15 Things You Never Knew About The Joker –
Despite such a rich catalog of stories and unforgettable appearances in DC films, we still don’t know all that much about the Ace of Knaves. While there have been several attempts at telling his origin story, as Mr. J himself says, “Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another… If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice.”
In order to further familiarize you with the homicidal clown, we’ve gone through the stacks of history books and picked out some lost gems and facts from his past. This pesky rogue likes to keep things close to his pale chest, but we tapped into our inner-Batman and after a tremendous amount of sleuthing uncovered some juicy pieces of information about him.
15 HIS FIRST SIDEKICK WAS GAGGY – NOT HARLEY QUINN
While most of us might be more familiar with Dr. Harleen Quinzel as the Joker’s main sidekick, the position was originally filled by a little clown named Gagsworth A. Gagsworthy, aka Gaggy, in Batman #186.
Before embarking on a life of crime, Gaggy was a tightrope walker at the circus, until he was replaced by a new act called — you guessed it — The Flying Graysons. Resenting being sent down to the freakshow division of the circus, Gaggy attacked another clown, catching the eye of the Joker who was impressed by what he saw. Thus, the Clown Prince took him under his wing, making him his own devious Robin.
After being sent to prison, Gaggy and his boss were separated, but he has returned several times over the years — mostly looking unimpressed that the Joker has taken on Harley Quinn as his new protégé.
14 HE HAS KILLED OVER 2,000 PEOPLE
From ramming people’s heads into pencils to shooting his victims point blank in the face, the Joker has done his fair share of killing over the years, but what exactly are his numbers?
Well, according to 1996’s The Joker: Devil’s Advocate, written by Chuck Dixon and illustrated by Graham Nolan, he’s got a body count of over 2,000 people. Considering that book was released 21 years ago, we reckon the numbers are much higher now — possibly even closer to 3,000.
Remember, though, that these are the known murders and we need to trust the GCPD’s paperwork here. How many of his own goons has he bumped off for a laugh? Or what about the people he’s killed but their bodies were never found?
13 HE HATES NAZIS
From murderer to thief, the Joker is a lot of things. The one thing he isn’t, though, is a Nazi.
In the 1997 DC/Marvel crossover special Batman/Captain America, Red Skull hires the Joker to steal an atomic bomb. The crazed clown evades the superheroes on his tail and delivers the bomb to Red Skull, but is horrified to discover that his employer is actually a Nazi. In one of his greatest lines ever, Mr. J says, “I may be a criminal lunatic, but I’m an American criminal lunatic!”
Proving he loves his country more than a dime, the Clown Prince battles Red Skull in the cargo of the plane. It was this act that allowed the time necessary for Captain America and Batman to arrive and take over the plane before it reached Washington, D.C. Yes, folks, the Joker actually helped save America that one time.
12 RYAN GOSLING WAS FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY THE JOKER IN SUICIDE SQUAD
Jared Leto’s performance as the Joker in Suicide Squad didn’t exactly convince the doubters that he was fit enough to lace up Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson’s boots. In all fairness, though, he didn’t exactly receive an awful lot of screen time to convince us, so let’s reserve judgment until we see him as Mr. J again.
If you believe The Wrap‘s sources, however, Leto was actually second choice after Ryan Gosling turned down the role. The reported reason for him declining was his unwillingness to sign a deal with an option for multiple films.
Gosling does sound like an odd pick for the role since he doesn’t strike you as being capable of pulling off a madman performance. That said, none of us believed in Ledger when he was first cast in The Dark Knight, either.
11 THERE ARE THREE JOKERS
Justice League #50 was a pretty big issue that resulted in Batman gaining hold of the Mobius Chair and its infinite database of knowledge. Naturally, one of his first questions was about the Joker’s true identity. The answer – unbeknownst to the reader – shocked the Dark Knight who could only say, “No. That’s not possible.”
