The Joker was an enigmatic criminal with a Glaswegian smile who arrived in Gotham City with the sole intent of sowing discord indiscriminately. His only motive was to prove his nihilistic philosophy that everyone has darkness inside them once the veneer of civilised society was torn down.
The Joker treated his history like a running gag, fabricating a new story of how he obtained his scars with each retelling. The first was to the crime lord Gambol. The Joker claimed that he witnessed his drunken father murder his mother before turning the knife on his frightened son. He recited a second tale to Rachel Dawes about his wife getting cut up by loan sharks whom she owned money to. To cheer her up and show solidarity, he scared his own face, only to have her repulsed by his visage. He prepared to tell Batman another story behind his scars, but was incapacitated before he had the opportunity. The Gotham police could not deduce his identity after he was processed, with no matches from fingerprints or teeth.
The Joker started out small, leaving his "calling card" at the scenes, but made his big move by robbing a Mafia bank, giving him the leverage to bargain with the organised crime bosses, asking them to 'hire' his services to kill the Batman that plagued them all. They refused at first, but agreed after their Chinese accountant, Lau, was kidnapped by Batman.
The Joker called out Batman publicly by killing a vigilante impersonator, warning the authentic Dark Knight to turn himself in to the police or more people would die every day. His threats were not empty, and Joker began killing public officials, including Commissioner Loeb and the Judge presiding over the mob trials. After an attempt to kill Mayor Garcia, Bruce Wayne decided to turn himself in, until an impassioned speech by Harvey Dent made himself a scapegoat to draw the Joker out of hiding. The Joker tried to kill Dent while being transported in police custody, but the Joker was arrested by Jim Gordon.
The Joker, however, intended to be captured. When Batman's interrogation obtained no results the Joker baited him with an impossible decision, revealing that Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent had been taken to separate locations, forcing him to choose who to save. Batman sped off to save Dawes, while Gordon and the police went after Dent. The punchline was revealed when Batman arrived to find Harvey instead of Rachel. With the deceptive distraction occupying police, Joker escaped GCPD headquarters with Lau in tow.
After escaping, Joker burned his half of the dirty money and declared himself the criminal Gotham deserved. When Coleman Reese announced he knew the identity of the Batman, Joker placed a bounty on his head, explaining that if he was not executed in an hour a hospital would be destroyed. While emergency services rushed to evacuate the City's hospitals, the Joker infiltrated Gotham General to speak with the bitter, and severely burned, Harvey Dent. In an ultimate gesture to prove his nihilistic manifesto, the Joker tried to goad Dent into murdering him for revenge. Dent was tempted, but left the Joker's fate to chance.
With the coin toss in his favour Joker needed a new way to make his statement, and rigged two ferries with explosives. Causing mass panic, Gotham evacuated it's population via the river. One ferry carried civilians while the other transported inmates from Blackgate Penitentiary. As the boats made their way across the river, Joker announced that each ferry had the detonation device for the other ferry's bomb. If one of the boats had not been destroyed by midnight, both ferries would be blown up. Joker's location was discovered by Batman and the two fought, with Joker managing to subdue the vigilante with the aid of attack dogs. To his disappointment, no ferries were sacrificed by the deadline, so Joker prepared to detonate them himself. He was caught off guard when Batman launched his gauntlet spikes into his face and threw him over the edge of the building. The Joker was saved from the fall by Batman's grapple, but he had the last laugh when he explained to Batman that he had already won by corrupting Harvey Dent, the symbol of Gotham's righteousness justice.
- Criminal Mastermind
- Hand-to-Hand Combat (Basic)
- Psychology: Joker understands human psychology very well. He predicts his enemies' next move and uses it against them.
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. 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 most of 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 http://WhySoSerious.com . 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.
- When Bane sets the prisoners free in The Dark Knight Rises, it is mentioned in the novel adaptation that the Joker is not among them. Rumours 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.
- 1 Appearances of Joker (Nolanverse)
- 36 Images featuring Joker (Nolanverse)
- Quotations by or about Joker (Nolanverse)
- Character Gallery: Joker (Nolanverse)