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Incarnations of The Joker

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Comics Edit

New EarthEdit

Main article: Joker

Earth-3Edit

The Earth-3 version of the Joker, The Jokester, appears as a hero battling the Crime Society of America, an evil version of Earth-Two's Justice Society.

Earth-9Edit

An alternate Joker appeared in the DC Comics imprint Tangent Comics, a line set in on an alternate earth. The heroes have the same names (Flash, Batman, etc.), but their histories and powers are vastly different. This earth is now listed as Earth-9.

The Joker of this Earth is a female hero who uses her array of jokes and comical devices to mock the tyrant Superman's authority. This Joker is actually three women: a student named Mary Marvel, an entrepreneur named Christina Zabundu, and a reporter, Lori Lemaris. Mary is eventually captured by the evil Superman and tortured into giving up the names of the other two before she is killed. Lemaris is sent to prison, but Christina's fate is unknown. Later, Lemaris reclaims the mantle of the Joker in order to take down Superman.

Earth-31 (AKA the "Millerverse")Edit

In Frank Miller's 1986 story The Dark Knight Returns, the Joker, in wake of Batman's retirement, has been comatose for the last decade. When the Dark Knight comes out of retirement, however, the Joker soon awakens as well with the words "Batman... darling."

Now awakened, the Joker wastes no time in convincing the doctors at Arkham that he has been rehabilitated. One psychiatrist in particular decides to take him to an evening talk show, where he kills the entire studio with his Joker Venom and escapes to an amusement park. From there, he proceeds to murder an entire Cub Scout troop with poisoned cotton candy.

Batman and his new Robin (Carrie Kelly) arrive at the park to confront the Joker, and while Kelly battles the Joker's men, Batman chases him into the tunnel of love, where the two of them engage in one last battle. Batman, realizing that his old foe is too dangerous to be let back into incarceration, partially twists the madman's spine and paralyzes him. Joker, however, turns this action into his favor by twisting his spine all the way, killing himself and framing Batman for his murder.

In the sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, one of the secondary antagonists possesses an appearance identical to that of the Joker. It is eventually revealed that this new Joker is Dick Grayson (AKA Robin I), driven insane by radical gene therapy at the hands of Lex Luthor.

The Joker also makes an appearance in the prequel to these two stories, All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, as a criminal who has committed several sex crimes.

