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Villain Overview
Why so serious?
~ The Joker's most famous quote.
You wanna know how I got these scars?
~ The Joker's famous catchphrase.

The Joker is the main antagonist of the 2008 Academy Award winning superhero film The Dark Knight.

He was a psychotic anarchistic mastermind who portrayed himself as an agent of chaos, rose to power in the criminal underworld by thrusting Gotham City into turmoil, and drew Batman ever closer to crossing the fine line between heroism and vigilantism.

His depiction in the film is often considered by many to be the darkest and most realistic version of the original Clown Prince of Crime since his early beginnings in DC comics (prior to a softening of character), at least in regards to the live action films. Perhaps due to the popularity of The Dark Knight, the mainstream Joker's extreme sociopathic tendencies have begun to be more emphasized.

He was portrayed by the late Heath Ledger, who also played Tony Shepard in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Ledger later won an Academy Award posthumously for his performance as The Joker.

Personality

Some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
~ Alfred Pennyworth.

The Joker was nothing more or less than a personification of radical nihilism, insanity, cynicism, mental instability, delusional evil and anarchism. He viewed himself as not bad, good, or neutral, but rather a level higher than everyone else when it came to life. Joker believed that superficial and meaningless chaos and selfishness was basic human nature and tried to get everyone to agree with that theory.

The Joker was very egocentric and vainglorious in this area, as he disliked people who resisted or fought his opinion. The Joker took pride in having reached that conclusion before everyone else and viewed morally strong people as naive, immature, ridiculous, and foolish. The Joker was also not greedy and had no interest in money or even companionship. The Joker was really hard to place, as he knew what he was doing was evil by modern standards, but at the same time, he hoped that his behavior would become acceptable once everyone realized that anarchy was the only way to live.

The Joker was also abnormally manipulative, temperamental, treacherous, impatient, and above all sadistic. He took immense joy in others being physically or psychologically wounded and even made dead-pan jokes on the occasions. The Joker was also utterly fearless and masochistic which robbed Batman of his pain-inflicting and fear inducing tactics on his enemies.

As you know, madness is like gravity...all it takes is a little push.
~ Joker

Those traits also make Joker a good hand-to-hand opponent for the Caped Crusader despite him seemingly having no martial arts training as he frantically charged at Batman and ruthlessly wailed on him, something an opponent with a fear of getting hurt would never have done.

Similar to Two-Face, the Joker left prominent examples of chaos to chance, such as blowing up a hospital or the two ferries. However, unlike Two-Face, the Joker never left it up to something that he could not control, like a coin. Instead, he let the people of Gotham choose the outcome. He also left no option in which everyone was safe, and made it perfectly plain that people were going to die regardless of what option was chosen.

The Joker also shared characteristics with the other primary antagonists of the Batman trilogy. Like Ra's al Ghul and Bane, the Joker did not like the way that Gotham had existed or functioned, thought that his evil means were justified by their ends, used fear as torture, hid nothing of his plans from the protagonists to induce panic, and pigheadedly thought himself "ahead of the curve," to avoid facing his flaws.

Joker differed from the other two by wanting to revolutionize Gotham City rather than destroy it. He was the only one of the three who was not a martial artist or a member of the League of Shadows. The Joker was also far more maniacal and intelligent than they were and was also the only one who never found out Batman's identity. The Joker stood more or less in between the three villains as he was an anarchist, while Ra's al Ghul was flat out delusional, and Bane was admittedly: "Necessary Evil."

In addition, the Joker was exceedingly cunning, manipulative through the use of fear, oblivious to his insanity and depravity, and flawlessly thorough in his plans. The Joker's only real setback was his blind ambition that everyone was as cruel deep down as he was on the surface which caused his final plan to backfire on him. The Joker also lacked any fear of being killed in his actions, as demonstrated by his trying to goad Batman into running him over as well as laughing when Batman threw him off the roof, which made him far more dangerous.

