33 Joker Facts: Everything To Know About Batman's Nemesis

Christian Mba
Oct 12, 2023 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Mar 17, 2022
Joker facts are weird and spine chilling.
?
Age: 3-18
Read time: 11.0 Min

The Clown Prince of Crime is unarguably one of the most known figures among the hundreds of comic book characters, even competing with the likes of Spiderman, Superman, and of course, his opponent, Batman.

Introduced in the first issue of the 'Batman' series in 1940, Joker is certainly the most popular comic book villain of all time in a field that has a fair share of iconic villains with names like Lex Luthor and Doctor Doom, to name a few. The character has been featured in animated shows, live-action movies, video games with a plethora of actors from the likes of Cesar Romero and Mark Hamill to the Oscar-winning performances of Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix.

Even Joker does not know about his origin, as reiterated in several stories by the villain. The iconic Alan Moore classic comic 'The Killing Joke' makes an attempt to tell us the origin. A person by the name of Jack Napier, who was a street-level criminal in Gotham City, fell into a vat of chemicals which turned his face white and made him unhinged. But this DC comics villain says his past is a multiple-choice, so even the most die-hard fan cannot ascertain the real identity of the villain.

The Joker: Comic Book And Movies

The primary antagonist of the 'Dark Knight', Joker, has been the subject of many comic books and both animated and live-action films. The popularity of the character ensured that Warner Bros. Pictures produced a standalone movie based on the character in 2019, with Joaquin Phoenix playing the role of the character as a failed comedian suffering from mental illness.

A highly popular opinion among fans is that Bob Kane, the creator of 'Batman', got the idea of Joker from a deck of playing cards. The reality is far from it.

The 1926 silent movie 'The Man Who Laughs' had a character named Gwynplaine, that was played by Conrad Veidt. This figure bears an uncanny resemblance to the face of Joker that you see today in pages of comic books. Bob Kane found this character rather unsettling and thus was born the eternal opponent of Batman.

'Batman: The Dark Knight Returns' is probably the greatest story of the caped crusader on paper. It had to have the Clown Prince of Crime, and sure enough, he was back to his mischief from a rehabilitated life when Batman returned. His antics angered the hero to such a degree that he snapped Joker's spine at the end of the story.

Every fan of comic books is aware of the significance of 'Flashpoint' that changed the DC universe as it was. In this alternate reality, Bruce Wayne was shot instead of his parents, in Crime Alley. While his father, Thomas Wayne, goes on to become Batman, his mother Martha suffers from mental collapse and becomes Joker in this reality.

The Joker is set up as the perfect yang to Batman's yin. While the Dark Knight vowed not to kill anybody, the villain does not care at all, and often Bruce's close ones become the target.

'The Killing Joke' shows the hero finally giving in to his emotions and seemingly putting an end to the Joker after the villain shoots Barbara Gordon in her stomach, making her handicapped from the waist down.

He is also accountable for the death of Jason Todd's version of Robin in 'A Death in the Family'. This happened when the readers were craving darkness in superhero books.

A version of the above event plays out in the third season of the television show 'Titans' when Jason Todd falls into the trap of the villain, leading to his apparent death. When Batman kills the Joker out of revenge, it is still unknown that Jason is, in fact, alive and has become the villain 'Red Hood'.

One version of Joker's origin plays out that he was a lab assistant and also tried his hand as a standup comedian before he began the cat and mouse game with Batman. Several iterations by many writers through the years have given us a number of origin stories.

During the storyline of 'DC Rebirth', Batman gets to sit on the powerful Morbius Chair and wants to know about the identity of the Joker. In a shocking twist, the readers, along with the hero, are told that there are three Jokers and not one.

The 2020 'Three Jokers' comics further elongated on this plot point, and we learn about the true origins of the Joker. Each of the three Jokers has played a vital part in Batman's life and is responsible in some way or the other for everything that has happened to him.

The Joker is one of the wackiest characters to have sprung up from the pages of DC. In one storyline, he cut off his own face as he wanted to start a new life. Very soon, we see this face attached to his head with staples and needles. This is gruesome for even the bravest person.

Villains having their own series is a rare occurrence even in 2022. The popularity of Joker encouraged the publishers to come out with his own monthly series in 1975. But this was a failure, and the series got canceled in a few months. In 2013, DC once more printed the series as a graphic novel that satisfied fans of the new generation.

The live-action debut of the Joker occurred with Cesar Romero in a television series of the '60s. Very soon, Jack Nicholson's version of the maniac in Tim Burton's 'Batman' surpassed Romero as the definitive Joker for many generations until Ledger portrayed his Oscar-winning role in Christopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight'. Nicholson still remains popular for his turn as the Joker, although he has played several other notable roles in his long career.

By far, Jared Leto's Joker in 'Suicide Squad' remains the least popular choice of the character on screen. His portrayal as a gold chain wearing thug, in love with Harley Quinn, did not resonate well with the audience, but he does have some loyal fans.

The reason behind the Joker's madness has been the point of research for many fans as well as scholars. Both the Riddler and the Joker had stated that the villain had a wife named Jeannie before he was a criminal. The pregnant Jeannie became the victim of an accident, killing both her and her unborn child, Junior. This incident is probably the cause of the insanity of the Joker.

Actors Who Have Played The Joker Character

Some of the best-known actors of Hollywood have played the role of Joker with their own take on the villain, each having his own fan base.