Elseworlds, Crossovers, etc.Edit

  • Planetary/Batman presents the Joker as a field agent for Planetary working under Richard Grayson named Jaspar. Jaspar has a habit of giggling when he's nervous, but otherwise harmless.
  • The Joker makes a cameo appearance in the 1989 Elseworlds graphic novel Gotham by Gaslight as a serial killer who tries to kill himself with strychnine, leaving him with a permanent grin.
  • In the 1990 graphic novel Batman: Digital Justice created by Pepe Moreno, an artificial intelligence calling itself the "Joker Virus" takes over a futuristic, technology-dependent Gotham City in the late 21st century and claims to be the reincarnation of its creator, the original Joker. It is stopped by a future Batman—the grandson of Commissioner James Gordon—and another AI, the Batcomputer programmed by a long-dead Bruce Wayne.
  • The 1993 Elseworlds story Batman/Houdini: The Devil's Workshop portrays the Joker as a child abductor named Jack Schadenfreude.
  • The Joker also makes an appearance in Batman: Bloodstorm, the second part of the Red Rain Elseworlds trilogy. Here, he is shown to have taken control of the slain Dracula's horde of vampires. Together, they are able to take over Gotham's underworld almost completely, but most of the horde is obliterated by a team of vampire hunters, consisting of the likes of the vampire Batman, Alfred, Comissioner Gordon, Catwoman (now transformed into a werecat), and several Gotham PD detectives. Batman and Catwoman confront the Joker and his remaining minions in a warehouse, where Catwoman is killed with a crossbow. Furious, Batman loses control of himself, snaps the Joker's neck, and drains his blood.
  • In the 1994 Elseworlds story Batman: Leatherwing, the Joker is portrayed as "The Laughing Man", and like Batman (portrayed as "Captain Leatherwing"), is a pirate captain. He wishes to find Leatherwing's secret port, "The Bat's Bay", and to this end, convinces another pirate named Captain Felina (Catwoman) to seduce Leatherwing while he pillages the port. In the end, Felina betrays The Laughing Man when she falls in love with Captain Leatherwing, and a fierce battle between the two captains ensue. During the battle, The Laughing Man utilizes a trick sword that produces a pistol, with which he shoots Robin Redblade. Furious, Captain Leatherwing kills The Laughing Man and sinks his ship.
  • Dark Joker: The Wild, another 1994 Elseworlds story, portrays the Joker as a much feared dark wizard in a Medieval fantasy setting. In the beginning of the story, he storms the castle of a pair of married sorcerers, kills them brutally, steals a talisman that he believes to hold a great magical power, and tossing their just-born child out the window. For the next twenty years, he attempts, in vain, to open the cask that the talisman is inside (and in the meantime, slaughters the people of a nearby village for fun). It is revealed by the sorceress Saressa that in this timeline, the Joker was a sadistic torture master, transformed into his present state by The Light, the only force capable of opposing his dark magic. Eventually, he is able to open the cask and unleash much chaos onto the land, but unknown to him, the baby did not die, as he was created to combat his Dark Magic. Over twenty years, the baby has grown into a benevolent Bat-Demon, who eventually leads the villagers to defeat Dark Joker's demon army and kill him.
  • Batman/Captain America (1996) features the Joker teaming up with Captain America villain and Nazi leader Red Skull. After discovering that his new partner is a Nazi, the Joker turns on him, only to be subdued by Red Skull's soldiers.
  • Batman: Thrillkiller features a female Joker by the name of Bianca Steeplechase, who is a ruthless drug pusher that has little in common with her male counterpart. At the end of its sequel, Thrillkiller '62, she gets into a lesbian relationship with Harley Quinn (portrayed here as a rebellious teenager).
  • The 1998 Elseworlds story Batman: Two Faces portrays the Joker as a serial killer who kills young women, much like Jack the Ripper. In the end, it is revealed that he is actually Batman/Bruce Wayne's dual personality, created due to a potion that Bruce takes to increase his strength (a la Jekyll and Hyde). A three-way fight between Batman/Joker, Comissioner Gordon, and Two-Face (whom Bruce believes will be cured of his split personality with the potion) ensues, ending when Bruce manages to take control of himself for a brief moment and makes himself fall off the building, killing the Joker once and for all.
  • Batman: I, Joker describes a dystopian Gotham city many years into the future, where Batman (AKA "The Bruce") is worshiped as a god. Every year, enemies of this Gotham are captured, surgically made to look like the Dark Knight's Rogues Gallery, and slaughtered in a yearly bloodsport by people in makeshift Batman costumes. This story is told from the perspective of a particular year's "Joker", who, after the doctor in charge of transforming them rebels, begins to slowly recover his own memories. Eventually, he is able to defeat the current "Bruce", takes up the mantle, along with his girlfriend, who becomes the new Robin.
  • Batman/Lobo has the Joker kicking off the main plot by hiring intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo to hunt down and kill Batman. In the end, the Joker calls the hunt off when he realizes that he is Batman's twin brother, Joey Wayne.
  • Joker (2008) features yet another version of the Clown Prince of Crime, this one obviously based off of Heath Ledger's interpretation. In contrast to Ledger's anarchy-loving terrorist, however, this Joker is portrayed as more of a crime boss, who, upon his release from Arkham (the reasons behind which were never revealed) clashes and plots with a variety of Batman's rogues (from Killer Croc to the Riddler to Two-Face) in his quest to regain his criminal empire.

In other mediaEdit

Live-actionEdit

Batman (TV series)Edit

Main article: Joker (1966 Batman Television Series)

Cesar Romero portrays the character in 19 episodes of the 1960s Batman television series. The Joker of this series is characterized by a cackling laugh and comedy-themed crimes, such as turning the city's water supply into jelly, beating Batman in a surfing competition, and pulling off a bank heist based on a stand-up comedy routine. Romero refused to shave his distinctive mustache for the role, and it was partially visible beneath his white face makeup. Romero reprises his role in the 1966 film Batman.