Relationships

Allies

Enemies

  • Bruce Wayne/Batman - Archenemy
  • Sal Maroni † - Ally turned Enemy
  • Chechen † - Ally turned Enemy
  • Gambol † - Enemy and Victim
  • Lau † - Enemy and Victim
  • Rachel Dawes † - Victim
  • Mike Engel
  • Mayor Anthony Garcia † - Target
  • Judge Surrillo † - Target
  • GCPD
    • James Gordon
    • Commissioner Gillian Loeb † - Target
    • Stephens †

Quotes

Part 1

If you're good at something, never do it for free.
~ The Joker talking to Maroni
Harvey, Harvey, Harvey Dent. 'Scuse me, I wanna drive!
~ The Joker
I don't want to kill you! What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, no...you complete me."
~ The Joker confirming he will not kill Bruce Wayne
I'm a man of simple tastes: I enjoy dynamite, gunpowder, and gasoline!... and you know the thing they have in common? They're cheap. All you care about is money. This town deserves a better class of criminal, and I'm gonna give it to them! Tell your men they work for me now. This is my city.
~ The Joker compelling the Chechen to start following his way of crime
I had a vision, a world without Batman. The Mob tried to ground a little profit and the police tried to shut them down, one block at a time, and it was so... boring.
~ The Joker threatening Gotham City.
Tonight, you're all going to be part of a social experiment. I'm ready right now to blow you all sky high.
~ The Joker
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We are tonight's entertainment!
~ The Joker
What's the time?
~ The Joker
Well, depending on what the time is he might be in one spot or several.
~ The Joker making it intricate for Gordon.
Do I really look like a guy with a plan? Ya know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars, I don't know what to do with one if I caught it. I just... do things.
~ The Joker to Harvey Dent
Ah, ya made it. I'm so thrilled.
~ The Joker
So do you think Batman has made Gotham a better place? Hmmm? Look at me. LOOK AT ME!
~ The Joker
Can you just please give me a minute!?
~ The Joker
Does it depress you? Just to know how alone you really are?
~ The Joker
And. Here. We. Go."
Ooh, look at you go!
~ The Joker
What happened? Your balls drop off?
~ The Joker to the criminals and crime lords
How about a magic trick? Ta-dah! It's gone.
~ The Joker
Very poor choice of words.
I thought my jokes were bad.

Part 2

HIT ME!
~ The Joker goading Batman into committing autocide.
The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules. And tonight you're going to break your one rule.
~ The Joker
It's not about money. It's about sending a message: Everything burns.
~ The Joker burning his money
A little fight in you. I like that.
~ The Joker to Rachel
I didn't rig those charges.
~ The Joker manipulating Harvey
Don't talk like you're one of them! You're not - even if you'd like to be. To them, you're just a freak, like me. They need you right now, but when they don't, they'll cast you out - like a leper. See, their "morals", their "code"... it's a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these, ah, "civilized people"? They'll eat each other. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.
~ The Joker to Batman.
There's only a few minutes left, so you're gonna have to play my little game if you want to save one of them.
~ The Joker to Batman.
You know, for a while, I thought you really were Dent. The way you threw yourself after her...!
~ The Joker
Look at you go! Does Harvey know about you and his "little bunny"?
~ The Joker to Batman
Choose between one life or the other: Your friend the District Attorney, or his blushing bride-to-be!
~ The Joker taunting Batman.
You have nothing, nothing to threaten me with! Nothing to do with all your strength! But don't worry, I'm gonna tell you where they are! Both of them, and that's the point. You'll have to choose. He's at 250 52nd Street and she's on Avenue X at Cicero.
~ The Joker to Batman.
Uhh, you… you just couldn't let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren't you? Huh? You won't kill me, out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness... and I won't kill you, because you're just too much fun! I think you and I are destined to do this forever.
~ The Joker to Batman after their battle.
Madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little push.
~ The Joker explain how he driven Harvey Dent to insanely.

Reception

The Joker in the film has since been regarded as one of the most memorable and recognizable villains in cinema. Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker received critical acclaim, winning numerous posthumous awards for his performance, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor, a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, and a Best Actor International Award at the 2008 Australian Film Institute Awards.

