Joker in other media

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Adaptations of the Joker in other media
Created by Jerry Robinson (concept)
Bill Finger
Bob Kane
Original source Comics published by DC Comics
First appearance Batman #1 (Spring 1940)
Films and television
Film(s) Batman (1966)
Batman (1989)
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Suicide Squad (2016)
Batman (1966)
Batman: The Animated Series (1992)
The Batman (2004)
Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008)

Although Batman's archenemy, the Joker, originated as a comic book character, he has appeared in several other media. WorldCat (a catalog of libraries in 170 countries) records over 250 productions featuring the Joker as a subject, including films, books, and video games.[1] The Joker has been portrayed by Cesar Romero in the Batman television series, Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton's Batman, Heath Ledger in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, and will soon be portrayed by Jared Leto in the upcoming film Suicide Squad. Throughout the years, Larry Storch, Lennie Weinrib, Frank Welker, Mark Hamill, Michael McKean, Allen Enlow, Kevin Michael Richardson, Jeff Bennett, Steve Blum, Michael Dobson, John Kassir, Richard Epcar, John DiMaggio, Corey Burton, Brent Spiner, Christopher Corey Smith, Michael Emerson, Troy Baker and Dee Bradley Baker have all provided the voice for the character in animated, motion comic, and video game form.



Cesar Romero (standing) in his role as Joker in Batman

Cesar Romero portrays the character in the 1960s Batman television series. Romero refused to shave his distinctive mustache for the role, and it is partially visible beneath his white face makeup.[2] His performance captures how the character was portrayed in comics in the 1960s, which is more of an elaborate prankster than one prone to violent rampage.[3] As a parody of Batman, the Joker develops his own "utility belt" and "Jokermobile." The only information on his past life is a remark by Batman that the Joker had been a hypnotist in his youth.

Of the six Batman OnStar commercials that ran from 2000 to early 2002, the Joker appears in one commercial played by Curtis Armstrong.[4]

Roger Stoneburner makes a cameo appearance as the character in an episode of the 2002–03 series Birds of Prey. Mark Hamill, who voiced the Joker in various animated shows throughout the 1990s, provides Joker's voice in the scene, and he is the only one of the two actors to be credited.[5]


Batman (1966)[edit]

Main article: Batman (1966 film)

Cesar Romero, along with most of the other villains from the 1960s television series, reprises his role in the 1966 film Batman. The Joker is a member of the United Underworld, a gathering of four of the most powerful villains in Gotham City which also includes the Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman.

Batman (1989-1997 film series)[edit]

Main article: Batman (1989 film)
Jack Nicholson portrayed the Joker in the 1989 film to critical acclaim

The Joker appears in the 1989 Batman film, portrayed by Jack Nicholson, who received critical acclaim for his performance; Newsweek‍ '​s review of the film stated that the best scenes in the movie are due to the surreal black comedy portrayed in this character.[6] In 2003, American Film Institute named Nicholson's performance #45 out of 50 greatest film villains.[7] Hugo Blick also plays the Joker in a flashback.[8]

In the film, the Joker starts out as Jack Napier, a gangster employed as the right-hand man of mob boss Carl Grissom (Jack Palance), who becomes disfigured during a confrontation with Batman (Michael Keaton) in a chemical factory when shot through the cheeks by a ricochet from his own pistol before falling into a vat of chemicals, which turns his hair green, his skin chalk white and his lips bright red. A questionable surgeon that Napier sees following the incident leaves him with a permanent rictus grin after he lifts the skin around his mouth to cover the holes. Driven completely insane, the Joker kills Grissom and takes over his syndicate, launching a crime wave designed to outdo Batman, who he feels is getting too much press. Bruce Wayne confronts the Joker and later recognizes him as the mugger who murdered his parents. During Batman and Joker's final battle, they discover each other's identities and realize that they "made each other." As the Joker is about to escape in a helicopter, Batman ties a grappling hook onto the Joker's leg and attaches it to a stone gargoyle, but the Joker falls to his death when the gargoyle breaks loose of its moorings.

