Joker in other media

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Adaptations of the Joker in other media
Created by Bill Finger
Bob Kane
Jerry Robinson
Original source Comics published by DC Comics
First appearance Batman #1 (April 25, 1940)
Films and television
Film(s) Batman (1966)
Batman (1989)
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)
The Batman vs. Dracula (2005)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
DC Super Friends: The Joker's Playhouse (2010)
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (2012-2013)
Lego Batman: The Movie - DC Super Heroes Unite (2013)
Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)
Lego DC Comics: Batman Be-Leaguered (2014)
Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem (2015)
Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League – Gotham City Breakout (2016)
Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
Batman Unlimited: Mech vs. Mutants (2016)
Suicide Squad (2016)
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016)
The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
Batman vs. Two-Face (2017)
Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2018)
Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash (2018)
Batman Ninja (2018)
Joker (2019)
Television
show(s)
Batman (1966)
Batman: The Animated Series (1992)
Superman: The Animated Series (1996)
The New Batman Adventures (1997)
Static Shock (2000)
Justice League (2001)
The Batman (2004)
Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008)
Young Justice (2010)
Teen Titans Go! (2013)
Justice League Action (2016)
Gotham (2018)

The Joker, the archenemy of the fictional superhero Batman, has appeared in various media. WorldCat (a catalogue of libraries in 170 countries) records over 250 productions featuring the Joker as a subject, including films, television series, books, and video games.[1][2] Live-action films featuring the character are typically the most successful.[3]

The Joker has been portrayed by Cesar Romero in the 1966 Batman television series, Jack Nicholson in the 1989 film Batman, Heath Ledger in the 2008 film The Dark Knight, Jared Leto in the 2016 film Suicide Squad, and Cameron Monaghan in the 2014 television series Gotham. Joaquin Phoenix is set to play the character in the origin story film Joker which is due for release in 2019. Over the years, various actors have provided the character's voice in animated, motion comic, and video game form. Mark Hamill is often credited as the iconic voice of the Joker.[4][5]

Live-action[edit]

Television[edit]

Batman (1966–1968 TV series)[edit]

Cesar Romero as the Joker in Batman.

Cesar Romero portrayed the Joker in the 1960s Batman television series. Romero refused to shave his distinctive mustache for the role, so it was partially visible beneath the white face makeup applied.[6] This version of the Joker is based on the character in the 1960s comics, who is more of an elaborate prankster than a psychopathic murderer.[7]

Batman OnStar commercials (2000 to 2002)[edit]

The Joker was played by Curtis Armstrong in one of the six Batman OnStar commercials that ran from 2000 to 2002.[8]

Birds of Prey (2002–2003 TV series)[edit]

The Joker makes a cameo appearance in an episode of the 2002–2003 series Birds of Prey, portrayed by Roger Stoneburner and voiced by Mark Hamill (who has voiced the Joker in various DC projects).[9]

Gotham (2014–2019)[edit]

Two characters (one acting as the "precursor" to the Joker and the other as the Show's Version of The Joker), twins Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska (both portrayed by Cameron Monaghan), are featured in the Fox TV series Gotham.

Jerome is introduced in season one as the psychopathic son of a circus snake dancer and a blind fortune teller. He is committed to Arkham after he murders his mother, who he says abused him. He is freed from Arkham along with several other inmates by Theo Galavan to cause chaos in the second season. Galavan later kills him so he can appear a hero. His death inspires a movement of followers dedicated to him. Jerome is resurrected by one of his followers in the third season. He staples his face back on after it is cut off.

In season four, it is revealed that Jerome has a secret twin named Jeremiah. Before falling to his death in a confrontation with Jim Gordon, Jerome leaves his brother a "gift box." When Jeremiah opens the box, he is exposed to a special form of the Scarecrow's laughing gas, bleaching his skin white and driving him insane.[10][11]

Monaghan stated that he drew inspiration from previous interpretations of the Joker for his performance as Jerome, particularly that of Mark Hamill, adding "I think he's the Joker in that he represents the idea, the greater concept."[12][13][14]

Film[edit]

Batman (1966)[edit]

Cesar Romero reprised his role in the 1966 film Batman, in which the Joker is a member of the United Underworld, alongside fellow Gotham City villains the Penguin, the Riddler and Catwoman.

Batman (1989–1997 film series)[edit]

Jack Nicholson as the Joker in a publicity still for Batman (1989).

