For even the most sane of us, even the most grounded, we are all one day away from becoming The Joker – one bad day away from snapping and becoming the thing we fear the most. Someone who has nothing to lose and who revels in chaos and madness. All it would take for you was to come home from work and find out your pregnant wife was dead, and that you lost your job, and that your own family didn’t care about you.
That would, maybe, be enough to push you over the edge to that place where all you wanted to do was create mayhem, spreading fear and chaos. All you would want to do was light the world on fire and then sit back on a hilltop playing a fiddle while you watched it burn. That is what makes the Joker such a controversial, enigmatic character that has captured fan’s attention since his inception.
People want to say he is a madman – yes and no. He is, but more over, he is the mad man lurking, deep down inside all of us, waiting for that perfect moment to be born into this world so we can make it even uglier than it already it. Yes, the Joker is chaos. Yes, the Joker is anarchy. Yes, the Joker is cruelty personified. But what really makes the character so remarkable is that he is you and I, but a part of you and I we are lucky enough hasn’t had to surface yet (and we pray never will).
But if you simply write him off as a madman, you are wrong. He is an instrument of chaos. He is the crooked finger pointed at a broken society. He is just a part of us we are lucky to still have buried. Here are 15 shocking things about the Joker you probably didn’t know.
13. Inspired By A Character From An Old Movie
The movie is from 1928 and it is called The Man Who Laughs. All you need to do is see one screen shot of the main character – a pale faced mad man with a wide smile that never ceases – to know he inspired Batman’s arch nemesis.
Some credit is given to Batman’s creators for his origins, but most just ignore it. Not crucial, but it set the tone for one of the greatest comic villains of all time.
12. He Was In A Scooby Doo Episode
The 70s were a kooky time. One of the things that made it kooky was that Scooby Doo was just ruling the kid’s show scene, and as a result of this, they managed to get the rights to a slew of characters to appear in the show next to the cartoon mystery solvers.
In one early episode, Batman, Robin, and the Joker all make appearances. Too bad the Joker’s evil ways were kept to a minimum, what with it being a kid’s show.
11. Heath Ledger Based Part of his Joker Character Off Musician Tom Waits
From his mannerisms to his exact speech, that is the Joker as we came to know him in Christopher Nolan‘s movie. It’s also rumored that he took some of the physical characteristics of rocker Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols for his performance.
10. There Are Many Versions of Him
There is nothing worse than when someone says “The Joker is like this or that!” Which Joker are you talking about? There isn’t just one Joker, you know? DC Comics currently has 52 universes – this means roughly 52 Jokers.
One needs to understand, each writer and artist has a different take and style and feel to the character. For instance, Greg Capullo’s Joker cut off his own face and went full psycho. Other versions have been more quiet and subdued.
The “One Joker” theory is not valid – the Joker is like evil: it doesn’t just settle in one form.
9. Robin Shot Him
In one of Joker’s craziest moves (and definitely the craziest move of the animated counterpart), he captures Robin and turns him into a mini Joker so he could take care of Batman. At the last minute, he turns the gun.
See? There are many Jokers. For instance, that one died. It was a scene that shocked many people. So much so, the above scene is not what you will see if you watch that actual movie; the ending has since been changed.
It’s sad and twisted and perfect as is.
8. He Needs Batman
You all need to understand the dynamic. Joker CANNOT live without Batman. It’s like yin and yang. To think the Joker hates Batman shows a huge disregard for everything that has ever been written about the two. Joker is obsessed with Batman, and if you think about it, he only appears in Gotham after Batman. This leaves many die hard fans believing that the Joker would not exist if Batman didn’t.
The way the Batman mythos has been written, it’s actually the Dark Knight who is the cause all of Gotham’s grief. Ironic, huh? If Batman took his own life, the Joker would stop. He would be grieving harder than any other person at that funeral.
7. He’s Been on David Letterman
This is just a small part of the Dark Knight storyline, but one worth mentioning. The reformed Joker gets invited onto the Letterman show to talk about how he has changed his ways.
He then uses this opportunity to take out the entire audience, letting the world know that the Joker never retires. It was just cool to see a Batman story take place in a world that seemed to mimic our own. And what better place for this to happen than a late night talk show?
6. No True Origin
Some say the Jack Napier story is his origin story. Others say it’s the Red Hood story. Some even say he’s just a madman who showed up one day. The most popular origin story is The Killing Joke. He was just a simple, sweet man who had a really bad day. Like, really bad. The kind of bad day that turns sane, sweet men into psychos.
Nolan’s movie got it right when he constantly tells different origin stories. The Joker is an urban legend brought to life. He has no one origin, but many. None any more or less valid than the last.
5. Harley Quinn Was Not Part of His Real History
Everyone loves Harley Quinn and with good reason: she is a fantastic character who adds a lot of appeal to the Joker’s mystique. But don’t be one of those newbies who talks about how the Joker and Harley have always been side by side; they haven’t.
Harley was created and introduced in the stellar Batman: The Animated Series of the 90s. Fans took to her so quickly, she got added to the comics and worked perfectly. But make no mistake: she and Mistah. J are new school. She did not exist until the 90s, but we love her anyway.
4. He Killed Himself and Framed Batman for Murder
So what do you do when you are alone with Batman, you know he is at his limits, and you want him to pay? You look at him, you smile, and you snap your own neck. That way, when the police rush in to help you and they find the Joker with a broken neck, they will pin it on you. Batman will take the fall.
That ending alone just shows you why Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns was some of the best Batman story telling ever! Game over, Joker won.
3. Batman Allegedly Killed Him in The Killing Joke Story
So The Killing Joke is often considered to be the best Batman story and with good reason. It gives us a Joker origin story we can buy. It shows us just how depraved he is (cripples Barbara Gordon and then humiliates and dehumanizes her father), but he does all this to get to Batman. So how does the story end?
With the Joker telling Batman a joke while Batman slowly loses his mind and begins choking out the Joker while the Dark Knight laughs relentlessly – this is what Moore had in mind when he wrote it.
Get it, The Killing Joke? It’s all in the name.
2. Batman’s Mom Became The Joker In An Alternate Universe
In an alternative DC universe, the shooting of Bruce Wayne’s parents plays out differently. Instead of the parents dying, Bruce Wayne is the one who gets shot and dies. This causes two butterfly effects.
One, his dad becomes Batman because he feels like this corrupt city needs to be controlled.
Two, mom hates dad and snaps because he didn’t save Bruce. She slowly loses her mind, slices a smile onto her own face because she is so sad that her son is gone, and she becomes the new Joker.
Yes kids: there was a DC timeline where Batman’s dad was Batman and Batman’s mom was the Joker. Welcome to DC comics, where anything goes. And seriously, the story line was awesome.
1. He Was Supposed To Die In His First Appearance
The best part in all of this is that the Joker was supposed to be a one-shot villain, one issue of the Batman comics and he was supposed to die. Thing is, the editor of the comic at the time really liked the back-and-forth between the Joker and Bats and asked that they keep him on a little longer and see how the character evolves.
Well, he stayed on and evolved into the greatest comic villain of all time, and maybe one of the greatest fictional villains of all time as well.