Monday, June 18, 2012

Character Spotlight: The Joker

The Joker is a supervillian and the archenemy of Batman and is a master criminal with a clown-like appearance. Initially portrayed as a violent sociopath who murders people for his own amusement and having been directly responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman's life, including the paralysis of Barbara Gordon and the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin.

REAL NAME: Unknown
OCCUPATION: Professional Criminal and Murderer
BASE OF OPERATIONS: Gotham City or Arkham Asylum
WEIGHT: 160 lbs.
EYES: Green
HAIR: Green

KNOWN RELATIVES: Jeannie Kerr (rumored wife, deceased), Unborn Daughter (rumored daughter, deceased), Harley Quinn (girlfriend) 

FIRST APPEARANCE: Batman #1 (1940)

Accounts of the Joker's origin story have been varied and numerous. He himself has told the story of how he came to be in several different variations, saying that sometimes he remembers it one way, sometimes another; and that if he has to have a past, he "[prefers] it to be multiple choice." What has remained the most consistent is that his first encounter with the Batman was while he was acting in the identity of "The Red Hood" with a gang of other thugs, committing a robbery in or near the Ace Chemical Processing Plant. He either tripped into a vat of chemicals, or was accidentally pushed in by Batman.

Most origins end with him falling into chemicals which bleach his skin and make his hair green and gives him a permanent red smile. They also always end with him either being forced into criminal acts or committing them himself. They invariably include Batman's involvement in some way.

Though many have been related, a definitive history of the Joker has never been established in the comics, and his true name has never been confirmed. The most widely cited back-story can be seen in Alan Moore's The Killing Joke. It depicts him as originally being an engineer at a chemical plant who quit his job to pursue his dream of being a stand-up comedian, only to fail miserably. Desperate to support his pregnant wife, Jeannie, the man agrees to help two criminals break into the plant where he was formerly employed. In this version of the story, the Red Hood persona is given to the inside man of every job (thus it is never the same man twice); this makes the inside man appear to be the leader, allowing the two ring-leaders to escape. During the planning, police contact him and inform him that his wife and unborn child have died in a household accident.

Stricken with grief, he attempts to back out of the plan, but the criminals strong-arm him into keeping his promise. As soon as they enter the plant, however, they are immediately caught by security and a fatal shoot-out ensues, in which the two criminals are killed. As he tries to escape, he is confronted by Batman, who is investigating the disturbance. Terrified, the engineer leaps over a rail and plummets into a vat of chemicals. When he surfaces in the nearby reservoir, he removes the hood and sees his reflection: bleached chalk-white skin, ruby-red lips, and emerald green hair. These events, coupled with his other misfortunes that day, drive the engineer through the massive personality shift that results in the birth of the Joker.

The Joker makes use of a wide variety of weapons and gadgets, most of which are disguised as harmless practical joke items.

Joker Venom - A deadly poison that infects his victims with a ghoulish rictus grin as they die while laughing uncontrollably. This venom comes in many forms, from gas to darts to liquid poison, and has been his primary calling card from his first appearance.

Razor-sharp Playing Cards -The Joker's playing cards are used much like shuriken - he can throw them with astounding accuracy, and they have been shown to be sharp enough to damage Batman's gliding harness.

Electric Joy Buzzer - The joy buzzer is one of the Joker's most prominent weapons - worn on the hand as a ring, it discharges a lethal electric current into anything that comes into contact. Whilst it has been used for assassinations by tricking the victim into shaking hands, it is also used as a hand-to-hand weapon and can even be used as a battery for powering machinery.

Harpoon Gun -The Joker's harpoon gun initially takes the appearence of a harmless toy gun that shoots a small flag reading "BANG!". However, after a second pull of the trigger, the flag blasts out of the barrel and impales the target.

Acid Flower - The flower that the Joker wears on his lapel can squirt a wide variety of chemicals. The chemical in the flower depends on the Joker's mood - it can be poison, Joker venom, acid, water or even nothing at all.

Boxing Glove Arm - In some incarnations the Joker has been shown to possess a spring-loaded mechanical arm with a boxing glove on the end. Whilst it appears to be harmless, the force of the spring is shown to be extremely powerful enough to knock people out.

Long-barreled gun - This bizarre weapon that the Joker pulls out of his pants (which would be impossible given the gun barrel's size) is powerful enough to take down the Batwing with one shot.


Unique Physiology:
Due to his chemical submergence, Joker has gained beyond average advantages over normal humans as well as further exposure has tainted his physiology.

Pain Resistance: It is speculated that the Joker's exposure to chemicals may have heightened his resistance to pain. It is also implied that he is masochistic in nature, and thus enjoys any pain received, making it an ineffective way of dealing with him.

Tainted Blood: Joker's blood is tainted. It has been said that "being an avid consumer of his products, Joker's immunity to poisons has been built up over years of dedicated abuse." When a mosquito sucks the Joker's blood, it "writhes and whines, choking on tainted blood".

