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Joker (Nolanverse)

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Why so serious?!
~ The Joker's most famous quote

The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules. And tonight you're going to break your one rule.
~ The Joker mocking Batman during his interrogation.

The Joker was the main antagonist of the 2008 film, The Dark Knight. His depiction in The Dark Knight is often considered the darkest version of the Clown Prince of Crime since his early beginnings in DC comics (prior to a softening of character), at least in regards to 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.


Origin and Early Life

Scarred Joker

Joker without his makeup and about to shoot the mayor.

I believe whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you...stranger.
~ Joker to the Bank Manager

No one knows who the Joker really was. Little could be confirmed about his early life before he turned to a life of crime. Despite his capture, no traces could be found on his fingerprints, dental records, or DNA matches against the GCPD's databases.

In a report filed by the GCPD, there were three theories presented for Joker's identity and origin. The first was that Joker was an escaped patient from Arkham Asylum. However, that theory was debunked on the basis that his identity had no basis within any records. The second theory was that Joker was a former employee of the Harley Brothers Circus, which was documented to have connections with the mob. It was reasonable to theorize that Joker was a disgruntled former employee that had bad business with the mob. The third theory presented was that Joker was a former soldier who suffered from acute PTSD, which explained his cool demeanor and familiarity with weapons, as well as his devastating effectiveness in various forms of combat.

Batman Begins

Joker Card

The Joker's "calling card"

Shortly after the death of Ra's al Ghul, Batman discussed with Lt. James Gordon the effect that he had made on Gotham City since his appearance. Gordon then revealed that a criminal with a "taste of theatrics" had recently committed a double homicide and an armed robbery, and left behind a Joker Card as a "calling card". Gordon also warned that just as escalation occured in terms of a Police Force against crime, so might the scale and style of criminality change in reaction to Batman's appearance.

Some time later, Joker orchestrated the theft of a large shipment of ammonium nitrate from the Gotham Docks. The explosive chemical was saved for storage in the Gotham General Hospital and on two passenger ferries some time later. In addition, Joker also frequently attended the various heists and crimes that his gang committed while disguised as one of the accomplices, which was believed to be at least partially where he got his name from.

The Bank Robbery


Joker as Bozo

If you're good at something, never do it for free.
~ Joker

Several months later, a group of bank robbers under the direction of the Joker, robbed the Gotham Bank which was used as a money-laundering front for Gotham's gangs. The clown mask wearing robbers whittled down their own numbers within minutes in a series of calculated betrayals. Finally only "Bozo" remained, who revealed himself as the Joker to the Gotham Bank Manager, who had earlier confronted the robbers with a shotgun. In addition, largely because he couldn't resist appearing on-camera, Joker also deliberately unmasked himself in front of a surveillance camera and posed. The Joker then escaped with the bank's cash in a yellow school bus, concealed his identity by driving within a convoy of other school buses, and also left the bank manager at the mercy of a gas grenade that was stuck in his mouth.

Dealing with the Mob

My Card

Joker presenting his "calling card" to the mob

Why so serious?
~ Joker mocking Gambol

Shortly following the bank robbery, an Italian crime boss mentioned the Joker's recent theft of Mob owned cash to his fellow crime leaders at a business meeting, dismissed him as a threat, and said that he was a "nobody" who wore a "cheap purple suit and make-up." The Joker, overheard that comment and the plan presented to the Mob by Chinese mobster, Lau, arrived unannounced at the meeting while he fakied a laugh, as he saw their "so called plan" as a bad joke. The mobsters were at first unwilling to hear him out, and Gambol, one of the crime lords who seemed to take the most dislike for the Joker, sent one of his men to take him out by force.

The Joker stated that he wouldn't kill Batman because he was simply too much “fun” and Batman wouldn't kill him because of his “moral obligation.” In the film, instead of trying to kill Batman, the Joker attempted to show Gotham and subsequently Batman that anyone could be as bad as him under the right circumstances.

