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Joker (DC Animated Universe)

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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!
~ Joker telling Batman how he tortured Robin until he went insane.

The Joker is one of the main antagonists of the DC Animated Universe which started with Batman: The Animated Series and continued through the series making up the DC Animated Universe (or DCAU). Like most characters in the DCAU, he is an iteration of the Joker from the DC comic books. The Joker was voiced by Mark Hamill, who may now be as well known for this as for his live-action role as Luke Skywalker. Starting out, he was an unknown crook working for the mob as an enforcer. Like in many versions of the his origins, Joker was accidentally knocked into a chemical vat at the Ace Chemicals factory following a chance encounter with Batman and had his skin bleached white, hair turn green, his lips colored bright red and his mind completely warped, turning him into an unhinged, sadistic madman.

History

Batman: The Animated Series

Past

Joker mob days

Joker before his disfigurement.

The Joker was an unnamed assassin working for Salvatore Valestra, Buzz Bronski, and Chuckie Sol. The mob sent him to kill a businessman who had embezzled from them. Sometime later, he formed his own gang and robbed the Ace Chemical plant. Batman arrived, and in the ensuing scuffle, the thug fell into a vat of chemicals and became the Joker, also apparently destroying his sanity. While placed in Arkham Asylum often, he gained a secret ally in Doctor Harleen Quinzel, who fell in love with him and eventually joined his gang as his chief flunky, Harley Quinn.

As The Joker

The Joker 1
(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"

As the Joker, he pulled numerous schemes for both his own amusement and for personal profit, such as a Christmas-themed kidnapping of Commissioner Gordon, Summer Gleeson and Harvey Bullock (Christmas with The Joker), filling Gotham City with his laughing gas using a garbage boat (The Last Laugh), planting dynamite at the birthday party of Mayor Hill's son (Be A Clown), poisoning all of Gotham's fish with his toxins and trying to copyright them (The Laughing Fish) and escaping Arkham to blow up a casino that was using his name sake, but Batman and Robin always managed to defeat him and send him back to Arkham.

In Joker's Favor, Joker tried to blackmailed a man named Charlie Collins after he encountered him on the highway, and threatened to kill his family if he didn't help him in his scheme to kill Commissioner Gordon during an award ceremony. Collins ended up getting the better of the cowardly psychopath, using one of his own fake explosives to trick him into giving up everything he knew about his family to Batman.

In Almost Got 'Im, Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Killer Croc and Poison Ivy get together and play poker, remarking on the times in which they had nearly killed Batman. Joker, believing his story was the best, saved it for last, mocking the stories of his fellow criminals. When it was his turn, Joker pulls out a portable television set and plays a recording of his failed attempt. In the tape, Joker and Harley Quinn had captured Batman and tried to electrocute him on live TV with an electric chair powered by the forced laughter of the kidnapped studio audience, but this attempt was foiled by Catwoman. Due to only being foiled by the appearance of Catwoman, all the other villains agree that Joker had the best story, while he simultaneously wins the poker game (by cheating). Joker then reveals that he had kidnapped Catwoman and was planning to kill her by turning her into cat food as revenge for her ruining his plan, although, he is then immediately knocked out by Batman, who was disguised as Croc the entire time.

Charlie Collins threatens the Joker

The Joker gets a taste of his own medicine.

In the movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, ​a vigilante called The Phantasm came to Gotham and, one by one, killed the mob leaders Joker had once worked for. Batman was accused of these crimes, but the Joker doubted this and set up a trap to kill the Phantasm before he himself was targeted. Joker eventually managed to find out that the killer wasn't Batman at all and that Andrea Beaumont, daughter of the embezzler he once killed on mob orders, had taken up the identity of the Phantasm. He fought the Phantasm, but she vanished to escape in an explosion, taking the laughing Joker with her. It remained unknown what happened to him after this. But he survived off screen and went back to do what he does best, fighting Batman and terrorizing Gotham City with his deadly jokes.
Judge Joker (BtAS)

Judge Joker

In Trial, along with other inmates in Arkham Asylum, Joker ran a sham trial for Batman with the inmates as judge and jury.

The Joker later gotten a hold of an atomic bomb, taken the mayor hostage (this was one of the very few times that he showed affection towards Harley when he realized that she had enough 'guts' to kill him), and even tried to succeed as a stand-up comedian, ruining three comedians' acts for revenge on their judgment of him as unfunny, something he could never forgive. After this, he tried to destroy all Gotham City with his henchmen, but Batman, Robin and Harley Quinn destroyed his plane and defeated him.

Superman and Financial Failure

Joker and the Laughing Dragon

The Joker steals the Laughing Dragon.