"I can only speak superlatives of Ledger, who is mad-crazy-brilliant as the Joker", wrote Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, stating that the film is deeper than its predecessor, with a "deft" script that refuses to scrutinize the Joker with popular psychology. Travers praised the cast, saying each brings his or her "'A' game" to the film." Travers said Ledger moves the Joker away from Jack Nicholson's interpretation into darker territory and expresses his support for any potential campaign to have Ledger nominated for an Academy Award.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times stated that Heath Ledger's portrayal is a "key performance" and pondered whether he would become the first posthumous Academy Award-winning actor since Peter Finch in 1976. Mark Dinning from Empire magazine called Ledger's performance "monumental" and wrote "The Dark Knight is Ledger's movie. It is a towering performance. ... A force of fucking nature". Kevin Smith commented on Ledger, calling his "incredible" performance "the most frightening, smart and well-played villains ever. Ever." Mark Lee, writing for The Daily Telegraph, commented that Ledger accomplished "a genuinely unsettling, brilliant nuanced portrait of evil". Tim Teeman commented for The Times that "Ledger is so terrifying and unpredictable that his very presence on screen makes you nervous." Total Film reviewed that Ledger is "burning brightly as he embodies an icon. ... This is the definitive Joker", calling the performance "a masterpiece". For The Hollywood Reporter, Kirk Honeycutt called Ledger's performance "a beauty." Entertainment Weekly put the film on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "Every great hero needs a great villain. And in 2008, Christian Bale's Batman found his in Heath Ledger's demented dervish, the Joker." Emanuel Levy wrote Ledger "throws himself completely" into the role.

David Denby of The New Yorker, otherwise critical of the film, praised Ledger's "sinister and frightening" performance, which he says is the film's one element of success. Denby called Ledger "mesmerizing" and said, "His performance is a heroic, unsettling final act: this young actor looked into the abyss." "It's just one of the most iconic movie performances of modern times," declared chief film critic of Variety Scott Foundas.

Film critics, co-stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Michael Caine, and many of Ledger's colleagues in the film community joined Bale in calling for and predicting a nomination for the 2008 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in recognition of Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight.

WatchMojo ranked The Joker as #2 on their "Top 10 Most Iconic Movie Villains" list, behind Darth Vader. Complex, also ranked The Joker as #2 on their "50 Best Villains in Movie History" list, behind John Doe. Empire ranked The Joker as #21 on their "50 Greatest Villains" list.

Trivia

  • Heath Ledger's Joker was considered the most evil version of the Joker ever filmed.
  • Joker was the only main antagonist in the trilogy that had no affiliation with the League of Shadows. Ra's al Ghul was the former leader, Carmine Falcone was an associate, Scarecrow was an affiliate, Bane was defrocked, and Talia al Ghul was a high-ranking member due to the fact that she was the daughter of Ra's al Ghul.
    • However, his actions were indirectly responsible for their later takeover of Gotham in the next installment.
  • Mark Hamill, no stranger to Joker, called Ledger's performance "The most original (he) has ever seen since Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs".
  • Heath Ledger (posthumously) won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the Joker, which made the Joker the only comic book character to ever win an Academy Award. Film's director Christopher Nolan received the award in his name.
  • The scars on Joker's face were known as the Glasgow Smile Scars.
  • Similar to Ra's al Ghul and Bane, the main antagonists of the trilogy's other installments, the Joker's real name was never revealed and was only known by his alias.
  • A web series named The Joker Blogs acted as an unofficial sequel to The Dark Knight and followed on the life of the Joker after his capture. He was played by Scott McClure.
  • Elements of this Joker were later used in the creation of the version for the Flashpoint story arc. However, it should be noted that the latter version was depicted as a far more tragic character, being Martha Wayne, who had been driven completely insane due to her son, Bruce, being murdered by Joe Chill.
  • This is one of only two Joker incarnations who's backstory does not involve falling into a vat of chemicals and permanently being disfigured by them to resemble a clown, the only other being the version from the Flashpoint story arc.
  • When Heath Ledger portrayed the Joker in the film, he was 28 years old. Thus, it is considered to be the youngest version of the Joker ever.
  • This version of Joker shares a resemblance to the version of the animated series The Batman: both, having kidnapped a law official (Harvey Dent in the Nolanverse, Ethan Bennet in The Batman) corrupts them by transforming them into two criminals.
  • Before the Premiere of the Documentary I Am Heath Ledger, Heath's sister Kate debunked the rumor that the role of the Joker Contributed to his Death saying “Honestly, that’s been the biggest thing for us as a family,” “He had an amazing sense of humor and certainly playing the Joker, for him it was one big gag. He had so much fun doing that. It was actually the exact opposite. There was no doom and gloom. ... That was a shock to me that people even thought that, really.” She also revealed he loved playing the Joker and that he planned to reprise the role. “He was a really happy person and he had huge plans for his future,”“I spoke to him the night before (he died) and we were laughing and joking. He was so proud of what he had done in Batman. And I know he had plans for another Batman. He loved working with Chris Nolan and Christian Bale and Gary Oldman. He just had the best time ever doing that film".
  • Whenever he removes his gloves except when he's disguised as a nurse, bits of his facial makeup can be seen on his hands.