The Joker unexpectedly performed a magic trick by making a pencil "disappear," embedded the pencil in the table, and shoved Gambol's man head-first into the pencil where it indeed disappeared inside the man's head, which instantly killed him. The Joker also mentioned that his suit wasn't cheap and that they ought to know that since they bought it, which meant that he had used the money that he had stolen at the start of the film to buy his suit. Joker proposed that it was Batman's interference that had resulted in idealistic leaders like Harvey Dent rising in popularity, and offered his services to kill him for half of all the money that Lau, an illegitimate Chinese accountant, took away from Gotham for safe keeping. Joker also warned the Mob that Lau would betray them if he was arrested, and claimed to know a squealer when he saw one. While the Bratva mobster, the Chechen and Maroni were interested, Gambol, angered by the Joker's lack of respect, attempted to attack him, which forced the Joker to reveal his insurance policy: several grenades hidden under his coat, which allowed him to make a quick escape.

Frustrated, Gambol proceeded to put a bounty on the Joker: $500,000 dead or $1 million alive so he could "teach him some manners." The Joker later took revenge that night by having his men come to Gambol, and claimed that they had killed the Joker. In a bit of unintended tragic irony that regarded the fate of his actor, the Joker's 'dead' body was brought inside in a garbage bag before he attacked Gambol and proceeded to tell him the origin of his mouth scars as a way of psychological torture and intimidation. Then, when Gambol was the most terrified and shaken, the Joker proceeded to kill him with one of his knives. Then with the remains of Gambol's men overpowered and at his mercy, Joker took a pool cue, broke it in half, made it spear-like, said that there was only one spot open at the moment to join his "team", threw the piece of sharp stick at the middle of Gambol's scared men, and had his gang, which was made up mostly of mentally-ill and unstable vicious crooks that had escaped from Arkham Asylum who seemed to have taken the Joker as their leader, made Gambol's men fight to the death with the stick until only one was left, and advised them to "make it fast".

The Joker's Threat

Joker's Threat

Joker in the video featured on GCN when he killed a man who was costumed as Batman

Harvey, Harvey, Harvey Dent. Oh, 'scuse me. I wanna drive!
~ Joker to his unconscious truck driver

Joker eventually, realized that Batman had retrieved Lau from Hong Kong and that the police had struck a deal with him to testify against them. Sal Maroni and the Chechen relented, and finally hired the Joker to kill Batman. The Joker first kidnapped a Batman impersonator, filmed his murder and hung the body, complete with white make-up and Joker scars, outside the Mayor's Office. In the murder tape that he sent to the media, the Joker viciously mocked Brian Douglas (Batman impersonator) as well as terrorized him to the point of leaving him absolutely frozen and weeping, as well as taunted his beliefs and his actions. Then when he has finished humiliating and terrifying him, the Joker proceeded to give Gotham an ultimatum. Batman must take off his mask and turn himself to the authorities and every day that Batman refused to do so, he would murder innocent people day after day. As a result of Batman not turning himself in, the first major victims were Janet Surrillo, the judge that presided over Dent's indictments, and then Commissioner Loeb the former via car-bomb and the latter via inserting acid into the Commissioner's scotch, respectively.

A little fight in ya, I like that

Joker getting kneed in the groin by Rachel Dawes at Harvey Dent's Fundraiser at Bruce Wayne's Penthouse in Gotham City

Later, the Joker and his gang stormed a fundraiser at Bruce Wanye's Penthouse to kill Harvey Dent. When Joker was unable to get the guests to inform him of Dent's location, he decided to settle for killing off the guests. Joker then attempted to threaten an unintimidated guest (whom he noted bore a resemblance to his own hated father), before he eventually attempted to kill Rachel Dawes. Dawes attempted to drive Joker away, with a knee to the crotch, but he laughed it off and became more interested in killing her for her having "some fight in her." Joker was then confronted by Batman. The Joker only managed to escape by throwing Rachel Dawes out a window, who Batman then lept after and saved. That encounter also led him to initially suspect that Batman's true identity was Harvey Dent.