Luke Skywalker may be Mark Hamill's best-known role among 'Star Wars' fans, but comic nerds still read the panels of the Joker in books in Hamill's voice as he has given his distinct voice to the Clown Prince of Crime right from the Warner Bros. animated series of the '90s to the recent video games.

'Batman: The Animated Series' is noted as the best-animated show of all time, even in this age of technology. Mark Hamill first gave his voice to the Joker in 1992, and he has not looked back since. From the violent video games featuring Arkham Asylum to the recent animated film 'The Killing Joke', Hamill is the voice of the Joker for millions of fans. Hamill has won a BAFTA for the video game 'Arkham City' released in 2012, where he provided his voice for the clowned maniac.

Cesar Romero played the Joker in live-action first in the history of the character when the Batman show came out in 1966. The Latin actor refused to shave off his trademark mustache, and as a result, makeup artists covered it up with white paint, but it was prominently visible each time Romero appeared on the screen. He played the antagonist to Adam West's Batman, which cemented his role as the character in the spin-off movie that also came out in 1966.

Jack Nicholson played the Joker in the classic 'Batman' by Tim Burton, in which Michael Keaton plays the caped crusader. His performance made critics stand up and applaud, and some even argue that fans liked him more than Keaton.

Jack Nicholson's version of the Joker was much older than his comic counterpart. This allowed the writers of the film to change the origin of his character as the man who took the life of Bruce Wayne's parents.

Before succumbing to his death, Heath Ledger gave the performance of a lifetime as the disjointed maniac known as Joker in the second film of Nolan's 'Batman' trilogy. He won a posthumous Oscar for his role and gained followers all over the world. Did you know that Nolan had previously asked Ledger to play Bruce Wayne in 'Batman Begins'?

After Jack Nicholson, fans were skeptical of another actor as the Joker. Even Michael Caine, who played Alfred, did not want to star in the movie at first. When he heard that Ledger was cast as the first choice of Nolan, Caine immediately signed up for the film as he believed the director had found the perfect casting.

Heath Ledger went to extremes to prepare himself for the role. He shut himself up in a room for a month to understand the loneliness of the character. Part of Ledger's characterization of the Joker came from the chilling Stanley Kubrick thriller 'A Clockwork Orange'. He even did his own makeup on set.

While Jared Leto is gearing up to play the vampire Morbius in the film of the same name, his role as the Joker in DCEU's movies remains the most controversial. His version of a gangster crime boss with tattoos and gold chains is a far cry from the evil clown that people had seen before.

Jared Leto scared his co-actors on set while playing as Joker as he fully embraced the role in real life. He presented a love letter and a live rat to his onscreen partner Margot Robbie, who continues to play the role of Harley Quinn with the most recent 'Suicide Squad' of 2021.

The latest version of live-action Joker was essayed by the terrific actor Joaquin Phoenix. But before the actor made the role his own in his Oscar-winning performance, Tommy Wiseau was approached for the role after the success of his film 'The Disaster Artist'. Tommy turned it down as he deemed he had 'too much emotion' to play the Joker.

Phoenix gave a performance in the 2019 'Joker', which received a standing ovation from the audience at Venice Film Festival. He lost a huge amount of weight for playing Arthur Fleck, an alternate take on the origin story of the Joker set in the Gotham City of the '80s. The metamorphosis of the failed comedian into the Joker is one of the most spine-chilling performances on the silver screen.

In DC Comics, the Joker has been to Arkham Asylum several times.

Cultural Impact

Both Marvel and DC comics have given us several noteworthy superheroes and supervillains, but very few have attained the stardom of the Joker. The character resonates with people as the representative of modern society of lawlessness and anarchy.

Among all the characters in the 'Batman' universe, the Joker has served as the inspiration behind theme parks ahead of the Dark Knight. The reason is not known, but maybe the thrill of rollercoasters resonates with the personality of the character. It could even be his colorful nature that makes him an ideal subject for theme park rides.

The Joker's Jinx rollercoaster in Maryland, the Batman Adventure; The Ride in Perth, Australia; and the Joker Coaster in Mexico City are only some of the Joker-themed rides around the world.

An academic book centered around the character came out in 2015, the first of its kind about a supervillain, titled 'The Joker: A Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime.'

Memes are a staple feature of social media in 2022. The ones featuring the Joker have been circulating a lot since 2013 as people found their voice in the character.

Cameron Monaghan played another version of the Joker in the highly acclaimed 'Gotham' television series. The Valeska brothers are twins who play the role of the villain in a different way than seen previously. They play 'proto-Jokers' as a way of exploring the cultural lineage of the popular villain.

FAQs

What is the Joker most known for?

Joker is most known for his evil antics played on Batman and his supporting characters.

What is Joker's real name?

Though several origin stories of the Joker have been written, it is believed his real name is Jack Napier.

Who is the number one Joker?

There is no definitive number one Joker, but 'The Killing Joke' made an attempt to solve this riddle.

Why did the Joker have scars?

Various versions of the Joker tell different stories of the origin of the scar.

What does the Joker symbolize?

Joker is the symbol of a society that embraces nihilism and chaos.

Is Joker based on a true story?

No, it is not.

What was Joker's mental illness?

The origin of Joker's mental illness varies amongst the comics and movies.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

Read full bio >
Read the DisclaimerFact Correction