BySam Plank, writer at
"You have to be what you are. Whatever you are, you gotta be it." -Johnny Cash. Tweet a tweeter at my twitty twitter, @tw1tterintw1t
Sam Plank

Dammit, Joker, I wish you'd get your stories straight. I'm beginning to think you just don't want us to know how you got those scars.

After years of The Joker vs. Batman, we've gotten a LOT of versions of that clown's origin story.

Here are some of the best and freakiest so far.

1. The First

In 1952, Detective Comics #168 finally gave us a backstory for Joker, the first one ever. Turns out he was a crime boss known as the Red Hood, and during a heist, Batman and Robin catch him and chase him to a chemical plant. Obviously, he jumps in a vat of chemicals while desperately trying to escape, changing his appearance and driving him mad.

In the Detective Comics #27, a man named Alfred Stryker meets a similar fate, only it wasn't until 2014, in a retconned version of the comic, that the writers made Stryker's hand reach up out of the acid, and he became the Joker.

2. The Killing Joke

Second verse, same as the first! Only this time, the Joker starts out life as Jack, a terrible stand up comedian who quits his job as an engineer at a chemical plant to pursue his stand up dream, only to find out the hard way that he sucks. To support his pregnant wife, Jeannie, he robs the chemical factory with two other criminals. During the robbery, Batman shows up (of course) and Jack jumps into a vat of chemicals, trying to escape. He comes back up in Gotham reservoir with chalky white skin, ruby red lips and green hair. Oh, and he's insane.

That all sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it? Like you've seen it in a movie somewhere?

3. Batman: The Movie

Jack Nicholson's Joker had a similar story, being knocked into a vat of chemical waste by Batman. Turns out, it was the Joker who had killed Bruce Wayne's parents all those years ago, back when he was just a punk named Jack Napier.

4. Blame The Batarang

In 2007, there was a slightly different take on the Joker, this time with him having scars, like in that one slightly popular movie that was released the next year. In Batman: Lovers and Madmen, again, Joker's original name was Jack. It begins with Jack sitting in a bar, talking to a woman about his horrible life. He has a job he hates (robbing banks), and he's so good at it, it's actually boring. Later that night, during a heist, Jack meets the Batman (but apparently gets away), and loves his job all of a sudden. He does another heist later, getting the Batman to show up, and during the scuffle, gets cut by a batarang, giving him those infamous scars. He still escapes, however, but is captured by a rival gang. They take him to a pharmaceutical plant to be tortured; the Bat shows up, and a vat of antidepressant chemicals is dumped on Jack. He is swept down a drainpipe and out of the plant, awakening later with white skin and green hair.

5. Speaking Of That Movie...

Tell ya what. Let's just go to IMDb and quote this sucker, because, well, Heath Ledger!

Joker to Gambol:

"You wanna know how I got these scars? My father, was a drinker, and a fiend. And one night, he goes off crazier than usual. Mommy gets the kitchen knife to defend herself. He doesn't like that. Not. One. Bit. So, me watching, he takes the knife to her, laughing while he does it. He turns to me and says, "Why so serious?" Comes at me with the knife. 'WHY SO SERIOUS?' He sticks the blade in my mouth... 'Let's put a smile on that face.'"

And Joker to Rachel:

"Oh, you look nervous. Is it the scars? You want to know how I got 'em? Come here. Hey! Look at me. So I had a wife. She was beautiful, like you. Who tells me I worry too much. Who tells me I ought to smile more. Who gambles and gets in deep with the sharks. One day, they carve her face. And we have no money for surgeries. She can't take it. I just want to see her smile again. I just want her to know that I don't care about the scars. So... I stick a razor in my mouth and do myself. And you know what? She can't stand the sight of me! She leaves. Now I see the funny side. Now I'm always smiling!"

6. The New 52

This backstory is pretty depressing, especially since that monkey just stole those girl scout cookies! In it, the Joker grew up as a very unhappy child. His aunt, Eunice, would starve him and beat him, and one day she took it too far. She knocked the wall down he was hiding behind with a hammer, dragged him to the sink and scrubbed his skin with bleach until it was white. And he had a pet monkey named Jackanapes.

This leads us to our final and honestly, coolest backstory yet:

7. Batman: Endgame

After the Death in the Family story arc — where the Joker uses his own face as a mask, and apparently dies — he comes back for this story, and reveals a new origin. Batman has really got to be getting tired of this by now.

Jim Gordon, at some point, finds pictures of the Joker from decades before his first appearance. He is attacked by the Joker in his own home and Gordon shoots him in the head. Joker survives and it's discovered that he's been using something called Dionesum to give him regenerative capabilities for a very, very long time.

Are we ever going to know for sure how the Joker came to be? Probably not.

Do we really care? Most definitely probably not!

What's your favorite Joker origin story?


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