False Things Everyone Believes About The Joker

The Joker is the most recognizable comic book
supervillain of all time, but pinning down the facts is harder than it sounds. You’ve probably always believed these misconceptions
about the Joker. Put a smile on that face and learn the truth. Most people think they know the Joker’s origin:
he was a gangster called the Red Hood who one day ran afoul of Batman, fell into a vat
of toxic chemicals, and came out with his skin dyed chalk white and his mouth twisted
into a grin. The classic narrative first showed up way
back in 1951, but was enhanced by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke, which
added even more tragic details. It’s a popular origin story, but calling it
“definitive” is a bit of a stretch. “Wait’ll they get a load of me.” As we saw on the screen in The Dark Knight,
the Joker often tells contradictory stories of his past. The Red Hood tale was meant to be a secret
origin in the beginning, but he’s also told different stories over the years. He’s claimed that his white skin was caused
by his abusive aunt scrubbing him with bleach as a boy, or that his trademark smile was
actually the result of Batman’s batarang slicing his lips open. All these origin stories might be complete
lies, and that’s the point. The less we know, the creepier he is. Despite what you might’ve heard, Gotham’s
scariest criminal has no confirmed origin and no confirmed name. “Nothing in his pockets but knives and lint.” You’ve probably heard the name “Jack Napier,”
but that was created for Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie. It’s actually the combination of two different
influences. Not only is it a pun on “Jackanapes,” another
term for a loudmouth fool – or, you know, a joker – it’s also a tribute to Alan Napier,
the actor who played Alfred in the campy 1960s TV series. Outside of the film, however, the Joker’s
name is almost always listed as “unknown.” It’s worth noting that in 2017, writer Sean
Gordon Murphy elected to use the Jack Napier identity for his comic book Batman: White
Knight, a story about the Joker being “cured” of his insanity and dedicating his life to
helping Gotham City by ridding it of Batman. As interesting as it is, White Knight is not
considered an official part of continuity, and is heavily influenced by Batman: The Animated
Series, where “Jack Napier” was once used as one of the joker’s many aliases. The Joker has always been a popular villain,
but Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight definitively reinvented the character
for the 2000s, and earned Ledger a posthumous Academy Award for best supporting actor. When Ledger tragically passed away from a
sedative overdose in the months leading up to the film’s release, plenty of moviegoers
were willing to accept the idea that the actor’s death was due to him feeling “haunted” by
his sinister performance. The truth is neither that simple nor that
sensational. In the documentary I Am Heath Ledger, among
other places, Ledger’s sister Kate has directly spoken out against claims that the Joker role
killed her brother, saying, “He had an amazing sense of humor, and I guess
maybe only his family and friends knew that, but he was having fun. He wasn’t depressed about the Joker!” Ledger had struggled with insomnia for years,
long before his Joker days, and it’s believed that his overuse of sedatives to treat it
may have actually begun after his breakup with Michelle Williams. By all accounts, his overdose was a tragic
accident. Batman definitely hates the Joker. How could he not? The “Clown Prince of Crime” is the antithesis
of everything Batman stands for, and has made a habit of killing Bruce Wayne’s loved ones. However, what makes their rivalry so interesting
is that the Joker absolutely loves everything about Batman, maybe even to a romantic degree. In Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns,
Batman hangs up his cape for a decade, and Joker is so depressed by the retirement of
his “partner” that he falls into a nearly catatonic state. When Batman returns, Joker’s life is given
purpose again, and he goes on a new streak of mass murders. The Joker’s crimes aren’t done despite Batman’s
interference, but because he wants Batman’s attention. He’s even gone as far as saying that he hopes
his conflict with Batman goes on forever. There’s a reason this was the entire plot
of the LEGO Batman Movie. “You’re the reason I’ve given up a life spent
with Russian ballerinas and lady activewear models.” Aside from the fact that real-life bats never
really fight real-life clowns, the dynamic between Batman and the Joker is unbelievably
perfect. Batman is a dark hero who creeps in the shadows,
facing off against a bright, colorful villain who walks in broad daylight. Batman has dedicated his life to preserving
and restoring order through intense training and planning, and the Joker, well… “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” It’s so perfect that it must’ve been planned
that way from the very beginning, right? Wrong. At the beginning, Joker was never supposed
to be Batman’s archenemy. When the clown first showed up in the pages
of 1940’s Batman #1, the original plan was to kill off Joker after only two appearances,
both within the same issue. Bizarre as it might sound today, the villain
was rescued by intervention from above. When the creative team drafted Joker dying
from a knife wound in Batman #1, editor Whitney Ellsworth thought the character had too much
potential and instructed the artist to insert an additional panel, depicting the villain
being rescued by an ambulance. Considering how popular this killer clown
has become in the decades since, it seems like Ellsworth made the right call. One of the most enduring elements of the Batman
mythos is the idea that his secret identity is absolutely necessary. “Bruce Wayne? Why are you dressed up like Batman?” Not only is he acting outside of the law himself,
but it also stands to reason that if the bad guys knew who he was and where he lived, Wayne
Manor would be a crater within 24 hours – 22 if Harvey Dent was involved. With that in mind, it seems like it would
be catastrophic if Batman’s arch-nemesis, the Joker, learned who it was beneath the
mask. Don’t be fooled, though. Joker might not invade Wayne Manor every week,
but he knows many secrets about the man behind the mask. While it was hinted at before, the Joker’s
knowledge of Batman’s secret identity came to light in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s
Endgame storyline. The thing is, Joker neither cares about nor
wants to engage with Bruce Wayne’s life: It’s Batman he wants to play with. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite
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