In the final Joker scene from The Dark Knight (2008), Joker falls off the Prewitt Building to his death. A traditional villain in such scenario will get grief stricken and pray to be saved miraculously – but not Joker. We, on the contrary, hear him laughing menacingly – unperturbed by the fate he meets! For he knows the Batman won’t let him die!
The above is merely a glimpse of what the Joker is supposed to be – an arch nemesis to the Batman with a smirk on his face and scheme on his mind. His generic character remains the same throughout the 75-year-old history of his character. What has changed is the portrayal of it in various sections of media. We try to figure out how the character has changed its demeanor, while keeping his original traits intact.
First Appearance: The Inception of Insanity
“The Man Who Laughs” is how the character got introduced into comic books as a villain who is disfigured in personality and a peril to Batman. In Batman #1, his first appearance in the year 1940, Joker appears as a serial killer who uses “Joker Venom” to damage his victims’ mouths in upsetting smiles – permanently! During the 50s and 60s, Joker’s chaos was considered so brutal, the comics decided to prohibit the character altogether.
Re-Appearing After a “Hiatus”: The Goofed Up Style
After suffering a ban of sorts, he made a comeback in 1966 Batman TV Series, but the menace was sidelined in favor of a goofier version this time. This didn’t stop the character’s popularity from rising, though. It was not until 1973 when Joker returned to his original self in Batman #251. This was also the time Arkham Asylum got introduced. Joker not only reverted to his frightening self, but his physical appearance too got a makeover. He got leaner, taller and was a better match to Batman’s physical strength, this time, around.
The Joker: Starring the DC Comic
For the first time in the history of DC Comics, did a Villain star in his own comics – spreading the plague that Joker already was. The following two years turned out to be even more important for the character when the Joker starts to get messier, his hair become green and he also gets, well, a Trench Coat! This version influenced 1989’s film Batman and hence, Jack Nicholson’s interpretation came into being. With the first time on big screen, Nicholson as Joker made more impact than Keaton could as the titular Batman!
1992: Batman – The Animated Series
This year proved to be monumental in building Joker’s position in the DC Universe as pivotal, to say the least. The dark tone kept getting darker and Joker got to experiment a bit with his love interest too – Harley Quinn, his on-again-off-again girlfriend on the series. The series continued to make his mark and cemented his position as an equal (if not more) than Batman himself.
Heath Ledger: First Among Equals
The introductory segment in this article was a part played by Ledger. There are just so many stories on the web that we find it an absolute waste of time to reminisce something all his fans (and that’s all of them) have engraved deep in their hearts. Ledger in Nolan’s Joker brought the character as a psychopathic clown with no empathy to human life and civil order. To play the threat that he is, Ledger locked himself in a room for a month and came out with a performance that deserved nothing less than an Oscar! We lost Heath due to the overdose of prescription drugs – something that was recommended to him for his preparation of Joker’s role.
Jared Leto: Too Close To Joker?
How cool is Jared as Joker ? “Majestic” – David Ayer, Director, Suicide Squad! If the words are any guess, we might see one hell of a performance by Leto. One too many is my guess.
There are just not many comic book characters around that evolve as beautifully as the Joker himself. What’s your favorite Joker?Let us know through the comment section.