Jack Nicholson played the Joker in Tim Burton's 1989 film Batman. The Newsweek review of the film stated that the best scenes are due to the surreal black comedy portrayed in the Joker.[15] In 2003, American Film Institute ranked Nicholson's performance #45 on their list of 50 greatest film villains.[16] Hugo Blick[17] and David U. Hodges play younger versions of the character in flashbacks in Batman and Batman Forever, respectively.

In the film, Jack Napier is the right-hand man of mob boss Carl Grissom prior to his transformation into the Joker. During a confrontation with the vigilante Batman in a chemical factory, Napier's face is wounded by a ricocheting bullet and he falls into a vat of chemical waste, turning his hair green, his skin white and his lips red. A botched attempt at plastic surgery leaves him with a permanent rictus grin. Driven insane by his reflection, the Joker kills Grissom and takes over his syndicate, launching a crime wave designed to outdo Batman. The Joker describes himself as "the world's first fully functional homicidal artist" who makes avant-garde "art" by killing people with cosmetics laced with Smylex, which leaves its victims with a grotesque grin similar to his own.[18] Bruce Wayne later recognises the Joker as the mugger who murdered his parents, leading him down the path of becoming a crime-fighter. After telling Batman that they "made each other", the Joker attempts to escape via helicopter, but Batman ties a grappling hook around his leg and attaches it to a stone gargoyle, causing the Joker to fall to his death when the statue breaks loose of its moorings.

Nicholson was to reprise his role in Batman Unchained, the fifth film planned for the series.[19][20] The Joker was to return as a hallucination in Batman's mind caused by the Scarecrow's fear toxin, and Harley Quinn was to appear as his daughter trying to get revenge on Batman for his death.[21] Due to the critical and commercial failure of Batman & Robin, this film was cancelled.

The Dark Knight (2008)[edit]

Heath Ledger played the Joker in Christopher Nolan's 2008 film The Dark Knight. Ledger's interpretation of the character was specifically influenced by the graphic novels Batman: The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. In the film, he wears the character's traditional colour palette, while his facial appearance includes clown makeup that covers facial scars of a Glasgow smile. This version of the Joker embodies themes of chaos, anarchy, and obsession; he expresses a desire to upset social order through crime, and defines himself by his conflict with Batman. The character explores techniques found in Ledger's previous performances, including his clown act in Terry Gilliam's fantasy film The Brothers Grimm. It also references paintings by artist Francis Bacon, Anthony Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange, and various punk rock musicians.

The Joker is considered to be Ledger's finest performance; he himself regarded it as his most enjoyable. When the film was released in July 2008, six months after the actor had died from an accidental prescription drug overdose, the performance caused a sensation and received universal acclaim; Ledger was posthumously awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.[22][23]

DC Extended Universe (2013–present)[edit]

Jared Leto as the Joker in a promotional poster for Suicide Squad (2016).

Jared Leto portrays the Joker in the DC Extended Universe.[24] Originally set to appear in Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the character was ultimately cut and only referenced in the film.[25][26]

Jared Leto debuts as the Joker in David Ayer's 2016 film Suicide Squad.[27] Flashbacks reveal that the Joker manipulated psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel into falling in love with him during his time as her patient at Arkham Asylum. He eventually managed to convince Dr. Quinzel to free him, and he electrocuted her before taking her to the Ace Chemicals plant. Quinzel then voluntarily fell into the solution that created her lover, bleaching her skin and completing her transformation into Harley Quinn.[28] According to Ayer, at some point, the Joker killed the Gotham City vigilante Batman's partner, Robin, with Harley's help. Quinn was ultimately apprehended and forced into joining Amanda Waller's government task force composed of captured supervillains.[29] In the present day narrative, the Joker attempts to extract Harley from the task force. He tortures one of Waller's security officers for the location of the facility where the nano explosives used as leverage over the criminals are manufactured, and threatens an A.R.G.U.S. scientist there to disable the bomb implanted in Harley's neck. After commandeering a military helicopter, the Joker and his men rescue Harley during the task force's mission in Midway City. The chopper is shot down, however, and Harley falls out while the Joker seemingly perishes in the explosion, prompting Quinn to rejoin the task force. After the "Suicide Squad" defeat the Enchantress, the Joker, who survived the crash, breaks into Belle Reve Prison with his gang to free Harley from her cell, and the pair reunite as the movie ends. Critics praised Jared Leto's performance despite his character's negligible screen time.[30][31] Mark Hamill, the voice of the Joker in various DC projects, said that he "loved" Leto's take on the character.[32][33] Although many scenes featuring the Joker were omitted from the theatrical release, some of this unused footage did make it into the extended cut.[34][35] Leto also appeared as the Joker in the music video "Purple Lamborghini", by Skrillex and Rick Ross, from the film's soundtrack.[36]