Joker Venom Immunity:
The Joker is immune to his own venom as well as various similar toxins.

Cheating Death: The Joker has cheated death numerous times, even in seemingly inescapable and lethal situations. He has been, among other things, caught in explosions, electrocuted, shot repeatedly and dropped from great heights, but he always returns to once again wreak havoc.

Comic Awareness: The Joker has, at times, shown to be fully aware of being a comic book character, even directly talking to the reader. However, most characters ignore this, due to the fact that he is criminally insane.


Genius-level Intellect:
The Joker is portrayed as highly intelligent and skilled in the fields of chemistry and engineering, as well an expert with explosives. From his first appearance onward, he has been consistently portrayed as capable of hijacking broadcasts - usually news programs - of both the television and radio varieties.

Inventive Skill: The Joker commits crimes with countless "comedic" weapons and Joker venom.

Brilliant criminal mastermind
Master of psychology
Expert Strategist
Master Manipulator
Excellent actor and the master of transformation

Hand-to-Hand Combat:
The Joker has moderate skill in hand to hand combat. Over the years it has been shown that although Batman is stronger, the Joker is faster and more agile. The Joker has been known to be able to hold his own in hand-to-hand combat against Batman, however every time he is subdued by Batman, it is through physical force. However, the Joker has proven to be very skilled in the area of martial arts as well, this being proven when beating the Batman once in a fight without "cheating".

Marksmanship: The Joker is an excellent marksman with various firearms.

Throwing: Joker can throw playing cards with great accuracy.

Intimidation: Joker is adept at torturing his victims endlessly, including shooting Batgirl, torturing Robin to death and beating Damian into submission.

Joker is served in his crimes by various henchmen but out of all of them is his loyal accomplice and on-off sidekick/lover Harley Quinn who is the closest thing to Joker then his "Acid Flower". Harley Quinn formally known as Harleen Quinzel was an Arkham Asylum psychiatrist who falls for the Joker after volunteering to analyze him with a couple of sessions but falling in love with him and becoming just as sadistic and violent as her "puddin". She is madly in love with him; whether or not he returns her feelings is a constant discussion of debate among fans.

It can be argued that the Joker is one of Batman’s greatest enemies. He isn’t as smart as Ra’s Al Ghul, as strong as Bane, or as conniving as The Penguin, but maybe it is his completely random behavior and chilling ruthlessness that Batman has trouble dealing with. The Joker seems to live for causing havoc, and delights at making Batman squirm.
Being Batman’s archenemy, the Joker has chosen not just Batman, but his friends and teammates to attack as well. He killed Jason Todd, also known as Robin, who was the second to pick up that mantle. He shot and paralyzed Barbara Gordon, Commissioner Jim Gordon’s daughter and was also responsible for the death of Jim’s wife, Sarah. The Joker lives to bring havoc to the world and his favorite person to torture has usually been Batman. 


Like many Batman fans, The Joker is one my favorite Batman villains next to Hush (Future Character Spotlight). I strongly believe that the character is the most well known comic book villain of all time and I mean that literally. Batman has one of the greatest Rogue Galleries in the Comic Book Universe but out of all of them on the list, The Joker tops them all of being the one that can push Batman over the edge and question his code or morals.

I’m also in the majority that enjoys the current interpretation of the character in which he’s depicted as a murderous psychopath. He and The Batman are opposite sides of the same coin: The Batman is order and justice while The Joker is total chaos and destruction. The Joker is the antithesis of The Batman. I mean you can't have a Batman without a Joker...just the same with you can't have Superman without Lex Luthor. Its the Yin and the Yang, One can't exist without the other.  

Though he may be Batman's undisputed arch-nemesis, The Joker has always held some kind of respect for Batman, saying in "The Dark Knight", "Why would I kill you? What would I do without you?". He also acknowledges that Batman will never kill him, as that is Batman's only rule, and since The Joker will not kill Batman, they are truly destined to fight forever. As The Joker says, "This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object."

As far as the non-comic book interpretations of the character, I rank The Joker from 90's Batman: The Animated Series that was voiced by Mark Hamill (also know as Luke Skywalker from Star Wars) to be the best by far for a cartoon interpretation. While Jack Nicholson’s performance as The Joker in 1989’s BATMAN was quite good, it was Nicholson on the big screen acting like The Joker first and foremost. But by far, Heath Ledger's Oscar Winning Performance as The Clown Prince of Crime is the Best Live Action Performance of the psychotic villain to date.

In all his shapes and forms, The Joker remains as one of the scariest and most ingenious of all comic book villain history.

-Brian Lansangan
follow me on Twitter @MrSnugglenutz84

No comments:

Post a Comment


We’re all here for the same reason: to share information, to discuss all things pop-culture, to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit happens to be.

Criticism is valuable as long as it is "constructive", but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!