batman and Wolverine merged.
In Injustice: God's Among us storyline, Joker had a daughter with Harley Quinn, who shed hid from him with her sister.
In Dark Knights: Metal, Batman finally kills Joker. After his death, his body began to release a gas that infected Batman, causing him to lose his mind and kill everyone in Gotham.
During DC Rebirth, Batman sat on the Morbius Chair. When he got to ask the all knowing chair one question, he asked "Who is The Joker?" The chair told him that there never was just one Joker, but 3.
The Joker once removed his own face…just to staple it back on.
In Batman: Endgame comic book series, The Joker lets it known that he is actual an ancient demon destined to fight The Batman forever. Knowing this, Batman pinned down The Joker and allowed the Batcave to collapse on them, burying them both.
Heath Ledger kept asking Bale to actually brutally beat him up in their scenes.
Raven's abilities don't work on The Joker.
He once tricked Mr. Mxyzptlk to give him universe altering abilities.
In Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum story arch, it is revealed that he has what is called "Super Sanity." This mental state of mind means that the villain doesn't have any real personality. He adapts his personality to whatever situation he is in. His brain cannot perceive the sensory stimuli that are coming at him in the outside world. So he basically "goes with the flow."
Before Harley Quinn came along, his first sidekick was a little clown named Gagsworth A. Gagsworthy or Gaggy for short. He was a tightrope walker with the Flying Graysons.