Jared Leto is set to reprise his role in multiple upcoming DCEU instalments, including Suicide Squad 2, Gotham City Sirens, an as-of-yet untitled film centred on the Joker and Harley Quinn, and a solo film focused on the character with the studio's intent being that the film will "pave the way" for all other Suicide Squad-related projects.[37][38][39][40][41]

Joker (2019)[edit]

In August 2017, Warner Bros. announced that a film focusing on the origin of the Joker is currently in development, with a plot that takes place in Gotham City during the 1980s as a "hard-boiled crime drama". Todd Phillips has signed on to co-write/direct/co-produce the film, with Scott Silver serving as co-writer and Martin Scorsese acting as co-producer. The project will be separate from the DC Extended Universe.[42] Joaquin Phoenix was cast as the film's lead in July 2018, with principal photography expected to begin in September.[43] Joker will be released on October 4, 2019.[44][45] On July 10, 2018, it was announced that Scorsese was no longer involved with the project.[46] On July 24, 2018, Robert De Niro and Frances Conroy have each finalized a deal to appear in the film.[47] On August 8, 2018, it was reported that the film will likely receive an R rating due to female nudity and carry a modest $55 million budget which is much smaller compared to other comic book movies.[48] On August 27, 2018, Zazie Beetz and Marc Maron were confirmed to star in the film.[49]

Theatre[edit]

The Joker appears in the 2011 theatrical production Batman Live, portrayed by Mark Frost. He masterminds a plot to defeat Batman by uniting several of the superhero's greatest foes, including Harley Quinn, Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler, Poison Ivy, and Scarecrow.[50][51] The show is an adaptation of the Batman property, drawing inspiration from the 1966 television series, Tim Burton's series of Batman films, and the 1992 animated series, among others.[50][52][53]

Animation[edit]

Television[edit]

Filmation[edit]

The Joker appears as a recurring villain in the 1968–1969 Filmation series The Adventures of Batman, voiced by Larry Storch.[54] He also appears in five episodes of Filmation's 1977 series The New Adventures of Batman, voiced by Lennie Weinrib.[55]

Hanna-Barbera[edit]

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

The Joker appears in The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (1985–1986) episode "The Wild Cards", voiced by Frank Welker.[56][57] He assists Darkseid by disguising himself as Ace, the leader of the Royal Flush Gang.

DC animated universe[edit]

Mark Hamill voiced the Joker for various projects, beginning with the DC animated universe.

The Joker appears in various animated series set within the DC animated universe, voiced by Mark Hamill, who is often credited as the iconic voice of the character because of his wide range of "joyful, gleeful, maniacal, [...] malevolent and evil laughs."[4][5] The Joker first appeared in Batman: The Animated Series (1992–1995). The show is notable for introducing his sidekick and lover, Harley Quinn, to such popularity that she became a character in the comics. The Joker was also featured in the spin-off film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993).[58]

The Joker returned in the follow-up series The New Batman Adventures (1997–1999) with a stylistic redesign. His white skin now had a bluish-grey tinge, while his eyes had their sclerae removed, and were replaced by cavernous black spaces with white pupils. His trademark red lips were omitted, focusing more attention on his teeth, and his green hair was darkened. His suit's colours were also changed from purple and yellow to purple and green. In the Superman: The Animated Series (1996–2000) episode "World's Finest", the Joker travels to Metropolis and makes a deal with Lex Luthor to kill Superman. In the Justice League (2001–2006) episodes "Injustice For All" and "Wild Cards", the Joker joins Luthor's Injustice League, and pits the Justice League against the Royal Flush Gang as part of an elaborate ruse, respectively. In "A Better World", a lobotomised Joker is briefly seen in an alternate universe ruled by the Justice Lords. The Joker was later featured in the Static Shock (2000–2004) episode "The Big Leagues", in which he starts a crime spree.

The Joker made his final chronological appearance in the direct-to-video feature film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000), in which he mysteriously returns to Gotham City forty years in the future, apparently unaged since his battles with the original Batman. Flashbacks reveal that before he died, the Joker kidnapped and tortured Robin (Tim Drake), turning him into an insane, miniature version of himself dubbed 'Joker Junior', learning Batman's secret identity in the process. The Joker's death was edited and redubbed amid controversy surrounding the Columbine High School massacre; the original version sees Joker Junior shoot the Joker in the heart, whereas the edited version simply sees him push the Joker into damaged cables to be electrocuted out of sight. However, a microchip implanted in Drake's neck was revealed to have possessed a copy of the Joker's consciousness and DNA, allowing him to take over his host until he is defeated by the new Batman (Terry McGinnis).

