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 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.Cool new fact?
- Photo: Marvel & DC Comics2
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.Cool new fact?
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.Cool new fact?
In One Reality, Bruce Wayne's Mother Is The Joker
Whenever Barry Allen, AKA the Flash, mucks about with time, things get a little wonky. When this happens during the 2011 crossover story arc Flashpoint, it messes up the entire DC Universe. In the new reality, Thomas Wayne is able to fight off the guy who slays him and his wife, but their son Bruce Wayne loses his life. With her son deceased, Martha Wayne goes a little funny in the head and becomes the Joker.
With Bruce Wayne gone, there is no way he can grow up to become Batman, but that doesn't mean there isn't a Batman in the Flashpoint reality. Thomas Wayne assumes the role of the Dark Knight, and is a much deadlier version of the character than his son would have become. He operates more violently and doesn't have any sort of "one rule" to stop himself.
Similarly, the Joker is insanely aggressive, though that's not too different from the standard-issue Joker in the pre-Flashpoint reality. Her insanity, however, does lead to an interesting dynamic between Batman and the Joker that doesn't exist in most DC realities, thanks to their being married to one another.Cool new fact?