Today I will pay tribute to the character many consider to be the greatest comic book villain ever created. He’s Batman’s arch nemesis, and while he may look like a clown, his antics are rarely funny to the good people of Gotham City. Of course, I’m talking about the Joker!
The upcoming Suicide Squad movie will bring yet another incarnation of the Joker to film, so I figured I’d take a brief look back at the “Clown Prince of Crime’s” history. (Note: I found most of this info online, so if I’m wrong about something, take it up with Wikipedia.)
The comic book version of the Joker debuted in Batman #1, and apparently was slated to be a one-off villain who died at the end of the issue. An editorial decision changed his fate (although it’s not like death has ever stopped a comic character from returning before), and the Joker returned several times over the next few issues. In his early appearances, the Joker’s smile was mostly ironic. He was a somber killer who despite his permanent smile, didn’t seem to be enjoying himself much.
In the 1940’s, there was a push to make comics more family friendly. A disfigured mass murderer didn’t seem to mesh well with the new direction, so the writers made the Joker into more of a wacky nuisance who utilized clown props and set elaborate traps for Batman. This was the basis for Cesar Romero’s portrayal in the Batman TV show, and as a result, this is how most non-comic fans thought of the character.
In the ’70s, with the TV show a fading memory, the comic version of the Joker changed once again. He became somewhat of a combination of the previous incarnations. He would still utilize clown-like props, but now he used them to deadly effect. He also experienced maniacal glee at his crimes. Jack Nicholson used this as the basis for his performance in the 1989 movie, and the classic Batman animated series from the ’90s followed suit. In hindsight, it’s amazing this worked so well since having an insane murderer on a children’s TV show isn’t the easiest thing to pull off.
Since then, anytime Batman appears on TV or film, there is almost guaranteed to be a Joker to go along with him. The most memorable, of course, being Heath Ledger’s version in The Dark Knight.
It’s ironic that the writers wanted to kill the Joker in his first appearance because they thought having recurring villains would make Batman look weaker. As it turns out, one of the most prominent long-running theme of the Batman’s comics is how Batman – as well as other heroes – refuses to kill the Joker, despite all his crimes.
I have a soft spot for the Joker since I bear somewhat of a resemblance to him. While I’m not insane (OR AM I???), I can do a creepy Joker-like smile and cackle frighteningly.
Every year, I say that I want to be the Joker for Halloween. And then every October, I realize that I’d need to get a bunch of stuff for the costume, and it seems like too much work. So maybe I should start planning now. I’ll track down a purple suit and green wig somewhere, and then all I’ll need to do is slap on some white face makeup.
If I go to that much trouble, it would only make sense for me to wear the costume to work. I think my co-workers will get a kick out of it, and they’ll probably especially enjoy it when I sneak up behind their desks and whisper, “Why so serious?”
I know what you’re probably thinking: Wait, isn’t he going to share a clip of Batman and Joker having a surf-off? Of course I’m going to share a clip of Batman and the Joker having a surf-off!
This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was J and the topic was “Joker”