The Batman (2004–2008)[edit]

The Joker appears in The Batman, voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. This version has long and wild hair, is barefoot, and initially wore an Arkham Asylum straitjacket before later adopting his signature purple suit. The Joker also appears in the direct-to-video spin-off film The Batman vs. Dracula (2005).

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

The Joker appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by Jeff Bennett. His appearance and personality are similar to the Silver Age version drawn by Dick Sprang. His counterpart on a parallel earth is a vigilante known as the Red Hood.

Young Justice (2010–2013, 2019)[edit]

The Joker appears as a member of the Injustice Gang in Young Justice, voiced by Brent Spiner.[59]

Teen Titans Go! (2013–present)[edit]

The Joker makes multiple unspoken appearances in Teen Titans Go!.

Justice League Action (2016–present)[edit]

The Joker appears in Justice League Action, with Mark Hamill reprising his role.[60]

Film[edit]

Troy Baker voiced the Joker in Batman: Assault on Arkham, reprising his role from the video game Batman: Arkham Origins.

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 was 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.[68] The game contains two parts that can be played in any order—the Joker's story or the Penguin's story.[69] 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;[70] Batman: The Video Game for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy;[69] Batman for the Genesis;[69] and an arcade game, Batman.[71]

Two games were released based on Batman: The Animated Series. The first was the Konami-developed game Batman: The Animated Series (1993) for Game Boy.[72] The second, The Adventures of Batman & Robin, was released for the Super NES as an action adventure platform and for Genesis as a side-scrolling shooter.[69] 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.[69] 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.

The Joker is featured in the platform game Batman: Return of the Joker, released for the NES in 1991 and the Genesis in 1992.[69] Other games include Batman: Chaos in Gotham (2001) for Game Boy Color, Justice League: Injustice for All (2002) for Game Boy Advance, and Batman: Dark Tomorrow (2003) for GameCube and Xbox. The Joker also makes a cameo in Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu (2003), released for several platforms.

Lego[edit]

Batman: Arkham[edit]

The Joker's character design for the main trilogy of the Batman: Arkham franchise.[75][76]

Mark Hamill reprises his role as the Joker in the main trilogy of the Batman: Arkham franchise,[77][78] while Troy Baker voices the character's younger version in the prequel Arkham Origins.[79] This depiction of the Joker has received widespread acclaim, as critics have lauded the voice acting and exploration of his rivalry with Batman.[80][81][82][83] The Joker won the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards "Character of the Year" award for his appearance in Arkham City.[84]

  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009), the Joker takes over Arkham Island with Harley Quinn's help in an elaborate trap set for Batman. He releases all of the inmates and injects his thugs with the "Titan formula", a more potent version of Bane's Venom drug, to create an army of genetically-enhanced henchmen. After foiling the other freed villains' agendas, Batman confronts and defeats the Titan-enhanced Joker atop Arkham Asylum. In the game's PlayStation 3 version, the Joker is a playable character in Challenge Maps where opposing thugs are replaced with Arkham guards.[85][86]
  • In Batman: Arkham City (2011), the Joker is involved in a gang war with Two-Face and the Penguin in Professor Hugo Strange's new city-sized prison "Arkham City". The Joker infects Batman with his poisoned blood after it is revealed that he is slowly dying as a result of his Titan overdose in Arkham Asylum, thus motivating Batman to find a cure for them both. Despite Batman's best efforts, however, the Joker ultimately succumbs to the disease and dies. During the credits, he can be heard singing Only You (And You Alone). The Joker also appears in Batman: Arkham City Lockdown.
  • The prequel Batman: Arkham Origins (2013) features Batman's first encounter with the Joker. He poses as "Black Mask" (voiced by Brian Bloom[87]) after kidnapping the crime lord. As "Black Mask", he breaks into Blackgate Prison on Christmas Eve, kills the corrupt Commissioner Loeb, hires eight assassins (consisting of Killer Croc, Bane, Deathstroke, Deadshot, Firefly, Copperhead, Shiva and Electrocutioner) to kill the Dark Knight in Gotham City. After being captured by Batman, the Joker meets Dr. Harleen Quinzel for the first time at Blackgate, where he shares his past before escaping and taking over the Penitentiary. The Joker then attempts to corrupt Batman by coaxing Batman into killing Bane, but fails and realises that his nemesis is his philosophical opposite, thus beginning his obsession with the Dark Knight. During the credits, he can be heard singing Cold, Cold Heart. The Joker is playable in the game's multiplayer mode, and he also appears in Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate.
  • In Batman: Arkham Knight (2015), Batman begins to hallucinate the Joker when the residue of the latter's blood in his system mixes with Scarecrow's fear gas, causing the Dark Knight to experience his nemesis' memories of Barbara Gordon's crippling and Jason Todd's torture. The Joker's blood also infected four other individuals: Henry Adams, Johnny Charisma, Christina Bell, and Albert King. Each of them develop aspects of the Joker's personality and appearance, though they are all ultimately killed. Batman is eventually able to fully break free from the Joker's influence and locks him away within his mind. During the credits, the Joker can be heard singing Look Who's Laughing Now. He also appears in the Batgirl: A Matter of Family DLC story.
  • At the end of the PlayStation game Batman: Arkham VR (2016), the events of which are set before Batman: Arkham Knight, the Joker possesses Batman and kills Nightwing and Robin. The entire game is then revealed to be a nightmare in Batman's mind.

