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Joker (Nolanverse)

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Quote1 Some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn. Quote2
-- Alfred Pennyworth src

The origins of the Joker are not fully explained in The Dark Knight. Throughout the movie, the Joker tells others of how he acquired the scars present around his mouth. He repeats two stories. The first is to the crime lord Gambol, about his father being a drunk and abusing his mother. The Joker states that one night his father starts abusing his mother as he, a young boy, sits in the corner watching in terror. His father sees him cowering and asks "Why So Serious?", which turns out to be one of the Joker's trademark lines. After his father says this to him, he cuts the young, soon to be Joker's face in the shape of a smile so he would never look so serious. An alternate version of the tale is one he tells to Rachel Dawes, about his wife getting cut up by loan sharks whom she owned money to but could not undergo surgery due to the expenses. In turn he takes a razor blade and cut his mouth to prove to her that he does not care about scars, and that he just wants to see her smile again. He then states that she hated the sight of him and no matter how much he missed her, he was always smiling. He prepares to tell Batman the story behind his scars, but Batman incapacitates him before he has the opportunity. Given the Joker's obvious mania, neither version of the origin can be considered reliable. Also, inside the police station, the Joker's fingerprints and teeth find no match, and his suits are tailor-made, so no one can trace his name.

Shortly after the break out of the insane inmates of Arkham Asylum in Batman Begins, Jim Gordon tells Batman that an unnamed killer for a double homicide leaves a calling card which was a joker card. At the beginning of The Dark Knight, the Joker sends a group of thieves to rob a mafia bank - and also ordered each one to kill one another until only he is left when the escape bus arrives. After killing the last of his minions and scaring the bank manager with a smoke grenade, the Joker leaves with the money. The mobsters first think of the Joker as an enemy of theirs, but then he arrives at their meeting and offers to kill Batman for pay. They agree after the hero captures their Chinese accountant Lau.

The Joker then kills a Batman impersonator and leaves with his body a tape telling all of Gotham that if the Batman does not turn himself in to the police, more people will die each day. When the Joker begins killing public officials, including Commissioner Loeb and the judge presiding over the mob trials, (and an attempt to kill Mayor Garcia, that ends up injuring Lieutenant Gordon) Wayne decides to turn himself in. Before he can do so, district attorney Harvey Dent announces that he is Batman, to draw the Joker out of hiding. The Joker then tries to kill Dent as the police is dragging him away, but Gordon and Batman intervene and arrest him.

Batman attempts to interrogate the Joker, but proves unsuccessful, but the Joker still reveals that Dawes and Dent have been taken to opposite sides of the city, though him giving out that information was only part of his plan, far enough apart that Batman does not have time to save both of them, and placed in warehouses rigged with explosives. Batman speeds off to save Dawes, while Gordon and the police head after Dent. However, the Joker has switched the locations, sending Batman after Dent and Gordon after Dawes. With the help of a bomb planted at the police station, the Joker escapes with Lau in tow. He later burns him on top of his half of what was previously the Mob's money.

After escaping, the Joker threatens to blow up a Gotham Hospital if one of Bruce Wayne's employees, Coleman Reese (who supposedly knows Batman's true identity) is not killed. This causes all the hospitals of Gotham to be evacuated, allowing the Joker to infiltrate the Gotham General Hospital to speak with Dent, who was disfigured with severe burns to the left side of his face and driven to madness over the loss of Dawes. The Joker frees Dent from the hospital and convinces him to exact revenge on the cops, mobsters, Gordon, and Batman. After both leave, the Joker blows up the hospital.

The Joker then declares that he will rule the streets and that anyone left in Gotham at nightfall will be subject to his rule. He states that if order is to be in Gotham, Batman must die. Eventually the city attempts to leave, although, all road ways and bridges have been cut off. However, two ferries remain and each one becomes full. One carries criminals from Arkham and other prisons, and the other carries regular citizens. The Joker plants explosives on the two ferries of evacuees and gives the passengers on board the chance to destroy the opposing vessel, in order to save their own lives. Using the help of his "sonar-vision" and Lucius Fox, Batman tracks the Joker to Prewitt Building. Batman takes down the henchmen, disguised as doctors, and takes down the SWAT team from targeting the innocent citizens, forced to dress like henchmen. The hero then comes to the Joker who sends Rottweiler dogs at him, and hits Batman with a steel pipe. Attempting to block, yet getting overpowered by the steel pipe, the Joker manages to subdue Batman but eventually, is caught off guard when Batman projects the steel spikes off his gauntlet at the Joker causing him to release his grip on Batman. Then being thrown over the edge of the building, yet saved by Batman's grappling wire, the Joker hangs upside down as Batman prevents the Joker from blowing up the ferries when both vessels' occupants decide they would rather not sacrifice the lives of the passengers in the other vessel for their own. Remaining upside down, the Joker acknowledges that Batman really is incorruptible, but that Dent was not, and that he has unleashed Two-Face's madness upon the city. The Joker is never shown later, but he is presumably taken to Arkham Asylum by the police.

