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The Joker: Batman's Nemesis?

Updated on April 22, 2013

The Joker is a popular character in comic books, television, video games and films. This zaniest of super villains was first published by DC Comics in the 1940's. The Joker is the main enemy of the vigilante superhero Batman, the relationship between the two is dark and intense. There is not a traditional hatred as such between the two, more a case of they both recognise they are the mirror image of each other. The Joker uses Batman to define his own level of achievement and Batman uses the Joker as the reason why he fights crime.

Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn | Source

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The origins of the Joker are many and it is quite hard to pin down the exact details and chain of events that created this evil super villain. The last Batman movie The Dark Knight, had Heath Ledger playing the character and he alluded in part to three different reasons why he had his trademark smile. Generally most media and writers have agreed that he was a criminal before his rebirth as the Joker. Many of the origin stories point to Batman having some involvement of knocking him into chemicals which changed his character and appearance. Although the Joker's psychotic nature had always been present, the shock of his accident heightened his intensity.

The Joker's victims are from every walk of life and have included men, women, children, and even his own gang members. It is likely that Joker in all his escapades is directly responsible for the deaths of thousands. The Joker has definitely killed enough innocent citizens to warrant the title of serial killer and the joker has definitely murdered enough people to warrant the electric chair, it seems The Joker is saved from this fate by his obvious mental problems and personality disorders.

The Joker is always found not guilty due to Insanity, which means The Joker is then placed in Arkham Asylum, from which he appears to be able to move freely in and out his home from home. Batman has had a number of chances to rid Gotham City of its top criminal mastermind. On one occasion Batman threatens to kill the Joker, but stops himself upon realizing that such an act would make him no better than the Joker.

The Joker usually runs with a gang of loyal but rather simple thugs and hoodlums, his reputation generally guarantees total obedience from his crew. The latest movie incarnation of the Joker shows the Joker been willing to do anything to fulfill his nefarious aims. The 1960's version of the Joker compares dramatically to the modern day Joker. The 1960's Joker was more of a trickster criminal, a demented clown with a desire for riches. The Batman/Joker dynamic in the TV series was a Good versus Evil battle, now the dynamic is much darker. The Joker is painted as a homicidal sociopath and Batman as a man who must embrace the inner darkness to bring justice to the citizens of Gotham city.

The Joker in all his incarnations, has been willing to work with fellow villains for the common bad. In the comic books and television series he has teamed up with the likes of Lex Luthor, The Penguin, The Riddler and the Harley Quinn. Harley Quinn becomes fascinated with the Joker while interning at Arkham, and volunteers to analyze him. She fell hopelessly in love instantly with the Joker during their sessions, and she helped him escape from the asylum on many occasions.

When the Joker is sent back to Arkham Ayslum in a bruised and broken state after a confrontation with Batman. It spurs her on to become Harley Quinn, the sight of the injured Joker encourages Harley to wear her costume and become Harley Quinn, the Joker's sidekick. The Joker reinforces the view that the very clever can border on the insane, perhaps the Joker uses the clown persona to draw attention away from his fiendishly intelligent and warped mind.


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    • Asp52 profile image

      Andrew Stewart 7 years ago from England

      Doctor Doom is a good villain, I have added him to the list. In researching the hub i read that storyline, and found it very interesting. Despite many different writers and actors tinkering with his make up the Joker is what he is, a trickster and an agent of anarchy and chaos. Maybe he is the modern equivalent of Loki- thanks for the feedback Robwrite

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 7 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      Ah, the Joker. Classic villain.

      Have you read "the Killing Joke" graphic novel by Alan Moore? That's my favorite Joker story. It's the one where he cripples Batgirl. It also gives an origin story of the Joker as a failed comedian recruited by a group of small-time thugs to help rob the chemical plant where he used to work as a security guard. He only agrees because his wife is pregnant and he needs the money. But his wife dies in childbirth and then he is deformed when Batman knocks him into the vat of chemicals. After that, he snaps and goes homicidal. Great story, and the ending where the Joker makes Batman laugh by telling him a joke is priceless.

      Oh, and in my personal opinion, the all-time best villain in comic books is Doctor Doom.