He is the quintessential villain of the [DC](tag:932255) universe and the self proclaimed Clown Prince of Crime. He is also one of the best known villains in all of comic book literature and the reason people acquired coulrophobia as children. He is the ace of Knaves and the archenemy of Batman, he is the Joker.
The Joker has appeared in nearly every level DC media, most prominently in those that feature Batman. He appeared in the Batman: The Animated Series, Batman the Brave and the Bold, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited, the other Batman Animated series, Young Justice, the Assault on Arkham animated movie, the Arkham and Injustice Games, and many more.
He also had a number of live-action appearances in the 1966 Batman TV show, played by actor Cesar Romero, in the 1989 Batman movie, played by Jack Nicholson, in the Dark Knight movie played by the late Heath Ledger, and will appear in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie in 2016, played by Jared Leto.
His demented smile, his psychotic personality, and his ruthless and chaotic crime sprees have been in the hearts of fans since his conception and will continue to be for years to come.
And yet, he is a very mysterious character. In 75 years many stories have been told and many things have happened to the Joker, but a good number of those remain largely unknown. This is why today we are going to go through 10 facts that you might not know about the Joker:
10. He was created as a one-time character
These days, it's hard to image the Joker as anything other than Batman's archenemy. He is the yin to Batman's yang, the chaos to Batman's order, the punchline to his joke. But when he was first created, that was not the case. The Joker was created by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson and first appeared in Batman #1 released in April, 1940.
In that issue, Joker is portrayed as a thief and a murderer, who uses the Joker toxin to commit crimes — but most importantly, he was supposed to die. At the end of that issue, Joker was supposed to be killed off by a stab in the heart, because the creative team of people behind him felt that a recurring villain would make Batman boring. Luckily he was saved by the then editor Whitney Ellsworth, establishing Joker as a recurring villain and later on the Bat's biggest archenemy. Talk about a bullet dodged.
9. His origins are as chaotic as his personality
In the Dark Knight live-action movie, the Heath Ledger Joker, made up different, imaginative origins for his facial scars. Well, in the comics this goes a little further. There are no recorded origins or a true backstory for the Joker. The closest DC ever came to unveiling his origin was during the 'Killing Joke' storyline, when it was revealed that he was a member of the Red Hood gang that got accidentally thrown in a chemical vat by Batman. It was soon debunked. He himself has stated that he doesn't remember his story, remembering different versions of it every time. He even went on to state that, "If I ever have a backstory, I want it to be multiply choice."
It was also suggested by Paul Dekker of the Doctor's Three that he is immortal and the manifestation of an entity of chaos. But even that was later proved false.
8. His conception is as chaotic as his origin
If you thought that his origins were complicated and mysterious, you have seen nothing yet. His conception is as much or even more complicated than his origin. All three people credited with the creation of the Joker remember different versions of his creation. Bill Finger claims that he showed a picture of Conrad Veidt, the actor portraying Gwynplaine in Victor Hugo's, The Man Who Laughs and modeled the Joker after him. Bob Kane, however, claims that he and Bill Finger were inspired to create the Joker by a card showed to them by Jerry Robinson, and then found the aforementioned picture and modeled the Joker after it. And finally, Jerry Robinson claims that he drew the Joker and then showed it to Bill Finger. When Bill Finger saw the picture he suggested that he looked like Conrad Veidt and thus created the Joker. We can safely agree that the Joker was inspired by Conrad Veidt, but absolutely nothing else.
7. He is not insane
The Joker was always associated with insanity. He was always portrayed as the crazy, sociopathic, lunatic who murders people because it's fun. Yet he is not insane. As stated by Grant Morrison, Joker's mental state is a form of "super-sanity." Instead of being detached and sociopathic, Joker understands everything around him in way no other person can, even realizing that he is a comic book character. This explains his unnatural tactical abilities, sociopathy, disregard for human life, and fourth wall breaking. Note, that while we, the audience, know that he is not insane, everybody in the DC universe still considers him so and he is treated as a mentally ill person.
6. He has the highest individual body count in the DC Universe
About every DC villain drops a person dead from time to time, but not this clown. For the Joker, that's an art. He was recorded to have more than 462 different on-panel kills of both men, women, and children and he's been said to have many more off-panel kills. At some point in the non-canon 'Emperor Joker' storyline, he almost destroyed Earth and all of the Cosmos all together. He is also very imaginative in his ways of murder, using every possible way imagined. He is also notorious for murdering a room full of babies (literally full of babies) by killing the woman caring for them and leaving them to starve and die.
5. The Joker scares even the DC's worst supervillains
This guy shot Alexander Luthor (the Earth-2 version of Lex Luthor) in the head for not inviting him to a team of supervillains. He threatened and forced both Arkham staff and inmates to either play a role or become a part of his theatrical play featuring the Batman. With all these instances in mind, it's no wonder that he would be just as scary to the villains as to everyone else. It is frequently shown that villains like Lex Luthor or Bane are extremely cautious or flat out avoid any contacts with the Joker, while others like the Trickster are openly scared of him. The Trickster even went on to say, "When supervillains want to scare each other, they tell Joker stories."
4. His name is possibly Jack
Fun fact: The Joker has a nickname, the Ace of Knaves. The Knave is another name for the playing card, the Jack. There is also a rumor that his name is Jack Napier, a play on the word 'jackanape.' In Batman: The Legends of the Dark Knight, Joker's cousin, Melvin, nearly calls him by his real name. He was interrupted by the Joker at "Ja-" and was threatened to never use that name again. The Joker has also used the name Jack as a code name for many of his schemes, prompting people to suspect that he was using it out of habit.
3. He has been cured of his insanity, twice
In recent comics, during the Joker storyline called, Batman: Endgame, both he and Batman have their final confrontation inside a collapsing cave. In that cave both Bruce and the Clown die when the cave collapses, but are later reborn by a regenerative substance called "dionesium" — a purified version of the Lazarus Pit.
After his resurrection, the Joker forgets everything he has ever done, becoming a simple, depressed man who works in a butcher shop and contemplates suicide. As of now he is cured of any craziness and seems to be normal, although it is hinted by the current writers that the Joker will become his old self again soon enough. There was also a case when the Martian Manhunter used his telepathic abilities to enter his mind and cleanse himself of any insanity. J'onn's intervention, though, proved to be pointless, as the Joker quickly regressed back to his usual state.
2. He took control of the Justice League
During the same storyline in which he died, Joker used his new and improved Joker Toxin to capture and brainwash half the Justice League into killing Batman. He mind-controlled Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and finally Superman to the point of total domination. Bruce managed to defeat them all by using everything he ever had, but the fight was extremely dangerous and took a hard toll on Batman. The Justice League was later captured by A.R.G.U.S. for immediate treatment.
1. He has no sense of good or evil
It is common knowledge that the Joker views his own actions as a way of making Batman a better hero. In the same 'Endgame' storyline he describes his actions as a "helping hand" to Batman. Yet that is the tip of the iceberg. The Joker does not consider his actions evil at all. He views his murders, thievery, and torture as purely noble and altruistic acts. The Spectre, one of the strongest beings in the DC Universe, God's Vengeance and Punishment, was unable to judge or punish the Clown Prince of Crime.
This happened because divine punishment comes to those who are at least deep down aware of their misdoings, to people that have a sense of morality but choose to ignore it, and the Joker has none of these facets. Jim Korrigan's Spectre managed to get lost inside the mind of the clown, and Hal Jordan's version of the Spectre was struck by a backlash so strong he was blown into orbit.
- This is the first article in a series of articles about DC's supervillains.
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