ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

Now, when it comes to Suicide Squad-related excitement, there's a whole lot going around. Whether it's the arrival of Harley Quinn on the big screen, or the introduction of so many big names to the newly-formed DC Cinematic Universe, it's a time of more than a little wonder. The main event, though - and the undisputed champion of DCCU-themed excitement - is one man, and one man only: The Clown Prince of Crime himself...The Joker.

After all, with every additional detail of Jared Leto's take on the villain we get, the realization that The Joker is indeed heading back to our screens (and looking awesome, too) gets stronger and more fully-formed. The big question now, though? What parts of the Joker's dark and twisting history will we see on screen? After all, there've seen a fair few versions of the villain, and he's hiding some dark secrets back there in the past.

Here are eight of my personal favorites:

1. The Joker's Origin Lies in a Delightfully Twisted Silent Movie

Specifically, The Man Who Laughs, a 1928 silent movie starring Conrad Veidt as Gywnplaine, a nobleman whose mouth his disfigured into a permanent smile by his king. The movie itself (based on a novel by Victor Hugo) is very much a classic old-school melodrama, but the visual effect of Gwynplaine's disfigurement was reportedly a major influence on artist Bob Kane when creating the Joker - much as the source of Gwynplaine's disfigurement seems to have been on The Joker's later, Batman-blaming, 'Monarch Card Company'-set origin.

Don't be too surprised if Leto's Joker has a poster for the film on the wall of his cell...

Likelihood of It Appearing in the DCCU: The smile? 10/10. A reference to the silent film? 5/10

2. The Joker Was Originally a Brutal Serial Killer

Way back in the 1940s, when The Joker first appeared, he was very much the murderous Harlequin of Hate we now know and love.

His favorite weapon? Joker Venom...

Likelihood of It Appearing in the DCCU: 10/10. I mean, it's The Joker. What else is he going to be but a murderous psychopath?

3. He Was Originally Supposed to Be Killed Off

Co-creator Bill Finger had initially sought to kill off the character after his second appearance - not wanting Batman to appear ineffective by allowing his enemies to constantly escape justice. He was overruled by editor Whitney Ellsworth, however, and The Joker lived to menace Gotham countless more times.

Likelihood of It Appearing in the DCCU: 5/10. There is absolutely no way that The Joker is going to make his final DCCU appearance in Suicide Squad - so if he seems to die (which he might), it's definitely temporary.

4. He Quickly Became a Laughing Stock

Or, rather, the entire DC universe became substantially less dark during the course of the 1950s, with 1954's introduction of the Comics Code Authority essentially veto-ing all violent, gory or dark comics.

The Joker, once a dark and menacing villain, became a goofy, bumbling thief, with a penchant for the ridiculous - which remained his base-character until 1973...

Likelihood of It Appearing in the DCCU: 1/10. Suicide Squad looks set to be pitch-black in tone, and The Joker is far more likely to be a Hannibal Lecter-like character than comic-relief.

5. But Then Returned to His Twisted Roots - Even Disfiguring a Bunch of Fish

Yup, that's right - The Joker once disfigured a bunch of fish to look exactly like him, hoping that they'd then be covered by copyright protection.

That's the sort of thing you saw a lot of in the 1970s, when The Joker was gradually taken back to his roots as a homicidal maniac, but the Comics Code Authority remained highly influential (and limiting).

Likelihood of It Appearing in the DCCU: 1/10. Insane(ly brilliant) as it'd be, it seems incredibly unlikely that we'll see The Joker messing with any fish on screen anytime soon.

6. Fans Voted to Let Him Kill Robin

Back in the late '80s, Batman fans had grown increasingly tired of Jason Todd, the recent replacement for the original Robin, Dick Grayson. Reluctant to simply alter the character, DC offered fans a choice: To let the Joker kill Todd, or to let Todd survive.

And, so, in the iconic A Death in the Family, kill Robin he did (or, at least, that's what it seemed like at the time), with a crow-bar, no less.

Likelihood of It Appearing in the DCCU: 8/10. If the DCCU is looking for a deep-seated reason for Batman to passionately hate The Joker, him having been responsible for a previous Robin's death would work perfectly.

7. He Once Worked For Iran

One of the stranger things to come out of A Death in the Family was the Joker's next gig - he was offered a role as Iran's ambassador to the United Nations by Ayatollah Khomeini - allowing him to escape justice, and providing a perfect example of the kind of weird stuff that can happen when politics invades the comic-book world.

Likelihood of It Appearing in the DCCU: 2/10. Admittedly, tensions with Iran aren't a whole lot lower now than they were back in 1989, but the odds of a mainstream comic-book movie pulling something that controversial seem pretty slim.

8. He Recently Had His Face Removed (and Then Reattached)

In one of the darker moments of DC's recent New 52 continuity, The Joker not only had his entire face removed, but then reattached with wires, belts, hooks and other such assorted body-horror favorites.

It's recently been restored to something approaching normality, but even so - for a while there, The Joker was even more magnificently horrifying than usual...

Likelihood of It Appearing in the DCCU: 4/10. It might be kind of a long-shot, but as far as iconic visuals go, nothing'd get rid of that much-derided Superman screaming meme than Jared Leto literally pulling his own face off.

No matter what, though, there's a heck of a lot to look forward to in 2016...

What do you think, though? What great Joker details have I missed out? Are there any other heroes or villains that deserve the same close examination? And just what is the deal with disfiguring fish, anyway?


Latest from our Creators