Becoming broke and desperate, Joker and Harley Quinn stole a statue of a Chinese Dragon that turned out to be forged from Kryptonite. Using this, Joker traveled to Metropolis and put himself for hire for one billion dollars to killing Superman. Lex Luthor agreed to Joker's deal. Batman eventually fought The Joker along with the Man of Steel. Then, Joker began to annoy Luthor when he demanded to be paid more to kill both superheroes. While attempting to betray Luthor (who needless to say, had also tried to betray him) The Joker ended up fighting the World's Finest in an aircraft, the explosion of which seemed to killing him, though his body was never recovered. But he survived that fall and went back to terrorize Gotham again off screen.

He turned up alive, was captured, but was shocked when he inherited millions of dollars from a mob kingpin named Barlowe, who had always despised him. Through deception was incredibly and playing the Joker's ego and greed, Barlowe set up a trap. Joker almost literally bought his way to a clean criminal record and then lived the high life on what he believed to be hundreds of millions. It was eventually revealed that only the first ten million dollars were real, which the Joker not only blew through, but was now, as Barlowe's heir, in the sights of the IRS. Joker could not reveal and possesses him, he's been tricked without looking like the clown he was. Joker decided to pull off a heist to restart his enterprises (without using any of his calling cards or signature styles that would link him to the crime), but was foiled, like always, by Batman. As he is taken back to Arkham Asylum, Harley Quinn (disguised as a police officer) beats Joker up with a baton for abandoning her to be arrested by Batman and Batgirl in the beginning of the episode and replacing her with a Fake Harley, rather than bailing her out.

Joker and Lex Luthor make a deal

Joker makes a deal with Lex Luthor.

On the seventh year anniversary of the Joker's "birth", the Joker's actions turned reporter Jack Ryder into the Creeper. The Creeper, while heroic, mercilessly harassed Harley and Joker, to the point even Joker considered Creeper to be a lunatic, actually begging Batman to arrest him. While not as obsessed as Calendar Man, Joker is fond of unleashing schemes on holidays, notably April Fools Day, Christmas, and New Year's. Creeper captured Harley and defeated the Joker in a dump park, who was later taken in custody by Batman.

After this, Harley Quinn captured Batman and tried to kill him for obtain Joker's admiration, but he hit her and throw her through the window of the building in which they were, but Batman finally fight with him in a monorail, and punched the Joker into the chimney of Ace Chemicals, apparently killing him. But for unknown reasons, he survived the mortal fall and sent some flowers and a note to Quinn.

Later life and Justice League

The Joker went to Dakota after his old gang was defeated and had local mutates known as "Bang Babies" join his new gang there. Villains such as Hotstreak and Talon eagerly joined his gang. They started a crime spree in town only to be stopped by Batman, Robin, and Static. In a particularly humiliating moment, Joker tried to shock Batman with a joy-buzzer after his defeat, only for Static to not only ignore and absorb the buzzer's power, but shock the Joker right back, only worse. Joker and his gang was arrested after that.

Not wanting anything to do with Joker after their first encounter, Lex Luthor tried to keep him out of his Injustice Gang, but was persuaded to relent based on Joker's supposed knowledge of Batman. While this proved useful at first, the openings created by Joker's overwhelming desire to kill Batman was one of many factors that saw the entire villain team beaten and imprisoned.

The Joker later went to a government building in Arizona and recruited 5 metahumans, which he called The Royal Flush Gang to create terror and chaos in Las Vegas. His real scheme was to use a girl named Ace to make all the television viewers his pirate broadcast pulled in go insane. But his smaller schemes were stopped thanks to the Justice League, while Joker made the mistake of making Ace mad at him. The young girl reached into his mind and found levels of insanity even Joker couldn't handle. For a good while, he was catatonic as a result, but he survived and recovered from being catatonic by unknown reasons.

Joker's Death

That's not funny...That's not...
~ Joker's last words
Joker death (edited)

Joker's death in the edited version

Jokers death

Joker's death in the unedited version

Years later, he planned one final joke on Batman after realizing the "game" was getting old. The Joker and Harley Quinn kidnapped Tim Drake (the current Robin and Dick Grayson's successor) and subjected him to two weeks of torture and brainwashed him into becoming a small version of the Joker called Joker Junior, also finding out all of Batman's secrets (including Batman's true identity) in the process. On top of that, he documented the whole interrogation with an old video projector and possibly slides (since he claimed he had them). Batman came to the abandoned Arkham Asylum and saw what had happened to Tim. In retaliation, Batman engaged in a bloody fight with the Joker (willing to break the Joker in two for his actions), only for the Joker to stab Batman in the knee and gloat over his success (in the edited version, he punches Batman off the edge and the blood was removed).