Dark Knight Rises

When Bane sets the prisoners free, it is mentioned in the novel adaption that the Joker is not among them. Rumors persisted that he was the last inmate at Arkham Asylum, if he was still alive at all. Most believe he escaped from custody, but his whereabouts and condition since the last film are unknown.





Like all versions of the Joker, this is depicted as insane. However, despite his insanity he often displays a calm persona. He never displays any true signs of anger. He is also very intelligent and a good planner, being able to outsmart the police on every time they try to stop him. He also shows that he can figure how people think, as well as how to manipulate their minds, shown with how he drives Harvey Dent insane. Many of his plans often forces people to make extreme choices and force them to chose between themselves and others (as seen with his proposal to Batman at the beginning of the movie, his public ultimatum to kill Reese, and his ferry scheme). The Joker has no specific goal other then to simply spread chaos and erode law. Though he claims this because the only sensible way to live is without rules, considering his sadistic nature his motive simply seems to be that he only wants to see chaos spread for his own amusement.

Fitting his goal, the Joker makes it clear he does not care about anyone or anything, even himself. He willingly puts himself in danger without any regard for what might happen to him. He is not bothered by pain, as shown when Batman tried interrogating him, in which the Joker allowed himself to get pummelled without fighting back (He even gives Batman tips on how to better interrogate him) and simply laughed (likely at Batman's frustration), even though Batman slammed his face into a mirror. He does not seem to fear death either, as demonstrated when he threatened to detonate a set of explosives rigged to his jacket when crime boss Gambol was about to kill him for insulting him, and again when Batman threw him over the edge of the skyscraper during their final battle, and instead of screaming in fear, laughed manically to himself. Despite that, he apparently is not willing to put all of his faith in a plan unless he is sure it will work. After Batman stops him blowing up the two ferries, the Joker states that his real plan to try and break down law in Gotham was driving Dent insane, laughing at Batman thinking that the Joker was going to risk his whole plan on a fist-fight with him.

The Joker initially acted as though he wanted to kill Batman, he later reveals that he does not want to kill him. When Batman asked the Joker why he wanted to kill him, he laughed and replied "Kill you, I don't want to kill, what would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mobsters. You complete me." When Batman later refuses to kill the Joker after subduing him near the end of the movie, the Joker states that he cannot kill Batman because he is "too much fun." He believes that because of this, he and Batman are destined to fight each other forever.

  • This version of the character is exclusive to the continuity of the Nolanverse film series and is an adaptation of the Joker. The original character was created by Jerry Robinson, Bob Kane, and Bill Finger and first appeared in Batman #1.
  • This version of the Joker appears in the 2008 Warner Bros. film The Dark Knight and was portrayed by Heath Ledger. This iteration of the character is purported to be the darkest version of the Joker to date.[citation needed] Heath Ledger is the third actor to bring the character of the Joker to the big screen. The first was Cesar Romero in the 1966 film Batman. Jack Nicholson played the character in the 1989 film. Ledger's Joker made a behind-the-scenes appearance at the close of 2005's Batman Begins. At Gotham City Police Headquarters, Lieutenant Gordon commented that with the appearance of a caped vigilante such as Batman, it stands to reason that Gotham's criminals would develop a "taste for the theatrical". With that, he handed Batman a Joker playing card that was recovered from a crime scene.
  • Unlike all other versions of the Joker (both in print and theatrical), Ledger's incarnation is the only Joker who is specifically known to wear makeup to create his identity as the Joker. He adopts the makeup as his "natural" face, and refuses to clean off and reapply the clown makeup in successive scenes which causes the material to continually decay and gives him a more unkempt appearance as the film progresses. There is only one scene where the Joker can be seen without any makeup. During the memorial service for Commissioner Loeb, the Joker masquerades as a police officer in an effort to assassinate Mayor Anthony Garcia.
  • Another aspect of this version of the Joker is that the he seems to be able to hold his own in a fight against Batman. During their first confrontation, the Joker manages to lay a few hits upon Batman. During the Joker and Batman's final confrontation, the Joker becomes extremely provoked by Batman and manages to beat down and subdue him. The Joker beats Batman so hard, using fists and a steel pipe that he causes Batman's sonar-vision to malfunction, temporarily blinding him, and giving the Joker an even greater advantage.
  • Unlike all his counterparts, this Joker does not have his famous Joker Venom.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, the Joker is neither mentioned or seen in any way. This was out of respect for Heath Ledger. However, in the novel version of The Dark Knight Rises, it is suggested that the Joker is a lone inmate at Arkham Asylum and may have escaped before Bane's revolution.
  • The Joker was Heath Ledger's final completed performance, having done all his work on the movie shortly before his death in January 2008. (He was working on another movie, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus at the time of his death.)
  • The viral marketing for The Dark Knight was initially centered on the Joker, with news on the movie released in . This changed after Ledger's death, with Harvey Dent becoming the new focus.
  • Ledger's performance gave him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.


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