He describes himself as "the world's first fully functional homicidal artist" who makes avant-garde "art" by killing people with cosmetics laced with Smilex, which leaves its victims with a grotesque grin similar to his own.[9] New York Magazine claims the film went too far when the Joker defaces his girlfriend (Jerry Hall) in the same manner.[10] In what Newsweek describes as the best scene, the Joker also defaces several prominent paintings of Western art. He saves only one: Francis Bacon's Figure with Meat, telling his henchman, "I kind of like this one, Bob. Leave it."[6]

Jack Napier appears briefly in a flashback in the 1995 film Batman Forever, the third film in the series, portrayed by David U. Hodges. The flashback is a re-creation of the death of Bruce Wayne's parents from the 1989 film.

The Joker was one of the villains to appear in Batman Triumphant, the fifth film planned for the Batman series, with Nicholson reprising his role from the first film.[11] He was to return as a hallucination in Batman's mind caused by the Scarecrow's fear toxin. Harley Quinn was to appear as the Joker's daughter trying to get revenge on Batman for her father's death.[12] Due to the poor reception by critics and fans of Batman & Robin, the fourth film in the series, Batman Triumphant was cancelled.

The Dark Knight (2008)[edit]

The Joker appears in The Dark Knight, portrayed by Heath Ledger, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance,[13] ultimately winning the Oscar.[14] Intending to portray the character as a "psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy"[15] and with a "more chaotic" interpretation (unlike the 1989 Batman incarnation), Ledger lived alone in a hotel room for a month, formulating the character's posture, voice, and personality, and kept a diary in which he recorded the Joker's thoughts and feelings.[16][17] He and Nolan both explained seeing eye-to-eye on the Joker's appearance in the film, sharing common reference points for who the character was going to be.[18] Based on philosophical ideas of anarchy and chaos, they looked at art by Francis Bacon for visual reference and they talked about Malcolm MacDowell's performance as Alex in Stanley Kubrick's film A Clockwork Orange and also the character Alex in Anthony Burgess's novel of the same name.[19] Ledger was given Alan Moore's graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke for preparation for the role. He also read Grant Morrison's graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, which he "really tried to read and put it down."[20] In an interview with MTV, Ledger said he regarded the experience playing the Joker as the most fun he ever had "and probably will ever have."[21] Ledger also cited A Clockwork Orange and Sid Vicious as "a very early starting point for Christian [Bale] and I [sic]. But we kind of flew far away from that pretty quickly and into another world altogether."[22][23] "There's a bit of everything in him. There's nothing that consistent," Ledger said, and added, "There are a few more surprises to him."

Ledger was allowed to shoot and mostly direct the videos the Joker sends out as warnings. Each take Ledger made was different from the last. Nolan was impressed enough with the first video shoot that he chose to not be present when Ledger shot the video with a kidnapped reporter (Anthony Michael Hall).[24] On January 22, 2008, after he had completed filming The Dark Knight, Ledger died of an accidental prescription drug overdose, leading to intense press attention and memorial tributes. "It was tremendously emotional, right when he passed, having to go back in and look at him every day [during editing]," Nolan recalled. "But the truth is, I feel very lucky to have something productive to do, to have a performance that he was very, very proud of, and that he had entrusted to me to finish."[23] All of Ledger's scenes appear as he completed them in the filming; in editing the film, Nolan added no "digital effects" to alter Ledger's actual performance posthumously.[25] Nolan has dedicated the film in part to Ledger's memory.[26][27]

Suicide Squad (2016)[edit]

The Joker (Jared Leto), in promotional material for Suicide Squad (2016)
Main article: Suicide Squad (film)

Academy Award-winning actor and musician Jared Leto will portray the Joker in the DC Extended Universe. The Joker will make his debut in the 2016 film Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer.[28]


