The Complete History of the Joker

Laugh it up, movie fans ! Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix ’ south Joker is about upon us, cook to unleash a wave of crime — and think pieces — the likes of which Hollywood hasn ’ thyroxine seen since Heath Ledger terrorized Gotham City in The Dark Knight over a ten ago. But the history of the most ill-famed villain in Batman ’ randomness rogues gallery is itself a interesting as any of the character ’ south adventures either on screen or the print page. here ’ s a promptly guide to the hotheaded history of the Caped Crusader ’ s deadliest enemy … .
An Origin Shrouded in Mystery
The Joker debuted in Batman # 1, the form 1940 launch of the Dark Knight ’ south dedicated comic-book serial ; it besides revealed the superhero ’ s lineage for the inaugural clock and contained the foremost appearance of Catwoman. ( Batman first appeared in a offprint series, Detective Comics, which gave DC Comics its name and in which he placid stars to this day. )

But the creation of the Clown Prince is shrouded in controversy, with the three men involved — writer Bill Finger and artists Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson — each offering a different score of how the Joker came to be. The claim regulate of events varies depending on who you believe, but in effect, the character was a hybrid of influences. Robinson produced a joker playing-card purpose. Finger provided inhalation in the form of a clown-face logo from Coney Island and, crucially, a video of actor Conrad Veidt playing the disfigured, permanently grinning title fictional character in the 1928 repugnance film The valet Who Laughs. Both Robinson and Kane, who for decades received sole credit rating for the initiation of Batman, designed the character on the page, while Robinson and Finger helped develop the concept of the Joker as Batman ’ mho nemesis. The result was a villain unlike any of the gangsters and delirious scientists Batman and his recently added buddy Robin had always faced before.

Joker A Courtesy DC ( 2 ) From Sick Jokester to Merry Prankster
In his first field day, the Joker is a cold lunatic with an formidable smile, who goes on two disjoined homicidal crime sprees before Batman brings him down. The Joker ’ s “ venom, ” a poison that leaves a ghastly rictus smile on its victims faces, made its first appearance in the character ’ mho very first rampage .
But the killings stopped in 1942, by which degree the Joker was one of Batman ’ s most popular and frequent opponents. After that, his crimes evolved into traps and heists that were complicate, amusing, and largely harmless — see Batman # 44 ( 1946 ), in which the Joker wins big at a casino and is inspired to build a huge slot car to try and off Batman and Robin by dropping giant star coins on them. ( When that fails, he tries to crush them with massive dice. ) His tendency toward such outstanding set pieces grew even more pronounce after the rise of the censorious Comics Code Authority in 1954 .
During this transitional period in the character ’ sulfur history, Bill Finger devised his most frequently cited lineage report. Published in 1951, Detective Comics # 168 revealed that the Joker was once the Red Hood, a disguise condemnable who fell into a vat of acid while attempting to escape from Batman. When he emerged from the caldron, the villain was cursed with green hair’s-breadth, corpse-white skin, and that unnerving perma-grin. It was this account of the Clown Prince ’ s initiation that Alan Moore and Brian Bolland would draw from in their seminal 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke .
Bam! Pow! TV Icon!
The Joker had largely faded into obscureness when pop-culture superstardom came calling. The camp Clown Prince of Crime was the perfect fit for William Dozier and Lorenzo Semple Jr. ’ s pop-art Batman television express, launched in 1966. The most frequently recurring villain on the show, he was portrayed by aging heartthrob Cesar Romero, who famously refused to shave off his trademark mustache for the role and plainly had the character ’ s greasepaint applied over it .

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by 20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock (5883029b) Cesar Romero Batman - 1966 Director: Leslie Martinson 20th Century Fox USA Film Portrait twentieth Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterst The Swingin ’ Sixties Batman series has fallen in and out of favor with fans over the years, with some decrying its careful unseriousness and others praising its vibrant design and facetiously performances. Romero ’ mho Joker is a far cry from the black, slenderly more psychotic translation that we ’ re used to seeing now, to be surely — but his royal poinciana staginess has decidedly influenced all subsequent portrayals of the Dark Knight ’ s archenemy .
A Return to Darkness
As the excitement for the television testify faded, the Batman comics, which had aped the series ’ bam-pow-zap manner during its run, began to drift back to their ghastly 1940s roots — a motion made potential by the untie of the Comics Code rules and a modern generation of creative talent rising in the ranks. In 1973 ’ randomness Batman # 251, writer Dennis O ’ Neil and artist Neal Adams reintroduced the Joker to the comics foliate after a four-year absence. More importantly, they added murder back into his repertory for the first time in over 30 years. The Clown Prince of Crime was once again free to traffic in slaughter .
Teaming with artist Irv Novick, O ’ Neil would besides introduce the Clown Prince ’ s huffy motor hotel : Arkham Asylum, a mental mental hospital for the criminally harebrained, which comics readers first got to visit in 1974 ’ south Batman # 258. The couple additionally helped to launch the Joker ’ s identical beginning solo series in 1975. Whether teaming up with other villains like Lex Luthor, Two-Face, and the Penguin or striking out on his own, the character remained a anchor of the entire DC universe from that point forward .
The Eighties’ Fearsome Foursome of Joker Tales
The back one-half of the 1980s, however, were arguably the best menstruation in the Joker ’ s publishing history. His hot streak began with Frank Miller ’ s genre-defining 1986 Batman opus The Dark Knight Returns, the history of a dystopian future in which both characters emerge from “ retirement ” more dangerous than always. The writer-artist ’ s disturbing rendition made the villain a mass murderer who laughs once, and lone once : When he frames the Caped Crusader for his mangle by breaking his own neck following a deliver struggle in an amusement park .
back in the present sidereal day, the Clown Prince began eating away at his nemesis ’ supporting cast like acid. wide considered the best joker fib always told ( though its writer has largely renounced it ), Moore and Bolland ’ second 1988 opus The Killing Joke emphasized the symbiotic relationship between bomber and villain. Fresh from his revisionist triumph Watchmen, Moore reintroduced the “ Red Hood ” origin report, reimagining the man who would be the Joker as a down-on-his-luck comedian forced to pull a burglarize in order to support his pregnant wife. In one of his worst acts of ferocity so far, the psychopathic prankster crippled Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon ’ s daughter Barbara, aka the champion known as Batgirl.

