|“||Jack? Jack is dead, my friend. You can call me… Joker, and as you can see, I’m a lot happier.||„|
|~ The Joker taking up his identity.|
|“||Tell me something, my friend. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? (Bruce Wayne: What?) I always ask that of all my prey. I just like the sound of it.||„|
|~ The Joker’s most infamous quote.|
He was portrayed by Jack Nicholson, who also portrayed Colonel Nathan R. Jessup in A Few Good Men, Jack Torrance in The Shining, James R. Hoffa in the 1992 film Hoffa, and Frank Costello in The Departed.
|“||Tell me, kid. You ever dance with the devil by the pale moonlight?||„|
|~ Young Jack Napier threatens young Bruce Wayne.|
Napier was born in Brooklyn and came to live in Gotham. In his school years, Jack proved himself to be emotionally unstable, but highly intelligent, showing aptitude in art, science, and chemistry. He also turned to a life of violent crime. When he was fifteen, Jack was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon.
Years later, as a young man, he and his partner in crime mugged Bruce Wayne’s parents, Dr. Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha, while they were walking home from the movies. When Thomas interceded to protect his family, Napier stepped from the shadows and shot both him and Martha in cold-blooded murder. Napier pulled the hammer back on his gun and next pointed it at Bruce. Napier inquired “Tell me, kid… you ever danced with the devil by the pale moon light?”. Before Napier could fire, his panicked partner urged him to leave, saying “Let’s go, Jack” (which caused Napier to turn to his partner with a puzzled look). Napier decided to spare the boy and left, saying, “See you around, kid.”
Little did Jack know that his prediction would come true — that he and Bruce would meet again someday..
Meeting Batman and Becoming the Joker
|“||Eckhardt!! Think about the future!||„|
|~ Jack, as he is about to kill Lt. Eckhardt.|
Years later, Napier became the right-hand man of the crime boss Carl Grissom, but when Carl found out that Napier was fooling with his girl, he called Lt. Eckhardt to kill his right-hand man, who (along with his men) was trying to erase evidence of criminal activity in the Axis Chemical Factory.
Eventually, Napier meets Batman for the first time. Before he was going to escape, he kills Eckhardt after he told him to think about the future. Napier then turned the gun on Batman and caught a ricocheted bullet through his cheeks; in a panic, Napier stepped off a catwalk over a vat of a toxic chemical. Though Batman caught Napier's arm and attempted to pull him back up to safety, Napier's leather glove slipped through Batman's and he plummeted into the chemical vat below him.
Napier somehow survived and the reaction of the chemicals left him with chalk white skin, green hair and red lips. He tried to do reconstructive surgery, which severed critical facial nerves, leaving him with a wide, ridiculous and famous smile. He began to realize his insanity after looking through a mirror, much to the surprise of the surgeon. He returned to Grissom's office to kill him in revenge for his attempted murder, which he did and became the new crime lord known as the Joker. When sitting on his now deceased boss' desk, he picks up a newspaper which reads "Winged Freak Terrorizes Gotham City". Now wanting publicity and plotting to get rid of Batman, he replies with a smile "Wait til they get a load of me", and then laughs.
When he learned about Vicki Vale, the Joker fell in love with her and tried to steal her from Bruce Wayne. He made a remarkable and drastic entrance near the city hall where he killed a fellow crime lord with his quill pen. His mime henchmen then started to shoot all over the place, with Bruce Wayne being "hit", but survived. He then heads for his limo and solemnly waves goodbye to Bruce before taking off.
The Last LaughThe Joker begins his "parade" at the start of the Gotham City Festival that celebrating the city's 200th anniversary, bringing very hefty sums of cash to all Gotham's citizens. Along with his parade were his precious and cartoonish balloons filled with the deadly Smylex gas made from the ingredients used to create his cosmetic Smylex products. He notices Batman's Batwing up in the sky and proceeds to go as planned with his balloons. After throwing the money to everyone in the streets, the Joker wrapped up his speech saying everyone should "go with a smile".
But after Batman stopped his maniacal festivities and saved everyone from the Joker's Smylex via his Batwing, he shot and killed his right-hand man Bob the Goon, and eventually went on to face Batman while his men ordered everyone to leave the money-littered, panic-stricken streets. The Joker used his peashooter revolver and shot the Batwing down. He then found Vicki Vale near the Batwing in front of the old Gotham City Cathedral and takes her hostage (telling her “Darling, I’ve got to get you to the church on time”).
Batman followed them into the cathedral. While Batman battled his thugs, Joker dances with Vicki before the Dark Knight finally faces him.
|“||Sometimes I just kill myself!||„|
|~ The Joker's last words.|
During their deadly confrontation, in which they identify each other and their motivations, Batman repeatedly beats up the Joker and manages to knock him off the balcony, but the Joker reached both his arms up, and managed to pull Batman and Vicki down, themselves holding on for life from a narrow ledge. The Joker's helicopter arrived to retrieve him to safety. Batman used a grappling hook to tie Joker's ankle to a large, heavy gargoyle. Batman sealed The Joker's fate when he broke it loose.