Navigation

           Batman Nolanverse Villains

Batman Begins
Ra's al Ghul | League of Shadows (Scarecrow & Ra's Decoy) | Carmine Falcone | Victor Zsasz | Joe Chill

The Dark Knight
Joker | Two-Face | Sal Maroni | The Chechen | Gambol | Lau | Bank Manager | Michael Wuertz | Joker's Thugs (Thomas Schiff, Chuckles, Kilson, Bus Driver, Happy, Dopey & Grumpy) | Burmese Bandit

The Dark Knight Rises
Bane | Talia al Ghul | League of Shadows (Barsad) | Catwoman | John Daggett

The Headlined Villains
2009

January
Shadow Queen

February
None

March
Lord Voldemort

April
Darth Vader

May
Dahlia Gillespie

June
Smithy

July
Manfred Von Karma

August
Light Yagami

September
Lee Woo-jin

October
Imhullu

November
Gaston LeGume

December
None

2010

January
Leatherface (original)

February
GLaDOS

March
Edward Hyde

April
Dimentio

May
The Chairstealer

June
Walter Sullivan

July
Vlad the Impaler

August
None

September
Audrey II

October
Albert Wesker

November
None

December
Skynet

2011

January
Thanos (Marvel)

February
Big Brother (Nineteen Eighty-Four)

March
Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez

April
Lord Zedd

May
Magneto

June
Cthulhu (Lovecraft)

July
Shredder (1987 TMNT)

August
None

September
Cobra Commander

October
None

November
None

December
None

2012

January
Doctor Doom (Marvel)

February
Lucifer (Dante's Inferno)

March
Vilgax

April
Peter Stegman

May
Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal)

June
President Coriolanus Snow

2013

February
Dominic Greene

September
Chase Young

December
Benjamin Willis

2014

May
Kyuubey
Geese Howard
Horace Pinker

July
Kurumi Tokisaki

August
Grand High Witch

September
James Moriarty

October
Koba

November
B.P. Richfield

December
Judge Claude Frollo

2015

January
The Grinch

February
Darth Nihilus

March
Darkseid (DC)

April
Fallen Hana

May
Dick Dastardly

June
Francis Dolarhyde

July
Nyarlathotep (Lovecraft)

August
Pamela Voorhees

September
Frieza

October
Agatha Trunchbull

November
The Beldam

December
Santa Clause

2016

January
Randall Flagg

February
Alex (A Clockwork Orange)

March
Yog-Sothoth

April
Esdeath

May
Count Dracula (Bram Stoker)

June
Jerome Valeska

July
Lord Shen

August
Bill Cipher

September
Tate Langdon

October
Oogie Boogie

November
Dr. Venom

December
Krampus (Krampus)

2017

January
Joker (Nolanverse)

February
Lust

March
Lubdan

April
Sauron (Middle-earth)

May
Aku

June
General Grievous

July
Norman Osborn (Marvel)

August
Jaws (007)

September
It (Stephen King)

October
Ridley (Metroid)

November
Venom (Marvel)

December
Stripe

2018

January
Frank the Rabbit

February
Queen of Hearts (Disney)

March
Bowser

April
Bebop and Rocksteady

May
Ainz Ooal Gown

June
Father (Fullmetal Alchemist)

July
Thulsa Doom

August
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