Courtesy of DC Comics Batman ’ s primary buddy Robin fared even worse that like year. In writer Jim Starlin and artist Jim Aparo ’ s A Death in the Family, the Joker viciously beat Jason Todd, the moment kid to hold the situation of Boy Wonder, with a crowbar before killing him in an explosion. Readers were able to call a hotline to vote for whether Jason lived or died ; the Joker himself would have been pleased with the consequence .
The fourth entrance in this newfangled Joker canon — and namesake of the smash-hit video game series decades later — was 1989 ’ s Arkham Asylum, from visionary writer Grant Morrison and multimedia artist Dave McKean. The pair portrayed the Joker as a about fabulous avatar of havoc in a floor that saw Batman infiltrate the home of his worst enemies, about going brainsick in the process. It ’ s a smeary, hallucinogenic nightmare of a Joker floor, and one of the more bone-chilling takes on the character .
The Clown Prince of Hollywood
Released in the summer of 1989 after harebrained levels of ballyhoo, Tim Burton ’ s Batman featured Jack Nicholson as the Joker, a function many thought he ’ d been born to play. It ’ south no slight against Michael Keaton ’ s idiosyncratic flex as Bruce Wayne and his costume alter ego to say that Nicholson ’ sulfur wisecrack, art-defiling crimelord deserved his top bill. His performance took the high-camp aspects of Romero ’ s take on the villain and added a sense of volatility into the mix ; only Jack could take a line like “ You always dance with the devil in the pale moonlight ? ” and somehow make it seem truly perturb and baleful. ( When the applaud Batman : The Animated Series, which ran from 1992-1995 and was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, introduced the quality, who did they pick to give voice to the Joker ? none early than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill. He always did have a bite of the dark side in him. )
Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by Snap/Shutterstock (390857ib) FILM STILLS OF 'BATMAN' WITH 1989, TIM BURTON, CHARACTER, JOKER: BATMAN'S ENEMY, JACK NICHOLSON IN 1989 VARIOUS Snap/Shutterstock It took closely 20 years, but Nicholson ’ s stretch as the Joker in the minds of the masses was ultimately supplanted by the late Heath Ledger in Christopher Nolan ’ s gamechanging movie The Dark Knight. Ledger won a posthumous academy award for his depiction of the character as a heavily scarred anarchist, whose conflicting origin stories echoed the contradictory stories put away in the comics. ( The Killing Joke aside, DC has never officially designated the Clown Prince ’ s “ veridical ” beginning, and theories range from abuse survivor to deity being. ) For many fans, it ’ s the authoritative take on the character — a supervillain that ’ s one depart huffy ace, one share John Wayne Gacy and one contribution nihilistic agent of chaos .

In the next wave of DC Universe superhero movies, the role was inhabited by Jared Leto in David Ayer ’ s Suicide Squad. Lean, mean, and heavily tattooed, Leto ’ s supporting-player Joker adopted a sort of brassy narco-chic look as filtered through your local Hot Topic, a vibration his erstwhile sexual love interest Harley Quinn, portrayed by Margot Robbie, only enhanced — to say the film underserved the iconic character would be putting it gently. It did nothing to damage the quality ’ south popularity among both comedian and movie fans, naturally, but it was proof that playing the Joker required more than precisely a giggle and a grotesque smile .
And throughout this meter period, the character has thrived on the comics page. In late years, he ’ randomness survived having his face torn off, and faced competition from an alternate-reality loanblend of himself and the Dark Knight called “ The Batman Who Laughs, ” presently the comic-book DC Universe ’ s most influential sinner .
rev 1 JOK 04413 High Res JPEGW Niko Tavernise now the Clown Prince is poised to conquer Tinseltown all complete again in Todd Phillips ’ Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix. The director has made no secret of the film ’ s debt to characters from the filmography of Martin Scorsese — notably Taxi Driver ’ s Travis Bickle and The King of Comedy ‘ s Rupert Pupkin — while Phoenix can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate serve but bring shades of past characters like The Master ‘ s mentally ill Freddie Quell to the board. The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival ; early critical reception has been mixed. Would it truly be a Joker movie if everyone were in on the joke ?
Which brings us to the major difference between this Joker and all of his cinematic forerunners : He is now the hero, or antihero, of his own narrative. Romero, Nicholson, and Ledger ’ s versions of the character had Batman as a thwart, while Leto ’ s play second violin to Harley Quinn. Phoenix ’ s origin-story incarnation, however, is just a sad-sack everyman who gets his beginning without a superhero in sight. Has the Joker become such a massive pop-culture bearing that moviegoers will find themselves compelled by a Clown Prince without the crimes ? He started out as a colorfully deranged, stone-cold killer whale. now he gets the limelight to himself. We can ’ metric ton wait to hear the punchline.

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