Unable to break free from the heavy burden of the gargoyle, The Joker lost his grip on the helicopter's rope ladder and fell screaming to his death, hitting the cathedral's flight of steps below hard, breaking every single bone in his body.Ironically, just a few seconds beforehand, he said "Sometimes I just kill myself!" Commissioner Gordon came upon The Joker's body, hearing a repetitive laugh. He reached into The Joker's coat and pulled out a laugh box that had been activated by the landing.
Despite the Joker's reign of terror finally met to an end for good, Bruce Wayne would continue to have bad memories of Jack Napier slaying his parents for several years.
|“||He can't run this city without me. And besides, he doesn't know.||„|
|~ The Joker.|
|“||It's me, sugarbumps.||„|
|~ The Joker to Carl Grissom.|
|“||Fried? Is that what you heard? You set me up over a woman. A WOMAN! You must be insane.||„|
|~ The Joker complaining to Carl Grissom that the latter set him up over Alicia Hunt.|
|“||I've been dead once already. It's very liberating. You should think of it as... therapy.||„|
|~ Jack Napier talking to Carl Grissom.|
|“||"Winged freak terrorizes… ?" Wait'll they get a load of me!||„|
|~ The Joker's famous quote laughing at a magazine about Batman.|
|“||Honey, you'll never believe what happened to me today!||„|
|~ The Joker showing his new grin to Alicia Hunt.|
|“||Well, Tony, nobody wants a war. Can't do business? We'll shake hands and that'll be it.||„|
|~ The Joker before killing a crime lord in front of the the late Carl Grissom's fellow crooks.|
|“||Ooh, we've got a live one here. Oh, there will be a hot time in the old town tonight!||„|
|~ The Joker.|
|“||Never rub another man's rhubarb!||„|
|~ The Joker after shooting Bruce Wayne, not realizing that he survived.|
|“||I'm only laughing on the outside. My smile is just skin deep. If you could see inside I’m really crying, you might join me for a weep.||„|
|~ The Joker to Vicki Vale.|
|“||If you gotta go… GO WITH A SMILE!||„|
|~ The Joker in his infamous advertisement.|
|“||Hey bat-brain, I was a kid when I killed your parents. It's just I made you, ya gotta say you made me. How childish can you get? You wouldn't hit a guy with glasses, huh, would ya? Huh?||„|
|~ The Joker before Batman punches him off the balcony.|
|“||What are you laughing at?!||„|
|~ The Joker to an inanimate gargoyle while laughing because Batman and Vicki are about to fall to their deaths.|
- Jack Nicholson’s name is often listed in the credits before that of Michael Keaton (who plays Batman), except in the end credits.
- The 1989 film’s Joker is different from his animated counterpart; while Mark Hamill’s Joker can survive long falls, Jack Nicholson’s Joker cannot.
- Also in the animated series, there have been hints that the Joker’s full name really is Jack Napier; some people think it’s either that or one of Joker’s many aliases.
- Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker in the movie was also the inspiration for his animated version’s physical appearance in the DC Animated Universe.
- He looks similar to Cesar Romero’s Joker from the Adam West Batman TV series, except his hair is more green than yellow, and his suit is more purple.
- He is the only main villain of the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher series that does not share the role of main villain with another. The villains of Batman Returns are The Penguin, Max Shreck, and Catwoman, the villains of Batman Forever are Two-Face and The Riddler, and the villains of Batman & Robin are Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Bane.
- Joker (again played by Jack Nicholson) was planned to appear in a cancelled fifth installment in the Burton/Schumacher series titled Batman Triumphant in which he would’ve appeared in a hallucination when Batman was exposed to Scarecrow’s fear toxin. Also, Harley Quinn was to appear in the film as Joker’s daughter (instead of his therapist, as she is usually portrayed). However, with the failure of the 1997 film Batman and Robin, the project was scrapped, and the series was rebooted in 2005 by Christopher Nolan.
- This concept however, later become inspiration for Joker’s hallucination that haunted Batman in Batman: Arkham Knight game, though how the apparation began to manifest was different: Joker uses his infected blood to Batman and some other people that gained blood transfusions from him.
- According to a tie-in book, the money that Joker threw into the crowd at the parade was counterfeit.
- Nicholson was first Oscar winning actor to play an incarnation of the Joker, followed by Heath Ledger (2008) and Jared Leto (2016).
- Joker's role as the killer of Thomas and Martha Wayne is typically taken by Joe Chill in the comics and other media.
- There are two things that foreshadows Jack Napier’s transformation into the Joker. Prior going to Axis Chemicals, he is wearing a purple business suit, and he pulled out a Joker card from his deck of cards.
- It’s speculated that his love for Vicki Vale was actually real. There’s a fatal flaw in this: after Batman punched the Joker off the balcony, the latter pulled him and Vicki off the balcony as both were hanging on for their lives, and the Joker was laughing.
- The name Jack Napier will be used as the Joker’s real name for the 2017 comic book Batman: White Knight.
- Before Jack Nicholson was cast as Jack Napier/The Joker, Brad Dourif, Tim Curry, David Bowie, John Lithgow, James Woods, Robin Williams and Daniel Stern originally auditioned for the role of Jack Napier/The Joker, but turned down the role.