DC kept us guessing for some time, before revealing in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 that the Chair told Batman that there are actually three Jokers. While the mystery has yet to be solved, it’s entirely possible that the architect of this theory, Geoff Johns, may tackle this conundrum in his Doomsday Clock arc.
Maybe the Harlequin of Hate has discovered a way to time travel and he’s been hopping between the Multiverse since then?
10 HE WAS KILLED BY NIGHTWING
The Joker has quite the history with Batman’s various Robins — none more so than Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing. In many ways, Dick knows the Clown Prince almost as well as the Dark Knight, having gone toe to toe with the fiend for what feels like a lifetime now.
In Joker: Last Laugh, Nightwing finally snaps and crosses a line he never thought he would. Believing that the Joker had killed Tim Drake and goaded by the villain, Dick beats him to death. The Bat Family arrives on the scene — Drake included — and Dick feels distraught for what he’s done and walks out.
The Joker didn’t stay dead for too long, though, as his heart was restarted and he was returned to prison. Still, Nightwing followed through with what his mentor never could.
9 HE HAD HIS OWN SHORT-LIVED COMIC BOOK SERIES
Nowadays, it isn’t uncommon for villains to also have their own comic book series. Just look at Deathstroke who’s still going strong with his own book — although he does teeter on the border between full-blown bad guy and antihero, but whatever.
Back in 1975, though, it was a pretty big deal to get a book and the Joker received his own eponymous series starting in May of that year. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t last too long and ended after only nine issues in October 1976.
That said, the stories weren’t limited to just Batman versus Joker and we saw the knave encounter the likes of the Royal Flush Gang, Lex Luthor, and Catwoman. The formula, though, was quite repetitive and involved the Joker escaping out of prison at the beginning of each issue, going on an adventure, and then being caught again at the end.
8 HEATH LEDGER WAS CHRISTOPHER NOLAN’S FIRST CHOICE FOR THE DARK KNIGHT
In Hollywood, it’s not often that directors get exactly what they want when it comes to castings. Sometimes there are scheduling conflicts, other times they can’t reach monetary agreements. So, when the stars align and everyone gets what they want, it’s a cause for celebration.
Despite Heath Ledger’s initial reluctance to take the role of the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, he eventually folded after the director convinced him of the part. Sadly, Ledger never got to see the lasting impact and magnitude of his performance as he passed away before the film’s release.
Judging by the critical reception and the posthumous Oscar for Ledger, it’s a good thing that Nolan didn’t give a damn about all our rumblings over how wrong the actor was for the role.
7 HE KILLED ALEXANDER LUTHOR, JR.
Killing to the Joker is like any other Tuesday night. However, he has had more than a few memorable kills in his career. In Geoff Johns’ influential Infinite Crisis, the Clown Prince took out his blood lust on Alexander Luthor, Jr. of pre-Crisis Earth-Three.
You see, this alternate Earth Luthor didn’t want Mr. J to join the Secret Society of Super Villains, because he deemed him too unpredictable (you can see his point here). So, Lex Luthor (the one we all know) and the Joker cornered him in a dark alley. The clown began his assault with an array of tortures, including face-melting acid, before finally using a shotgun to pop him.
While most of us remember his infamous murder of Jason Todd, this one was far more brutal — even for the Joker’s standards.
6 HE HAD A COUSIN NAMED MELVIN REIPAN
While not necessarily part of the main continuity, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #50 introduced us to the Joker’s cousin, Melvin Reipan. (Note: if you spell the surname Reipan backwards, it’s Napier.)
The story shows us the Clown Prince’s masterful art of manipulation as he convinces his cousin that he’s ugly — like his mother always told him — and later kills him. However, the most important thing to come out of this issue is that the Joker’s first name is nearly revealed by Melvin. In case you didn’t know, it begins with “Ja” and we’re pretty sure it’s followed by “ck.”