The Joker appears in the 2011 theatrical production, Batman Live (portrayed by Mark Frost), in which the character masterminds a plot to defeat Batman by uniting several of the superhero's greatest foes, including Harley Quinn, Riddler, Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, and Scarecrow.[29][30] The show is an adaptation of the Batman property, drawing inspiration from the 1966 television series, the 1989 series of Batman films, and the 1992 animated series, among others.[29][31][32]




The Joker appeared as a recurring villain in the 1968–1969 Filmation series The Adventures of Batman, voiced by Larry Storch.[33] He also appears in five episodes of Filmation's 1977 series The New Adventures of Batman, voiced by Lennie Weinrib.[34]


Storch reprises his role for two crossover episodes of the 1972 series The New Scooby-Doo Movies. In both episodes, he teams up with Penguin and runs afoul of Batman, Robin, and the Mystery Inc. gang.

The Joker makes one appearance in The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (1985–1986), in the episode "The Wild Cards," voiced by Frank Welker.[35][36] In the episode, the Joker assists in Darkseid's latest plot by disguising himself as Ace, the leader of The Royal Flush Gang. Batman deduces Joker's masquerade upon noticing that the Joker's house of cards fortress was short the Joker's namesake card.

Mark Hamill provided the voice of the Joker in the DC Animated Universe.
DC animated universe

The Joker appears in several animated series within in the DC animated universe, a fan term for a collection of TV series and spin-offs produced by Warner Bros. that share the same continuity. The character is always voiced by Mark Hamill, who is often credited as the iconic version of the animated Joker,[37] often for, as he describes, his wide range of "joyful, gleeful, maniacal, [...] malevolent and evil laughs."[38]

The Joker's first appearance in Batman: The Animated Series (1992–1995) is in "Christmas with the Joker," where he escapes Arkham Asylum on Christmas Eve. The series is notable for introducing his accomplice Harley Quinn to such acclaim that she became a character in the comics in her own right. The Joker is also a pivotal character in the spin-off feature film, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993), although the writers were reluctant to include him in the movie since it was only a few years since the 1989 Batman film was released. However, they realized they "could make his appearance serve the story in a way that we never could in live-action."[39] The Joker also appears in the follow-up series The New Batman Adventures (1997–1999), this time with black scleras and without his trademark red lips.

The Joker also makes several appearances in non-Batman titled series. In Superman: The Animated Series (1996–2000) he travels to Metropolis and makes a deal with Lex Luthor to kill Superman in exchange for one billion dollars. He also starts a crime spree in the episode "The Big Leagues" on Static Shock (2000–2004) when he recruits Hot-Streak, Kangor, Shiv and Talon, but the group is foiled by Static. The Joker also appears in Justice League (2001–2006) when he forces his way into Lex Luthor's Injustice Gang. In his most prominent episode, "Wild Cards," he pits the Justice League against the Royal Flush Gang as part of an elaborate ruse.

The Joker, although presumed to be long dead, inspires a motorcycle gang known as the Jokerz in Batman Beyond (1999–2001). He reappears in the direct-to-video spin-off Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000), in which he mysteriously returns to Gotham. A flashback reveals that the Joker had kidnapped and tortured Tim Drake, turning Robin into an insane, miniature version of himself dubbed Joker Junior (voiced by Andrea Romano), who is controlled with a microchip. The Joker's death was edited and redubbed amid controversy surrounding the Columbine High School massacre.

The Batman (2004–2008)

The Joker appears throughout the animated series The Batman, voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. Richardson was nominated twice for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program.[citation needed] Most notably, in the finale of Season 1, the Joker transforms Ethan Bennett into Clayface using "Joker-putty," which helps Yin change her view on the Batman and the two become allies. In the 2005 direct-to-video spin-off, The Batman vs. Dracula (2005), the Joker escapes from Arkham and unwittingly becomes a vampire under control of Count Dracula. Batman cures the Joker of his vampirism in order to learn the location of Dracula's lair in Gotham Cemetery.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008–2011)

Two versions of the Joker appear on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by Jeff Bennett. The first incarnation is a heroic alternative reality version known as the Red Hood, who was disfigured when he fell into a chemical vat after being actively dropped in by Owlman, in his debut episode "Game Over for Owlman!" The second incarnation is the Joker himself, whose appearance and personality is very similar to the Silver Age version as drawn by Dick Sprang.

