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I do terrible, crazy things, and then you act all grim and gritty and stop me. And I go back to Arkham and you go back to... well, whatever it is you do when I'm not around. Brooding all by yourself in the dark, I suppose. That's just how we are. Or how we've grown to be. And it's never going to change.
~ Joker to Batman.
The Joker (real name presumed to be Jack Napier) is the secondary antagonist of the DC Animated Universe. He is a completely insane and disturbed psychopath who seeks to cause chaos, destruction and misery where ever and when ever he can, as wells as the archenemy of Batman.
He is the main antagonist of the Batman: The Animated Series show and its sequel series, The New Batman Adventures, one of the two main antagonists (alongside Lex Luthor) of the Justice League series and a cameo antagonist in the show Static Shock. He also serves as the secondary antagonist of the film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, and the titular main antagonist of the film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. He is also an iteration of the Joker from the DC comic books.
The Joker was a deranged man, even prior to his chemical bath: he harbored little remorse for any murders he committed as a hitman and even intended to start his own criminal organization. After falling into a vat of chemicals and becoming the Joker, his insanity increased, making him among one of the most dangerous criminals in Gotham, attempting to commit mass murder and chaos all for the sake of jokes. He even has little regard for his own life or safety, even laughing in instances where his own death was inevitable such as when the fairgrounds were exploding around him alongside Phantasm's preparations to kill him and during a failed evacuation from the doomed LexWing when explosive marbles were rolling towards him. He even deliberatelly aimed his gun turret on an airplane he was using to try to escape a nuclear bomb he had set to detonate, knowing he will perish just to ensure Batman couldn't disarm it. Joker also described killing as "that kind of fun" when Batman came very close to kill him for the torture of Tim Drake, even stating he should have done it years ago. When Joker returned from the dead and into the future, when he tried to kill Bruce, he admitted he despised and "hated his guts". He was best described by Bruce as a "psychopath, a monster".
Despite his evident insanity, the Joker was also shown to be quite intelligent, which was best demonstrated with the Phantasm murders, where he very quickly deduced the Phantasm's true identity, Andrea Beaumont, just from hearing her name on a secretary's announcement, knowing it couldn't have been her father as he had personally made sure he was dead from his prior life as a mob hitman. Other demonstrations of his intelligence include his deliberately stealing the Laughing Dragon due to not only deducing Superman's fatal weakness to kryptonite, but also the fact that the infamous heirloom was made out of the material, and when he deliberately chose to forego his usual trademark gimmicks for his crimes, and even sent a body double to the Iceberg Lounge while he went to rob the U.S. Mint of cash specifically to avoid having Batman track him down. Also, when the Injustice Gang managed to capture Batman, he repeatedly insisted that they kill Batman when they have the chance due to realizing just how much of a threat he posed to their plans. Even when he was "reborn" via Tim Drake, his intelligence hadn't died down, as evidenced by how he managed to deduce the true identity of the new Batman, as well as anticipating that the new Batman would deduce that Drake was in on his schemes. He also anticipated that Bruce Wayne had "monkey-wired" the new Batman and was monitoring everything they were saying at that point, even implying he was hoping for this in order to expose the truth to his old archnemesis that Drake was literally under Joker's control via a Cadmus chip.
The only thing equal to Joker's insanity was his massive ego. He perceives himself as the greatest comedian in the world and the greatest nemesis of the Batman, and will not hesitate to destroy anyone who claims or demonstrates otherwise. One example of this hubris is when he was booted out of a comedy show and got back at the ones responsible by hypnotizing them into becoming super villains in order to cement himself as the "funniest man in all of Gotham", only to end a laughingstock afterwards. Another blow to his pride is when he was made to believe that he had inherited a massive fortune from a hated rival of his, only to learn that a majority of it was fake and it was a trick to get the last laugh on the Clown Prince, enraging the Joker beyond words. Another time is when Harley Quinn managed to successfully capture Batman so that she and Joker can truly live together, but Joker saw this as an insult to his profession and assaulted Harley, going as far as to push her out of a window to her possible death. Batman then admitted that he tricked Harley into calling the Joker because he knew that his ego would never allow another to kill Batman, further damaging Joker's pride.