He gave a Bang-Flag gun to Tim to finish off the Dark Knight, but instead Tim focused his rage on the one who had broken him, and fatally shot the Joker, (in the edited version, he pushed Joker into liquids (possibly water), who slipped and grabbed the lever and pulled it down as he was slipping, electrocuting himself) and says to himself, "That's not funny! That's not..." before he dies. Tim then enters into a mental breakdown, crying whatever sanity he has left of himself as Barbara Gordon (the current Batgirl) comforts him.

The remains of the Joker were buried under Arkham, and Tim was given therapy to cope with his trauma. Commissioner Gordon learned of what happened and promised to keep it a secret, while it seemed Harley had perished during the battle as well. The other people who also knew the incident were the Dark Knight's butler, Alfred Pennyworth and Bruce's first partner and the former Robin, Dick Grayson who has left for Bludhaven. Despite the Joker's death, his actions have put a toll on heroes: though Tim was finally recovered from his trauma, but Bruce forbids him from being Robin again, holding himself responsible for endangering a young partner and swore that he will never do it again as Tim leaves. Barbara Gordon quits as Batgirl shortly after and went to follow her father's footsteps to become the new Police Commissioner later on after her father's retirement. Bruce continued the rest of his crime fighting career as Batman for years after the incident a few years before his retirement in the prologue of Batman Beyond.

Return of the Joker

Joker (BBRotJ)

The Joker in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

Hello, Gotham! Joker's back in town!
~ The Joker's triumphant return
 It seemed not even death itself could restrain the Joker. It turns out that before original Joker died, he had implanted a microchip (encoded with his DNA, memories, and personality) on Tim's neck. The chip soon began to activate itself automatically, transforming Drake into the Joker. According to the Joker, any lingering memories were chalked up as bad dreams by Drake. Over time, the Joker's subconscious awakened and began to assume control of Drake's body.

Over the course of forty years, the Joker plotted his return using Drake's body. With Drake's knowledge of communications and his martial skills as Robin, Joker staged a series of corporate thefts utilizing a sub-group of Jokerz which had formed in his absence, proving how influential he had become. With the technology, Joker created a satellite jammer and hijacked control of a Hyperion class defense satellite orbiting the planet. If any of Tim Drake's family were worried in any way, Joker would simply call on the phone with Tim's voice saying he'll be working late.

Joker then revealed himself to Bruce Wayne at a party during his return to Gotham. The new Batman managed to stop Joker from killing Bruce, but Joker escaped. After a time, Terry deduced Drake had some connection and decided to confront The Joker.

However before he could reach Joker's hideout, Joker tested the new Batman by chasing after him using his satellite to send a powerful laser at the Batmobile whilst incinerating a small part of Gotham. After stopping the beam, the new Batman tracked Joker down to his hideout (an abandoned Candy Factory called the Jolly Jack) and confronted Tim. Tim started to remember how he killed the original Joker and started to act strange; when Tim accidentally mentioned the new Batman's real name he transformed into the Joker, revealing he had deduced Batman's identity. After explaining how he survived, Joker and Batman fought.

In the skirmish, the electric joy buzzer that Joker was using gets knocked out of his hand and falls into the wiring of the jamming system, redirecting the satellite's laser straight to Joker's hideout. Batman stranded Joker within the compound and fought him one on one. In the finale, Batman taunted the Joker, saying he had only returned because he could never make the original Batman laugh. This greatly enraged Joker and he managed to trap Terry under a wooden table and started strangling him.

Joker then ordered Terry to laugh before he dies and when Joker got closer in order to hear Terry better, Terry taunts by saying "Ha ha!" and uses Joker's own toy buzzer to electrocute him on the neck. The surge destroyed the microchip, restoring Tim back to normal and destroying the Joker once and for all. After so many years of waging a one-on-one war, Batman had finally won after a long struggle, destroying the Joker forever.

Personality

The Joker was a psychopath, 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".

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 regularlry hold his own againist 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.


Revamp

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, his eyes were turned black with white pupils, and he was made to appear physically smaller and thinner. His outfit was 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.

Trivia

  • In Mask of the Phantasm, the Joker is the secondary antagonist because he murdered Andrea's father, causing her to become the Phantasm.
  • The Joker is also seen in many video games based on the Batman: The Animated Series.
  • The Joker's appearance in the DCAU is patterned after Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the character in the 1989 movie Batman.
  • Tim Curry, who portrayed It and many other villains, was originally cast to play the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. However, the casting team found Curry's performance, though extremely good, too scary for children and not clown-like so the job was given to Mark Hamill. Additionally, the voice Curry used for the Joker severely damaged his vocal cords.
  • Hamill has 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 upcoming 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, with the affection Harley feels often being very one-sided, because, as Batman put it, Joker is only capable of loving only himself.
  • Despite their interactions in Almost Got 'Im, Joker and Poison Ivy have a particular disliking for each other due to 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.

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