Things You Probably Didn't Know About The Joker
Photo: The Dark Knight / Warner Bros.

Things You Probably Didn't Know About The Joker

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The Joker made his comic book debut in 1940's Batman #1, and he's been a part of the Dark Knight's history ever since. Polar opposites in many ways, the Joker and Batman also have something in common: They don't have superpowers. And at times they've even collaborated. But usually, the Joker is terrifying everyone with his bizarre weaponry and totally unpredictable personality, and he's done it for years in the Batman comics, cartoons, live-action feature films, novels, TV series, and more.

Because the Joker has been around for the better part of a century, you might not know everything about him. This list intends to fill any potential gaps in your knowledge about the white-faced villain.

  •  The Joker's Clap In 'The Dark Knight' Was Improvised
    Photo: The Dark Knight / Warner Bros.
    243 VOTES

    The Joker's Clap In 'The Dark Knight' Was Improvised

    The late Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight was worthy of an Academy Award, and one standout moment never showed up in the script. After the Joker is captured, he finds himself in a cell surrounded by police officers. Jim Gordon is told he's getting one hell of a promotion to police commissioner, so the room breaks out in applause, but one character in particular is clapping in a most unexpected context.

    The Joker begins clapping loudly and with tongue-in-cheek deliberation at the news of Gordon's promotion, causing the surrounding officers to stop and look in his direction. The moment was completely improvised by Ledger - in fact, it's one of the few unscripted moments Nolan left in the finished film.

    243 votes
  • 2
    361 VOTES

    Even The Joker Doesn't Like Nazis

    The Joker has a sick mind that perceives bloodshed as humorous, and there's a lot that makes the man laugh. One thing he doesn't laugh about is the Third Reich, and this is clear during a DC/Marvel crossover called Batman & Captain America.

    In the story, the Red Skull hires the Joker to take an atomic bomb, which he ultimately succeeds in doing. When he returns it to his employer, he's horrified to learn who the Red Skull is, saying, "I may be a criminal lunatic, but I'm an American criminal lunatic!" The Skull later threatens to blow up Washington, DC, and the Joker's interference helps Captain America and Batman stop him.

    361 votes
  • The Joker Wasn't Supposed To Survive His First Appearance
    Photo: DC Comics
    201 VOTES

    The Joker Wasn't Supposed To Survive His First Appearance

    When the Joker was introduced in Batman #1 in 1940, he was a minor character and the plan was to kill him off in that story, but he was spared by the book's editor, Whitney Ellsworth. According to comic book writer Steve Englehart in an NPR interview, Ellsworth said, "Wait a minute - this guy is pretty good!"

    Batman wasn't meant to terminate the newly introduced villain; instead, the Joker was supposed to accidentally take his own life by driving a knife into his own chest instead of Batman's. The scene plays out in the book, but instead of perishing, the Joker survives. This decision was made only after the art was already finished, leaving room for a final text change in which a doctor pronounces the Joker still alive.

    That made it seem as if his survival was crammed into the story at the last minute, and that's exactly what happened when Ellsworth saved him.

    201 votes
  • 4
    188 VOTES

    The Joker Is Based On A Character From A 1928 Silent Film

    The Joker may seem like he was inspired by a deck of playing cards, but in reality, he was derived from a 1928 silent film called The Man Who Laughs, by German filmmaker Paul Leni, based on the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo. Joker creators Jerry Robinson, Bob Kane, and Bill Finger all told somewhat different accounts of the impetus for the Joker, but they all did agree that Finger drew an image of actor Conrad Veidt's character, Gwynplaine, from the film as a sketch of a joker playing card.

    In the film, Gwynplaine has a permanently disfigured face, which results in his constant and unnerving smile. There were other inspirations for the character's clothing and mannerisms, but looking at an image of Veidt's Gwynplaine solidifies the notion that his face came from the character in The Man Who Laughs.

    188 votes
  • 5
    222 VOTES

    The Joker's Scars In 'The Dark Knight' Are Reminiscent Of The Glasgow Smile

    In Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, the Joker's scars appear similar to a real type of scar called the Glasgow smile.

    The Glasgow smile originated in Scotland. When done "properly," the scar is created by making a cut from the corners of a target's mouth up to their ears. It's often done via a utility knife or piece of broken glass. The scars ultimately make it look like the person is permanently smiling.

    Scottish actor Tommy Flanagan received a Glasgow smile when he was attacked outside a bar in Scotland. He opted not to get plastic surgery to repair the damage, preferring instead to call attention to the ghastly practice.

    222 votes
  • The Joker Is The Only Sane Person In Bizarro World
    Photo: DC Comics
    205 VOTES

    The Joker Is The Only Sane Person In Bizarro World

    On the DC Comics planet of Bizarro World, otherwise known as Htrae (Earth spelled backward), everything is the opposite of how it is normally. The planet is shaped like a cube, and everyone on the planet is the polar opposite of their normal representation. Bizarro Superman, for example, has freeze vision and flame breath instead of heat vision and freeze breath. 

    Interestingly, there is a version of the Joker on Bizarro World, and in a world gone mad, he's the only person who is sane. So in Bizarro World, the Joker knows that everything is off, and instead of laughing all the time, he cries and is depressed. Oddly enough, he's still named the Joker despite the fact that he and his life are a far cry from anything funny.

    205 votes