Injustice[edit]

  • The Joker appears as a playable character in Injustice: Gods Among Us, voiced by Richard Epcar. In an alternate universe, the Joker tricks Superman into killing Lois Lane, which detonates a nuclear bomb that destroys Metropolis, killing millions of its citizens. Driven insane, Superman murders this Joker and takes over Earth with the Regime. The primary universe's Joker nearly destroys Metropolis with a nuclear bomb as well, but he is accidentally transported to the Regime universe when the Insurgency versions of Batman and Lex Luthor bring most of the Justice League to their world. The Joker is ultimately defeated by the Insurgency Luthor and taken back to the primary universe by Batman's prime version.
  • The Joker returns as a playable character in Injustice 2, with Richard Epcar reprising the role. While still deceased in the alternate universe, he appears as a hallucination to Harley Quinn caused by Scarecrow's fear gas. Refusing to let the Joker be abusive, Harley defeats the hallucination and breaks free of the toxin's influence. After executing Brainiac in his single-player ending, the Joker mixes Earth with a number of alien civilisations and watches as the people begin to slaughter each other.[88] Character dialogue indicates that he is either the primary universe iteration, a fear toxin hallucination, or that he tricked Nekron into restoring him to life.

Telltale's Batman[edit]

"John Doe" in a promotional image for Batman: The Enemy Within.

Anthony Ingruber voices the Joker, referred to as "John Doe", in Telltale Games' episodic point-and-click graphic adventure Batman video game series.[89]

  • The Joker makes his debut in the first season, titled Batman: The Telltale Series.[90] Bruce Wayne meets "John Doe" for the first time as a patient at Arkham Asylum. John gives Bruce information regarding the Children of Arkham's plans before starting a prison riot. John is among the inmates present during Lady Arkham's siege of the asylum, and is later seen at a bar in Gotham City watching Bruce/Batman on live television.
  • The Joker returns in the second season, titled Batman: The Enemy Within.[91] Agency director Amanda Waller reveals that after being discharged from Arkham, "John Doe" joined a criminal cabal called "The Pact", consisting of the Riddler, Bane, Mr. Freeze, Catwoman, and John's former psychiatrist Harley Quinn, whom John claims to be in love with. When Riddler nearly jeopardises their plans, John betrays him by giving Bruce sufficient information to arrest him. John later recruits Bruce into the organisation and, after secretly deducing that he is Batman, helps him uncover the group's plan to steal the LOTUS virus from a rogue division of the Agency called SANCTUS. After Harley betrays the Pact to escape with the virus, John helps Bruce search for her at a defunct carnival and murders several Agency operatives. Bruce confronts John and either retains his trust or shatters their friendship. The former choice results in John helping Bruce to apprehend Harley, while the latter decision leads to John saving Harley and vowing to become Batman's mortal enemy. Adopting the identity of the "Joker", John either becomes a ruthless vigilante set on bringing Waller to "justice" by any means necessary, or transforms into a psychopathic criminal intent on psychologically torturing Bruce. Regardless of the choices the player makes, Batman ultimately defeats Joker and sends him back to Arkham Asylum. He is last seen in his cell being visited by Bruce or vowing to return.

Other games[edit]

References[edit]

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