Table of Contents

Part XI

1. The Joker (DC Comics)

[The Joker]

Why I Like Him: The Clown Prince of Crime, the Harlequin of Hate, and the Ace of Knaves, the Joker is a media giant, his reach nearly extending across every country and continent in the world. For the past 70 years or so he has been the arch rival to one of the most heralded super heroes of all time, and he has done so without super powers. He has crippled heroes (Barbara Gordon -Batgirl/Oracle), killed heroes (Jason Todd - Robin II), sparred with the greats (Wonder Woman, Superman, the Flash) and keeps coming again and again and again. Few villains have ever experienced the longevity, notoriety, and popularity of the Joker, and since he seems to still be running strong after all these years few probably ever will.

[The Joker]

Depicted in the 1960s TV series by Latin sensation Cesar Romero, the Joker was portrayed largely as a harmless super thief who used jokes, riddles, and party favor weaponry to pull heists. Romero delivers a strong performance as the Joker, and is just really fun to watch perform as the demented clown. For the Batography hosted by Adam West follow the link below:

[The Joker]

Jack Nicholson would be the next to reprise the role decades later in Tim Burton's take on Batman. While Jack doesn't have exactly the ideal build for the Joker, he managed to encompass the insanity, the essence of what it means to be the Joker. The way he carried himself, the way he talked, the way he laughed, it may not have been classic Joker, but never had I seen anything that embodied the spirit of the Joker so well. To really understand what I'm talking about I also grabbed a few clips of Jack's performance in Batman, although I really think it's the museum scene that truly was his best work (Note: Youtube seems to be deleting this clips as fast as I find them. I'll try to keep them updated):

[The Joker]

Mark Hamill was the next to pick up the mantle in the animated series. This is the same series that spawned the only cartoon character to ever be carried over into a successful comic book series, the Joker's #1 gal Harley Quinn. (see Mad Love for more on their relationship, it's the best cartoon every done by the Animated series) Hamill's voice for the Joker may seem like an unconventional choice, but it was perfect and he managed to pull it off extremely well. While not able to show the true psychotic nature of the Joker, they brought a dark edge back to the Joker that was slowly dulling over time. Below is the producers and director of the series commenting on the Joker:

Which brings us to present day, and the upcoming Batman film where the Joker is once again going to square off with the Dark Knight on screen. Heath Ledger is slated to portray the Clown Prince, and they're supposedly taking the Joker to a new dark, scary place that the Joker has not seen in years. From what I hear about it I greatly approve, as this should be the best portrayal of the Joker to date.

The Joker is said to have many different origin stories, and I believe I've read all of them. In "The Killing Joke" (which is a must read for Joker fans) he even comments on his multiple origin stories, saying that if he has to have a past he'd prefer it to be multiple choice. He was strong armed by some gangsters to help them raid a chemical warehouse he used to work in. They dressed him up as the supervillain the Red Hood, and when Batman arrived on the scene a fight ensued that ended up with the Joker getting dropped in a vat of chemicals. The most recent addition to the storyline was that the gangsters had the wife of the Joker killed to make sure he wouldn't wuss out of the operation, and after the identity of her killer was revealed to the Joker by the Riddler, he began a hunt to find the man who murdered his wife.

The Joker's unpredictability is his greatest strength, the one thing that has kept him on par with all others in the DC universe. Lex Luthor, Superman, the Green Lantern, no one can predict the Joker's next move and as a result at one point or another all have been laid low by him or one of his plans. Even if you're an ally of the Joker you're hardly safe, which makes him undoubtedly, in my opinion, the greatest villain of all time.

"Haven't you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?"The Joker

Vicki Vale: You're insane!
Joker: I thought I was a Pisces!

"I'm only laughing on the outside
My smile is just skin deep
If you could see inside I'm really crying
You might join me for a weep."
The Joker

"You can't kill me without becoming like me. I can't kill you without losing the only human being who can keep up with me. Isn't it ironic?!"The Joker

"I could never kill you. Where would the act be without my straight man?"The Joker

"Notice the hideously bloated sense of humanity's importance. The club-footed social conscience and the withered optimism. It's certainly not for the squeamish is it? Most repulsive of all are its frail and useless notions of order and sanity. If too much weight is placed upon them... they snap... faced with the inescapable fact that human existence is mad, random, and pointless, one in eight of them crack up and go stark slavering buggo! Who can blame them? In a world as psychotic as this... any other response would be crazy!"The Joker

"All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day. You had a bad day once. Am I right? You had a bad day and everything changed"The Joker

"It's all a joke! Everything anybody ever valued or struggled for... it's all a monstrous, demented gag! So why can't you see the funny side? Why aren't you laughing?"The Joker