Bruce Wayne would later reference this character trait of Joker's when advising the new Batman on how to beat Joker by referring to him as being "vain" and "loving to talk." Ultimately, it was this arrogance that led to the Joker's demise twice; the first was believing that Tim Drake, having been transformed into Joker Jr., was firmly under his control, only for the boy to resist and end up fatally shooting the Joker in the chest, with the clown using his last breath to remark his disappointment in the following events. The other time was when Terry McGinnis began insulting the Joker's sense of humor and relationship with the original Batman, causing the Joker to become even more dangerously insane and attempt to choke the boy with his bare hands, allowing Terry to destroy the chip on his neck and end his threat once and for all. Ironically, the latter instance came about after the new Batman decided, instead of blocking out Joker's taunts and powering on through (Bruce Wayne's original tactic of dealing with him), to beat Joker at his own taunts due to realizing that the new Batman himself also "liked to talk."
Owing to his more clown-like appearance, he generally uses more comedy-based elements in his crimes and plans. As such, he also tended to use abandoned or otherwise defunct toy/candy factories or warehouses with some sort of comedy/clown theme as hideouts, like Laffco Toy Factory, the defunct World of the Future Fair fairgrounds, Funnibone Shipping, and the Jolly Jack Candy Factory.
Abilities and Equipment
Throughout the years, the Joker used a wide variety of instruments to exact his comedic homicides. He is as brilliant as he is insane and he has sufficient expertise in chemistry and physics to be able to invent gadgetry and concoct elaborate schemes. His equipment included card-shaped blades, guns [of the trick and real variety], joy buzzers [which electrocuted the victim], a wide variety of laughing gases [which incapacitated the victim with laughter], and his deadly Joker Venom. Most famously, Joker had a flower attached to his suit. This flower emitted a wide variety of chemicals, depending on the situation and Joker's mood. Laughing gas and acid were popular variants, but the possibilities were limited only to the Joker's mind.
The Joker also seemed to have a strange relationship with death, constantly surviving and coming back from potentially fatal things-including long falls, explosions, and even being psychically mind-wiped, to name a few-that should by all rights have ended his career, although the last aspect may have been due to the complexity of Joker's own mind. Even when he was killed by the brainwashed Tim Drake, Joker still managed to cheat death through Tim himself, surviving long enough to come into conflict with the new Batman but was destroyed once and for all.
Originally, the Joker possessed little more than average physical strength, albeit enough to regularly hold his own against the original Batman. But upon inhabiting Tim Drake's mind, he acquired the training, conditioning and knowledge of the original Batman and Robin, allowing him to easily outmatch the new Batman in a first fight.
Along with the rest of the cast, the Joker underwent a revamp when Batman: The Animated Series streamlined into The New Batman Adventures. Joker's change was relatively minor; however, he lost his trademark red lips, his hair was almost black but retains the green highlight in his hair, his eyes were turned black with white pupils, and he was made to appear physically smaller and thinner. His outfit was changed from having an orange shirt and blue bow-tie to a light green shirt and dark purple bow-tie. Audio commentary on the DVD release of Superman: the Animated Series episode World's Finest and one of the first appearances of Joker's new style, reveals that the producers of the DCAU regret the stylistic change, and admit that removing Joker's red lips was a mistake, and that doing so was Glen Murakami's idea.
The character was altered again for Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, this design, using elements from the original design with the second design's angular style such as the same outfit from the second design, was later used for the character's appearances in Static Shock and Justice League.
(singing) Jingle Bells, Batman smells. Robin laid an egg. The batmobile lost a wheel and the Joker got away! (rocket tree takes off) Crashing through the roof, in a one-horse open tree. Busting out I go, laughing all the wheeeee! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!
~ Joker singing "Jingle Bells".
That's it! That's what I want to see. A nice big smile.
~ Joker to Sal Valestra.
I know you're trying to cheer me up Harley, but you see, any time I blow a billion dollar deal... IT REALLY KILLS MY APPETITE!!!
~ Joker shouting at Harley Quinn.