Batman (film)Edit

Main article: Joker (1989 Batman film)

The Joker is portrayed by Jack Nicholson in the 1989 film Batman in a very popular and well received version of the character. In the film, the character is a gangster named Jack Napier who is disfigured when he falls into a vat of chemicals during a confrontation with Batman (Michael Keaton). His trademark grin is the result of a botched attempt at plastic surgery. Driven insane by his reflection, he launches a crime wave designed to "outdo" Batman, who he feels is getting too much press. While he was simply a cold-blooded criminal as Jack Napier, as the Joker he describes himself as a "homicidal artist" who makes "art" by killing people. When Bruce Wayne confronts the Joker, he later recognizes him as the mugger who murdered his parents. At the end of the film, the Joker falls to his death. In the flashback scene showing Napier's murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, Napier is played by Hugo E. Blick. Newsweek's review of the film stated that the best scenes in the movie are due to the surreal black comedy portrayed in this character.

Batman Forever, OnStar commercials and Birds of PreyEdit

Main article: Joker (Birds of Prey)

In Batman Forever the Joker is shown in his former identity of Jack Napier played by David U. Hodges but credited as "Shooter".

During the OnStar "Batman" ad campaign, the Joker appears in one commercial, played by Curtis Armstrong. Roger Stoneburner makes a cameo appearance as the character in an episode of Birds of Prey. Mark Hamill, who voiced the Joker in various animated shows throughout the 1990s, provides the Joker's voice in the scene, and he is the only one of the two actors to be credited.

The Dark KnightEdit

Main article: Joker (The Dark Knight)

In 2008's The Dark Knight, the character is portrayed by Heath Ledger, who told Sarah Lyall of The New York Times that he viewed that film's version of the Joker as a "psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy. He is introduced as a bank robber targeting mob banks, but when hired to kill Batman (played by Christian Bale), reveals his desire to upset social order, and comes to define himself by his struggle with Batman. Costume designer Lindy Hemming described the Joker's look as being based around his personality, in which "he doesn't care about himself at all." She avoided his design being vagrant, but nonetheless it is "scruffier, grungier and therefore when you see him move, he's slightly twitchier or edgy." Unlike most incarnations, where his appearance is a result of chemical bleaching, this Joker sports a Glasgow smile, and accentuates it through unevenly applied white, black, and red make-up, he also has faded green hair. Accordingly, he still leaves his victims with post-mortem smiles throughout the film, but with the use of a knife and make-up rather than chemical manipulation. During the course of the film, he tells conflicting stories about how he acquired the scars, which involve child abuse and self-mutilation. He mostly eschews gag-based weapons common to the character, in favor of knives, firearms, and an array of explosive devices.

Ledger's portrayal of The Joker was greatly praised by both fans and critics. Jeff Labrecque writes that Ledger's "seething anarchist Joker makes Jack Nicholson's once-iconic dandy now seem as clownish as Cesar Romero's." Nevertheless, other critics preferred Nicholson´s Joker. On February 22, 2009, Ledger posthumously won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. He was the fourth actor to be nominated for the portrayal of a comic book character, and the first to win.

AnimationEdit

Early animated seriesEdit

Main article: [[Joker (Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder)]], Joker (Super Friends), and Joker (The New Adventures of Batman)]]

The Joker appeared as a recurring villain in the 1968-1969 Filmation series Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder, played by voice actor Larry Storch. Storch reprises his role for two crossover episodes of the 1972 series The New Scooby-Doo Movies. He also appears in five episodes of Filmation's 1977 series The New Adventures of Batman, where he was voiced by Lennie Weinrib. The Joker makes an appearance in the final incarnation of Super Friends, The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, in the episode "The Wild Cards", which features a version of the Royal Flush Gang. The leader of the group, Ace, turns out to be a disguised Joker (voiced by Frank Welker).

