Joseph Chillton (aka Joe Chill and Joe) was a small time crook who had the most severe affect on Batman, because he was the man responsible for killing Martha and Thomas Wayne (Batman's parents), however he regrets his decsion after he discovers he is the reason why the Dark Knight exists. Chill is provided a gun by Batman and proceeds to commit suicide (post-crisis). In the Pre-Crisis era, Chill dies before being able to annonuce Batman is Bruce Wayne. It is later revealed Chill was not just a mugger but a hitman under a order to kill the Waynes by Lew Moxon.
Not much is known about Chill except that he is, in most versions of Batman, a petty mugger who kills Bruce's parents Thomas and Martha while trying to take their money and jewelry. When he demands Martha's necklace, Thomas moves to protect his wife and Chill kills him; he then kills Martha when she screams for help (In one Golden Age version, Martha dies from a heart attack brought on from the shock of seeing her husband murdered). Chill panics and runs away when Bruce begins crying and calling for help — but not before the boy memorizes his features. In at least three versions of the Batman mythos, the Waynes' killer is never identified.
Appearances in film
Chill appears in the live-action film Batman Begins as a minor yet crucial antagonist. Like in the majority of Batman continuity, Chill is a small time criminal who, out of desperation because of extreme poverty (At the time, Gotham City was in the middle of an economic depression that was caused by the League of Shadows) mugs the Waynes outside of an opera house and subsequently kills both Thomas and Martha Wayne. He is immediately apprehended by the GCPD and is sent to jail, where he shares a cell with mob boss Carmine Falcone.
15 years later, after Falcone has escaped from prison, Chill cuts a deal with the GCPD, arranging for his release on parole in exchange for testifying against Falcone in court. Bruce Wayne has returned to Gotham to attend Chill's disciplinary hearing (which the presiding judge, paid off by Falcone, makes public in order to get Chill "in the open") to apparently speak on behalf of his parents. During the hearing, Chill claims to regret his crime, though it is unspecified whether he really is or not. Following the hearing, Bruce attempts to get revenge against Chill with the plan to murder him while he left the courthouse; he is robbed of his chance when an assassin working for Falcone guns Chill down first.
After Bruce's revelation to his close friend Rachel Dawes that he wanted to kill Chill, Dawes slaps him and says that his father would have been ashamed of him. Upon realizing this, Bruce hurls the gun into the Gotham Bay and vows never to touch one ever again. During Bruce's confrontation with Carmine Falcone, Falcone claims that when he and Chill were in jail together that Chill bragged that when he murdered the Waynes, that Bruce's father "begged like a dog" for mercy. Once again, it is not verified if this is factual or not (though Thomas Wayne did not beg for mercy in the film. If Chill really did regret killing the Waynes, it is likely that Falcone was making that up.)
Like in most Batman continuity, Chill's murdering of Thomas and Martha Wayne leads to Bruce's desire to fight injustice, which once again makes Chill inadvertantly responsible for Bruce becoming Batman.
Animated and TV Series Versions
- In the Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians episode "The Fear", a flashback depicts Thomas and Martha being mugged by someone who might be Joe Chill. When his father tries to fight him, young Bruce says "No Dad, he's got a..." and lightning is shown in the sky as his parents are shot. This flashback is later induced by the Scarecrow. This episode represents the first time that Batman's origin is portrayed on television. Batman in this instance is voiced by Adam West.
- The Justice League Unlimited episode "For the Man Who Has Everything" features an appearance by Joe Chill voiced by Kevin Conroy (the voice of Batman in the DC animated universe). In the episode, Batman is captured by the Black Mercy plant, which traps its prey in the fantasy of their heart's desire. While under the plant's spell, Batman hallucinates that his father beats Chill up after disarming him. When Wonder Woman tears the plant off of Batman however, the vision returns to reality with Chill shooting and killing Bruce's parents.
- Joe Chill is the main focus in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Chill of the Night!" voiced by Peter Onorati. This version of the character is a hitman who kills Thomas and Martha on orders from his boss Lew Moxon as revenge for Thomas Wayne putting him in jail. In the present day, Moxon is dying and confesses to a priest (Batman in disguise) that Joe Chill is an arms dealer who sells weapons to super-criminals on the black market. Joe Chill is then shown auctioning a sonic weapon to the assembled villains (consisting of Joker, Mad Hatter, Mr. Freeze, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Solomon Grundy and Two-Face). Batman confronts him, revealing his secret identity. Terrified, Chill asks for the villains for help, but when he acknowledges that Batman is the son of people he killed, the villains turn on him, accusing him of "creating" Batman. Batman defeats the villains, but Spectre manipulates events so that Joe Chill dies when Batman redirects the attack of a sonic gun, causing the roof to collapse on him. Even thought Batman chooses to save him than left him to die Joe Chill dies anyway in his arms due to his injuries. This episode marked the first time in the history of animation that Batman confronts the killer of his parents. The episode was also a Batman reunion of sorts, featuring Adam West as Thomas Wayne, Julie Newmar (60's Live Batman and Catwoman) as Martha Wayne, with 90's Animated Batman Kevin Conroy as The Phantom Stranger and Mark Hamill (90's Animated/Arkham Series Joker) as The Spectre.
- In the television series Gotham, Matches Malone occupies the role of Joe Chill and kills Bruce Wayne's parents in the first episode "Pilot". His identity as the killer isn't uncovered until the second half of the season 2 story arc "Wrath of the Villains", where it is revealed Malone was hired to kill the Waynes by The Lady for Hugo Strange. In the comics Matches Malone is an arsonist, whom Bruce Wayne takes the identity of in order to infiltrate the criminal underworld.
- In 1980, DC Comics published a mini-series called The Untold Legend Of The Batman, a codifying of his origins at and up to that point. The Joe Chill/Lew Moxon storyline figured prominently in the first issue. When an audio play was produced based on this comic, Chill's dialogue was voiced by as-yet unknown actor.