Young Justice (2010–2013)

The Joker appears in the Young Justice cartoon series, voiced by Brent Spiner.[40]

Other appearances


The Joker has appeared in several standalone animated films that do not share continuity with an animated TV series.

John DiMaggio voiced the Joker in Batman: Under the Red Hood

Video games[edit]

As Batman's nemesis, the Joker has appeared in several Batman-related video games.

Early appearances (1988–2003)[edit]

The Joker's earliest video game appearance is in Batman: The Caped Crusader (1988) developed by Ocean Software for 8-bit home computers such as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 and by Data East for other platforms such as the Apple II, Commodore Amiga, and PC.[44] The game contains two parts that can be played in any order—the Joker's story or the Penguin's story.[45] The Joker also appears in several games based on the 1989 film, released between 1989–1992, including Batman: The Movie for the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, and ZX Spectrum;[46] Batman: The Video Game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis, and Game Boy;[45] Batman for the Sega Genesis;[45] and an arcade game, Batman.[47]

Batman: Return of the Joker (also known as Batman: Revenge of the Joker) features the Joker in a platforming shoot-em-up game based on the comics, released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991 and the Sega Genesis in 1992.[45]

Two games were released based on Batman:The Animated Series. The first is the Konami-developed game Batman: The Animated Series (1993) for GameBoy.[48] The second, The Adventures of Batman & Robin, was released for the Super Nintendo as an action adventure platformer, while the Sega Genesis version is a side-scrolling shooter.[45] The only game based on the Batman Beyond franchise, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, was released as a companion to the eponymous film for Game Boy Color, PlayStation and Nintendo 64.[45]

Batman: Vengeance (2001) was released for several platforms, based on The New Batman Adventures and starring its voice cast, including Mark Hamill as the Joker. In the game, the Joker and Harley Quinn mastermind a plan to destroy Gotham City using an explosive compound consisting of Joker Toxin and a new substance called Promethium. Other games include Batman: Chaos in Gotham (2001) for GameBoy Color, Justice League: Injustice for All (2002) for Game Boy Advance, and Batman: Dark Tomorrow (2003) for GameCube and Xbox, voiced by Allen Enlow. The Joker also has a cameo in Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu (2003), released for several platforms.

Lego series[edit]

Main article: Lego Batman

The Joker is a playable character in Lego Batman: The Videogame (2008), voiced by Steven Blum.[49] The Joker leads a group of villains—Harley Quinn, Mad Hatter, Scarecrow and Killer Moth—to spread Joker toxin to all of Gotham City. His weapons are dual Uzis and lethal joybuzzers, as well as a helicopter with a grappling hook.

The Joker returns in Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (2012), with Christopher Corey Smith taking over the role from Steven Blum. The Joker breaks out of Arkham using "The Deconstructor," a kryptonite-powered weapon developed by Lex Luthor. Lex Luthor also plans to use the Joker's toxins to gain the Presidency through mind control.

Christopher Corey Smith reprises his role in the third installment, Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (2014). The Joker joins Lex Luthor's Legion of Doom and creates mayhem with other villains using a map he received from Killer Croc. The character has several versions, some having separate abilities as well as different costumes: the original version, the 1960s television series version, the Dark Knight version (via downloadable content), and the Batman Beyond-era version (via downloadable content).