DC animated universeEdit

Main article: Joker (Batman: The Animated Series)

In Batman: The Animated Series, which debuted in 1992, the Joker is voiced by Mark Hamill. In the feature film spin-off Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, it is revealed that he was once a hitman for mobster Sal Valestra. His name, like in the 1989 movie, is mentioned as being Jack Napier, but later episodes offer the notion that this is merely an alias. This Joker's main motivation seems to stem from an obsession with antagonizing Batman, though a few episodes portray him as an egomaniac out to immortalize himself and his criminal career. The Joker also appears in the series' follow-up, The New Batman Adventures, and features prominently as the main villain in the one-hour Batman/Superman crossover episode, World's Finest, in which he travels to Metropolis and attempts to kill Superman in exchange for one billion dollars from Lex Luthor.

Hamill reprises his role in several animated shows in the DC Animated Universe. In the Justice League episode "Wild Cards", he plants a multitude of bombs across Las Vegas and televises the Justice League's attempts to find and disarm them in a mockery of reality television. To add drama to the broadcast, he pits the League against the Royal Flush Gang, which in this version consists of five superpowered teens. The bombs turn out to be a ruse to attract viewership so Ace, a psychic, can render everyone watching the broadcast insane. The plan backfires when, during a fight with Batman, Ace's control collar is removed and she turns her powers on the Joker himself.

The Joker, again voiced by Hamill, is featured in the DCAU film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, mysteriously returning to his criminal activities after having been presumed dead for decades. It is revealed in a flashback that the Joker and Harley Quinn kidnapped Robin (Tim Drake), turning him into a "son" of sorts through torture and chemical treatments. Confused and conflicted, Drake ultimately kills the Joker himself. In a twist, the future Joker is actually Tim, the original having implanted a microchip in Drake which contained his memories and personality. The new Batman (Terry McGinnis) ultimately destroys the chip and saves Tim.

Mark Hamill reprises his role of Joker in the Robot Chicken episode "But Not In That Way". In a segment that parodies Arkham Asylum in the style of The Shawshank Redemption, the Joker is incarcerated there as Black Manta narrates how he did jokes at Arkham, fooled the jailhouse rapists, and even got things from Black Manta to prepare his escape. However, it was all a trick to pull a prank on Batman.

The BatmanEdit

Main article: Joker (The Batman)

A different interpretation of the Joker appears in the animated series The Batman, voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. Compared to the DCAU Joker, this incarnation is much more wild and unkempt, sporting a purple and yellow straitjacket, fingerless gloves, bare feet, wild green hair, and red eyes. The Joker also moves and fights with a Monkey Kung Fu-like style, using his feet as dexterously as his hands, and often hangs from the walls and ceilings (as the series progresses, these abilities do not appear as much). His appearance becomes somewhat refined later in the series, where he adopts the more traditional garb of a purple suit and spats, but he still has wild hair and wears no shoes, save one episode. He employs the signature Joker venom in the form of laughing gas. In the animated feature The Batman vs. Dracula, he is transformed into a vampire, with paler clothes, claws, fangs, and supernatural powers.

Batman: The Brave and the BoldEdit

In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, a heroic counter-part of the Joker known as Red Hood appears in the episode "Deep Cover for Batman". The Joker made his debut on the show in the episode "Game Over for Owlman", a continuation of "Deep Cover", and is voiced by Jeff Bennett. Batman has no option but to team up with Joker to stop Owlman's crime spree when Owlman had been upstaging Joker. Joker makes an appearance in "Legends of the Dark Mite" along with the Penguin and other classic Batman Villians. Joker appears in the teaser to "Hail the Tornado Tyrant!" when he is being tailed by Batman and Green Arrow during a series of robberies. He is captured after his car's many means of propulsion are destroyed by the combined efforts of the heroes.The Joker appears again in the episode "Death Race to Oblivion". His appearance and personality is very similar to the Silver Age version, as drawn by Dick Sprang.

Video gamesEdit

Main article: Video game appearances by The Joker

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