The Joker

jokerfilmHere we are, for everyone’s favorite psycho! One of the latest characters confirmed for Injustice: Gods Among Uscasualgamer‘s request object, The Joker is surely Batman‘s most famous and popular villain, and had a number of live action appearances. The first one was Cesar Romero‘s in Batman tv series and spin-off movie, an ex hypnotist who became a pie-launching bank robber. Not so menacing. The following portrayal was Jack Nicholson‘s one, in which he starred as Jack Napier, a former gangster who, betrayed by his boss, became a vengeful maniac who in no time took control of Gotham City‘s underworld; he was also depicted as the killer of Bruce Wayne‘s parents. He briefly appeared in some flashbacks in Birds of Prey, portrayed by Curtis Armstrong and voiced by Mark Hamill: in the tv series he had killed Catwoman and forced Batman to retire. Latest, and maybe the best one, was the late Heath Ledger‘s performance in The Dark Knight, a mysterious and causeless killer who enjoyed spreading chaos everywhere. Now, let’s see who Batman’s nemesis is in the comics.

Most of The Joker’s past has been a complete mystery for years, with his real name still unknown. Writer Alan Moore, with his great The Killing Joke, uncovered the origins of the the one who’s possibly world’s most dangerous man alive (even if Joker himself says that he remembers many versions of his own story, thus his real past is still dubious at least). The man who would have become the Joker was a regular guy, an engineer who tried a career as a stand-up comedian, but all of his efforts ended up in miserable failures. The man had a pregnant wife at the time, and he needed money to support her and their future son: with no other way he could see, he agreed to lead two criminals into the chemical plant he was once working for, for a robbery. When everything was about to start, a police officer contacted the engineer, and told him that his beloved wife had died in a household accident, electrocuted by a malfunctioning baby jokercomics1bottle heater. Overwhelmed with grief and with no reason to go on with the plan, the engineer tried to step away from the robbery, but the criminals didn’t let him, threatening him. Everything went on as programmed, but for one thing: with the excuse of hiding his real identity, the robbers had the engineer don The Red Hood‘s costume, planning to blame the infamous criminal mastermind if anything went wrong. The same night he had lost his wife and his unborn son, the man entered the plant with the criminals:  a shooting immediately started between the robbers and the security agents, and the noise attracted Gotham’s vigilante, the Batman. The hero easily disposed of the goons, and approached the engineer believing he really was the Red Hood, a mob boss he had been hunting for months. Terrified by The Dark Knight, the man escaped throwing himself into the toxic waste catch-basin vat, finding his way to the outside through a dumping pipe. Once out of the plant, the engineer found out in horror that, under the Red Hood’s mask, his skin had permanently bleached, his hair had been turned green and his face donned a stained red smile. That was the precise moment in which the engineer lost his sanity: with a savage laughter, The Joker was born.

It passed some time between the plant’s incident and The Joker’s official debut as the new Gotham City’s criminal, but time only helped the now lunatic maniac to plan his entrance the best he could. Using his chemical engineer’s skills, he had developed what would have been called the Joker Venom, a lethal toxin which caused extremely painful and uncontrollable spasms of laughter thus jokercomics2suffocating the brain. Joker killed a news reporter, and announced on television that he would have killed millionaire Henry Claridge that same night, at midnight. Despite Gotham’s police efforts, Claridge died laughing at midnight, with the maniac’s trademark grin on his face. The Joker had planned to contaminate all of Gotham’s water supplies with his Venom, but Batman managed to stop him and to incarcerate him. Imprisonment didn’t prove much of an obstacle for the Joker, who, from that moment on, would have considered Arkham Asylum, the local criminal sanatorium, as a holiday house, a place in which he could take a break between a plan and another. Batman never knew of the deep mix of hatred, gratitude and fascination that Joker felt for him the first time they “officially” met: Batman was the one who gave Joker the final push over the edge of folly, and for that, the psycho was deeply grateful; with madness, he thought he had finally understood life, the biggest joke ever invented, a senseless and stupid run towards death, in which a simple bad day could transform the most normal and honest man into a mind-broken lunatic. With years of fighting and battling, the Joker and the Batman developed a closer bond than what the Dark Knight wanted to admit, since both of them became what they were after traumatic experiences that destroyed everything they believed to be “life”. From a first, almost regular confrontation for Batman, Joker would have become the greatest menace Gotham had ever faced, and Joker’s haunting laughter would have turned into the nightmare of every citizen, Batman included.

The Joker is a completely deranged and demented criminal, a man with no compassion or empathy at all, who kills for fun and spreads chaos wherever he goes. He uses a genius level intellect to conceive intricate plans, with the only common element of having Batman’s destruction as the main (but not only) aim. Joker uses a variety of clown-themed lethal gadgets, such as an acid-spitting flower, razor-sharp play cards and many other tools, last but not least his infamous Joker Venom. Despite a skinny constitution, folly gives him an unexpected strength, and his unpredictable movements make him a dangerous opponent in hand-to-hand combat even for Batman. With a personal body count which easily goes over the thousand(s), The Joker is the most dangerous, evil and insane man that ever walked on Earth.

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