Before Melvin could spill the beans, though, he’s quickly shushed by his pale-faced relative, who says, “We don’t use that name anymore, remember? I’m Cousin Joker now.”
5 HE WAS VOICED BY LENNIE WEINRIB, AKA THE VOICE OF SCRAPPY-DOO
While we’re all aware of the fact that Mark Hamill has voiced Mistah J for 25 years now, there’s another recognized voice who lent his talents to the character in 1977’s The New Adventures of Batman. The late Lennie Weinrib — better known as the original voice of Scrappy-Doo — voiced the jester, Commissioner Gordon, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and a host of other characters on the show.
Unfortunately, The New Adventures of Batman only lasted about three months before being canned. In those days, Filmation held the rights to the characters and did quite a few arbitrary things with its programming, so it wasn’t too long before we saw Batman in another series again.
Sadly, Weinrib only voiced the Joker in the one series and we never got to hear his take on the character again.
4 GRANT MORRISON SAYS HE POSSESSES SUPER-SANITY
There’s a fine line between sane and insane, but we doubt that anyone would debate that the Joker isn’t a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Not Grant Morrison, though. In Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, the writer suggested that the villain suffers from a kind of super-sanity that gives him heightened sensory perception and the lack of a true personality.
It sounds rather strange, but it’s likely Morrison’s way of describing the next level of psychopathy. The Joker feels no emotion or remorse for his actions, and can operate without a moral compass.
It’s this lack of an attachment that gives him a next-level focus. Matched with his high IQ, he knows exactly what he’s doing and how he’s doing it, but he doesn’t need a reason to do it.
3 SCARECROW’S FEAR TOXIN HAD NO EFFECT ON HIM
When Scarecrow’s fear toxin (or gas) hits you, you know you’re about to encounter the scariest things in life. Imagine a never-ending loop of Keeping Up with the Kardashians? The chills. Such a thing would frighten any ordinary human being… but not Mr. J.
During the Knightfall saga, Crane grew tired of the Joker’s insults and sprayed him with his fear gas. The Clown Prince feigned the effect, before turning to the Scarecrow and saying, “Not bad, ‘crow. What other flavors you got?” He then proceeded to beat his partner-in-crime with a chair, making fear puns throughout.
Obviously, everyone cites his immunity to the toxin’s effects due to him being insane and afraid of nothing. However, it’s possible that, since he fell into the vat of acid that turned him into the Joker, his sensory functions became resistant to the effects of gases and other materials.
2 HE HATES DICK GRAYSON THE MOST OUT OF ALL THE ROBINS
The Joker doesn’t look like the kind of guy to hold a grudge, but he really doesn’t like Dick Grayson all that much. He’d much prefer it to go back to the time when it was just Batman and him, and no sidekicks to interfere.
His hatred is mentioned several times in the comics, with the Clown Prince stating that he hates Dick the most of all. The main reason for this is because he could never get under the first Robin’s skin as much as he had with Batman’s other partners. Also, he feels that Dick made Batman weaker in the grand scheme of things.
Nonetheless, no matter what the Joker does, Dick seems to overcome all taunts and threats — apart from that one time he beat the villain to death and he needed to have his heart restarted, of course.
1 MARK HAMILL VOICED MR. J IN A LIVE-ACTION APPEARANCE
Speaking of Hamill, there are many fans who wish that he would portray a live-action version of the Joker as well. Well, he already has… sort of. In 2002’s Birds of Prey TV series pilot, the Clown Prince pops up in a few flashbacks that show how he paralyzed Barbara Gordon (Batgirl).
While the actor playing the Joker isn’t Hamill – it’s actually actor/stuntman Roger Stoneburner – Hamill’s voice was dubbed over Stoneburner’s performance. It might not be the way a lot of fans wanted it to play out, but at least it was something, right?
Unless there’s a Batman Beyond live-action film planned in the near future, with a part for an older Joker, it seems like this “appearance” in Birds of Preywill have to do for Hamill’s supporters.