A villain published by DC Comics. The Joker first appeared in Batman #1 in 1940.

Two origins exist for Batman's arch-nemesis. Both are extremely similar with most of the major events the same with only the motivations being different. In the original origin, the Joker originally had been a petty thief who had decided to make the big time. Disguising himself in a costume featuring a large red helmet made from some substance that allowed him to see out of it, the thief planned to rob a factory. His plan was to get enough money in one robbery to retire and the expected take was a million dollars.

The thief broke in and was making his escape when he was confronted by the Batman. Trapped with no seeming way out, the thief jumped into an unknown vat of chemicals and escaped through the venting pipes. Once clear of the factory, the thief removed the helmet to discover that it and the chemicals had reacted to alter his appearance. His skin was now bleached white and his lips were a permanent bright red. His hair had also been turned bright green. The change in his appearance unhinged the thief and he began to perform daring crimes under the name the Joker.

In the 1980's, a revised origin was put forth in Alan Moore's graphic novel The Killing Joke. The thief was now a struggling comedian with a young wife who was expecting their first child. In an attempt to make ends meet, the comedian agreed to help two thieves break into the Monarch Playing Card factory, where he had previously been employed. He was given a costume including a big red helmet and was to be called the Red Hood. Prior to the robbery, the comedian was informed that his wife had been killed while testing a baby bottle warmer. Distraught, the comedian attempted to back out of the robbery but was forced to carry out the robbery by his associates.

The robbery went badly and all of the comedian's associates in crime were killed. The comedian was approached by the Batman and dove into a vat of chemicals and escaped. When he removed his helmet, he found his appearance changed and that along with the death of his wife, drove the comedian over the edge.

The Joker has battled Batman for many years. His madness helps him to thwart Batman's attempts to capture him, since the hero is unable to anticipate what the Joker will do.

The Joker has been known to use a number of gadgets over the years. These include such items as a joy buzzer that shocks its victim with a lethal amount of electricity. The Joker has also used a squirting flower that emits a highly caustic acid.

The Joker has been the cause of a number of tragedies in the life of Batman. The Joker is responsible for the death of the second young man to hold the title of Robin. Jason Todd was killed in an explosion set by the Joker, after receiving a beating from the madman. The Joker is also responsible for paralyzing Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl. He did so in an attempt to drive Barbara's uncle, police commissioner James Gordon mad.

The Joker has been portrayed on both television and in the movies. The Batman television series cast Cesar Romero in the part of the Clown Prince of Crime, while Tim Burton the director of the movie Batman cast Jack Nicholson in the part of the Joker. The movie version told a slightly different version of the villain's origin, making him a criminal hitman named Jack Napier, who was also responsible for the death of Bruce Wayne's parents. In the comics, a criminal named Joe Chill was the person who shot the Waynes. On the Batman animated series, the voice of the Joker was provided by none other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill. Hamill also was used to voice the brief cameo by the character in the Warner Brothers network series Birds of Prey.


Thanks to Servo5678 for the information on Hamill's voice work for the Joker.

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