Batman: Arkham series[edit]

Main article: Batman: Arkham
Troy Baker took over Mark Hamill's voice of the Joker for Arkham Origins.
    • The Joker appears as the main antagonist of the 2009 video game Batman: Arkham Asylum, voiced once again by Mark Hamill. In the first game set in the Batman: Arkham video game universe, he takes over Arkham Asylum in an elaborate trap set for Batman, and combines the "Titan formula" (a more potent version of Bane's Venom) with his army of thugs to create "an army of a thousand Banes". After foiling the other villains' agendas, Batman confronts a Titan-enhanced Joker atop Arkham. In the game's PlayStation 3 version, players are able to actually play the Challenge Maps as the Joker with thugs replaced by Arkham guards.[50][51]
    • The Joker appears as one of the main antagonists in the 2011 sequel Batman: Arkham City, voiced again by Mark Hamill. The Joker is locked up in the new city sized prison "Arkham City" operated by Hugo Strange and is involved in a gang war against the Penguin and Two-Face. It is revealed that he is slowly dying as a result of his exposure to the Titan formula. The Joker eventually succumbs to his disease and dies with a smile on his face. During the credits, he can be heard singing Only You (And You Alone). The Joker also appears in Batman: Arkham City Lockdown. The Batman: Arkham City version of Joker was awarded the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards "Character of the Year" award.[52]
    • The Joker appears as the main antagonist in the 2013 prequel Batman: Arkham Origins, voiced by Troy Baker. This game is a prequel in the Batman: Arkham video game universe which focuses on the first meeting between Batman and the Joker as well as their conflicting philosophies. Before the game's plot, the Joker kidnaps and poses as Black Mask (Roman Sionis), planning to send Gotham into anarchy. To rid himself of Batman, "Black Mask" hires eight assassins to kill Batman. When Batman goes after Sionis at Gotham Merchants Bank, the Joker finally reveals himself. During the credits, he can be heard singing Cold, Cold Heart while being returned to his cell at Blackgate. The Joker is playable in the Batman: Arkham Origins multiplayer mode. If a player controlling a Joker Elite gets to an entry gate as the Joker is demanding they let him in, the thug is replaced with Joker. He has a lethal joybuzzer melee attack and two guns, The Ace of Spades (a large revolver) and The King of Hearts (a rapid-fire gun that shoots small explosives). The Joker returns in Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. He is among the three criminal kingpins that takeover Blackgate following Toyman being blown up. The Batman: Arkham Origins depiction of the Joker has been widely praised. Critics have lauded the voice acting and the exploration of the Joker and Batman's relationship.
    • Despite his death in Arkham City, the Joker returns in Batman: Arkham Knight, voiced once again by Mark Hamill as a hallucination. After reducing the blast radius of Scarecrow's fear toxin at ACE Chemicals, Batman begins to hallucinate his nemesis due to the residue of his blood in him combined with being exposed to Scarecrow's fear toxin. Other than having the Joker in his head commenting on every action he makes throughout the game, Batman is also forced to relive Joker's memories of his crippling of Barbara and his torture of Jason Todd. It's also shown that Joker's blood affected four other people, with each of them slowly taking on each aspect of the Joker's personality (Christina Bell having his obsession with Batman, Albert King having his violent nature, Johnny Charisma inheriting his showmanship, and Henry Adams his intellect). In the final encounter with Scarecrow, Bruce is injected with fear toxin and has a nightmare where he becomes Joker himself and kills all of Batman's friends and foes, destroying Gotham in the process. However, Batman is eventually able to break free by showing the Joker his greatest fear: being forgotten after his death. Batman then defeats the Joker and locks him in an Arkham-esque prison within his mind, conquering his biggest fear of becoming the Joker. Joker also appears in the Batgirl: A Matter of Family DLC story content. Set before the events of Arkham Asylum, Joker kidnaps Commissioner Gordon on Valentine's Day, holding him hostage on an abandoned amusement park built on top of an oil rig, forcing Batgirl and Robin to attempt to rescue him.