What's the matter, Batman? No witty comeback? No threat? Then I'll provide the narration... I'll begin with how I peeled back the layers of the boy's mind. Oh, he bravely tried to fight it at first. You would've been proud to see him so strong. But all too soon, the serums and the shocks took their toll, and the dear lad began to share such secrets with me. Secrets that are mine alone to know... Bruce. It's true, Batsy! I know everything. And kinda like the kid who peeks at his Christmas presents, I must admit, it's sadly anti-climactic. Behind all the sturm and bat-o-rangs, you're just a little boy in a playsuit, crying for mommy and daddy! It'd be funny if it weren't so pathetic. Oh, what the heck, I'll laugh anyway. HA HA HA HA HA HAA!
~ The Joker to Batman on how he tortured Robin into insanity.
That's not funny...That's not...
~ Joker's last words in the uncut version.
Hello, Gotham! Joker's back in town!
~ The Joker's triumphant return.
The Joker is also seen in many video games based on the Batman: The Animated Series.
In Mad Love, The Joker makes a reference to his voice actor's role as Luke Skywalker.
Tim Curry (who also portrayed It, Hexxus, and many other villains) was originally cast to play the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. However, Curry was forced to drop out of the role after contracting bronchitis, and the role was eventually given to Mark Hamill.
Also, while the producers thought Curry's portrayal was fantastic, they felt it was too scary for young viewers.
Mark Hamill has also voiced Joker in other media, most notably the Batman: Arkham series, playing the character in Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, and Arkham Knight, as well as the version from the animated film adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke. This Joker, while definitely his own character, also has distinct aspects of the character as seen in the DC Animated Universe. See here for the Arkham Joker or here for the version from The Killing Joke.
Joker's relationship with Harley Quinn is frequently shown as abusive and at times very pathetic, as the affection Harley feels is usually shown to be very one-sided; as Batman put it, Joker is only capable of loving himself.
While retaining some of his comedic qualities, The Joker was far more evil and depraved in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm than in Batman: The Animated Series, showing for the first time his sadistic murderous tendencies. He is revealed to have killed Andrea Beaumont's father under the orders of the Valestra mob even after Beamount paid them, kills Salvatore Valestra when he comes seeking his help, poisons Arthur Reeves up to the point he renders him insane and tries to repeatedly kill Andrea and Batman upon becoming aware that the former is the Phantasm. Indeed, from The New Batman Adventures onwards, The Joker became a more deadly and dangerous enemy until reaching his highest point in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, where he definitely crossed the Moral Event Horizon by brainwashing and torturing Tim Drake, leaving him mentally scarred for a long time.
This is actually very fitting; Batman: The Animated Series was subject to censorship when it aired in FOX, as the network had strong rules regarding the show's content. As such, The Joker was initially depicted more like a troublemaker than an outright murderer (although the bombs he used in the episodes "Be A Clown" and "Harlequinade" would have certainly killed people). Likewise, the Joker venom could only be used as a mere distraction instead of a mortal weapon. However, since Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was a theatrical movie, the production team was able to skip these rules, and when all subsequent DCAU shows went to be aired on Kids WB and Cartoon Network, rules were less strict, allowing them to make more direct references to death and murder and make The Joker resemble his mainstream counterpart a bit more.
Despite their interactions in "Almost Got 'Im", Joker and Poison Ivy have a particular disliking for each other because of their different relationships with Harley Quinn, as Joker wants Harley Quinn to follow him in his crooked schemes and uses her as an emotional outlet, whilst Ivy wants Harley to work with her as friends and encourages her to not follow Joker (who would betray her on a whim).
Although not confirmed, it's possible that The Joker suffers from Objectum sexuality, given his apparent attraction to Hazel the Maid, a cooking animatronic from the World of the Future Fair he maintained in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, flirting with her and even patting her on the butt. However, this is beyond anyone's speculation.
Given that his birthdate has been hinted at being around 1948, and that Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker takes place around 2041, it can be deduced that hadn't his physical body died at the hands of Tim Drake, the Joker would have been around 93 years old by this time.
While not as obsessed as Calendar Man, Joker is fond of unleashing schemes on holidays, notably April Fools' Day, Christmas and New Year's.