Fighting games[edit]

Richard Epcar has voiced the Joker in fighting games

The Joker is a playable character in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, voiced by Richard Epcar.[53] The Joker sports an array of magically endowed trick (but often lethal) weapons and fatalities. In the story, he breaks from the mission Lex Luthor gave him and goes after Batman. He easily defeats Sonya Blade and interrupts a fight between Deathstroke and Kano so he can kill the latter himself. The Joker then turns on Deathstroke just for the fun. As the two worlds separate, the Joker discovers that he has retained his new powers and manages to take over Gotham, crowning himself "Mayor Joker." Under his rule, the Joker holds tournaments where combatants fight to the death for his amusement, with the Joker challenging the winner.

The Joker appears as a playable character in the DC fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us, voiced again by Richard Epcar.[citation needed] In an alternate universe, the Joker tricked Superman into destroying Metropolis with a nuclear weapon, killing all the residents, including Lois Lane who is pregnant with Superman's child. Superman killed the Joker in retaliation, losing his moral compass and becoming a tyrant. In the normal universe, the Joker is accidentally recruited along with the heroes to stop alternate universe-Superman's regime. The Joker allies with Harley Quinn's heroic alternate universe counterpart and her Joker Clan to defeat Superman.

Online games[edit]

Mark Hamill once again reprises the role for DC Universe Online, a free-to-play MMORPG released in 2011. In the game's trailer, the Joker is shown with Harley Quinn using a rocket launcher to attack the Flash. After an explosion set off by Black Adam kills both the Flash and Green Lantern, the Joker wakes up and pushes Quinn's corpse aside (whether she protected him willingly or the Joker used her as a shield is left up to debate) as he coughs from the smoke. He looks through his goggles to see Deathstroke hitting a suspended Batman with a bent steel pole. Claiming the sole right to kill Batman, the Joker promptly picks up the rocket launcher and fires it. The Joker and Lex Luthor are the only survivors. In present Gotham City, he takes over a decrepit amusement park with Harley. In the hero campaign, the players help Batman in fighting the Joker who attacks the Special Crimes Unit’s inaugural ball in the Regal hotel. The Joker later collaborates with T. O. Morrow in order to develop a new type of Joker Venom and pays Deathstroke to dispose of the Riddler. Besides Harley, the Joker is served by Joker Anarchists, Joker Hiding Schizos, Jokandroids, Joker Dawgs, Joker Derangers, Joker Lunatics, Joker Madcaps, Joker Stooges, Joker Wags, Joker Wisecrackers, J1N1 Robots, Lefty, Righty, and Fullhouse.

The Joker can also be used in Legends PVP matches, a form of short player versus player matches where the players use the weapons, powers and abilities of iconic DC heroes or villains. The Joker is available for 70 Marks of Legends and is the only character that can switch between two movement sets: acrobatics, in which he fights with a crowbar and using the One Handed fighting skill, or flying, in which he uses dual pistols to fight. The Joker can be used with two skins: his normal appearance and Arkham Joker, dressed with a torn asylum inmate uniform and a slightly grittier look. If a player as Joker defeats an enemy player as Robin while using the crowbar, the player as Joker earns a feat for "recreating" Jason Todd's murder at the hands of the Joker from the graphic novel, A Death in the Family.

The Joker appears as a playable character in the multiplayer online battle arena game Infinite Crisis, voiced again by Richard Epcar. The Gaslight Earth version of the character is voiced by Fred Tatasciore, and the Atomic Earth version is voiced by Nolan North.[citation needed]


Craig Shaw Gardner's novelisation for Tim Burton's Batman expanded on several plot lines, including giving the Joker more depth, and spent much of 1989 near the top of New York Times' bestseller list.[54] Prolific science fiction anthologist Martin H. Greenberg edited The Further Adventures of The Joker (1990), an anthology of short stories collected as a tie-in following the success of the film.[55]

The Joker's fate after the events of The Dark Knight are hinted at in the official novilisation for The Dark Knight Rises by Greg Cox.[56]


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