The killings then continued with two innocents and an attempt on the Mayor's life at a memorial for the murdered Police Commissioner, Loeb. The Joker appeared in public without makeup, impersonated one of the guards, and had most of his gang impersonate the rest of the Honor Guards. In order to further ensure that the GCPD was kept on its toes, Joker also placed a sniper rifle on the windowsill of the apartment room, as well as a timer to release the blinds for the GCPD sharpshooters to shoot at anyone hapless enough to be caught in the trap. Afterward, Joker, still disguised as an Honor Guard, shot his rifle at the Mayor, and Gordon was struck in the back after he willfully leapt in front of Garcia, in order to fake his death to avoid any future attempt by the Joker of attacking him with his family at home. As a result of that, Batman told Dent to call a press conference so he could reveal his identity and stop the killings. In a surprise move, Dent instead claimed to be the Batman himself and was subsequently arrested.

While Dent being transported to the GCPD, the Joker and his gang attacked the caravan of police vehicles to kill Dent with his weapons. Batman soon arrived to stop the assault, but stayed his hand at killing the Joker. The Joker prepared to unmask Batman, but Lt. Gordon, newly resurrected from his hoaxed death, stepped behind him, aimed his shotgun at his back, and said: "We got you, you son of a bitch." The Joker was successfully jailed at MCU, and as a direct result, Lt. James Gordon was promoted to Commissioner by the Mayor. Joker also did a sarcastic clap for the newly-promoted Commissioner.

Assault on Gotham

Joker Interrogation

Joker being interrogated by Batman about his captive's whereabouts

I don't wanna kill you! What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off Mob Dealers? No, no. You... complete me.
~ Joker to Batman during his interrogation

Dent and Rachel each awoke tied to chairs with barrels of explosive material surrounding them and a speakerphone hooked up to the other's location. Rachel confessed her love for him and agreed to marry him. Dent fell on the floor and his left side was completely immersed in turpentine. Batman arrived, but found the D.A. instead of Rachel. He realized that the Joker had lied about Rachel and Dent's whereabouts to further crush Batman's morale. Batman rescued Dent as the building exploded and the District Attorney's face was badly burned, while Gordon was unable to rescue Rachel before the explosion. In the hospital, Dent was driven to madness over the loss of Rachel, and blamed Batman, Gordon, and the Joker. That act caused Sal Maroni to tell Gordon the Joker's location, and found him and his craziness "too much" for business. The Joker later met the Chechen in a container ship with Lau and was given his reward: half of the Mob's smuggled money, which he casually burned along with Lau. Joker then betrayed the Chechen and took control of his men. He declared that Gotham deserved a new breed of criminal - one unmotivated by money or power, but who committed crime purely for fun. That corresponded with something that Alfred said to Bruce Wayne earlier in the film:"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."

The Joker then made a call to a news program where Coleman Reese was threatening to go public on the news with information about Batman's identity. He was interrupted by the Joker who stated that he had changed his mind, and believed that Gotham would be too boring without Batman. To "give others the fun," joker threatened that if someone didn't kill Reese in sixty minutes, he would blow up a hospital. Gordon then abandoned his ambush on the Joker to focus on evacuating all of the city's hospitals.

Contact with Harvey Dent

You live you die

Two-Face deciding to kill or spare Joker

Introduce a little anarchy-upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos. And you know the thing about chaos, it's "fair".
~ Joker persuading the disfigured Harvey Dent

During the mass evacuation, the Joker disguised himself as a nurse (still wearing his trademark face paint) and entered the hospital room of Harvey Dent. He first apologized to Dent, and maintained that he was not responsible for Rachel’s death as he lacked any idea for the repercussions of his actions, while the restrained Dent attempted in vain to kill him. The Joker introduced the former D.A. to his view of the world that his time in Gotham had introduced him to, that people, or the "schemers" as he called them, were the truest form of evil in the world, as it was them who laid out the plans of society, including when human lives were expendable.

To prove his argument, Joker pointed out that if his threats were aimed at 'gangbangers' or 'soldiers', then people wouldn't really care as society trained them to see the death of such people as acceptable. Thus, Joker turned the disillusioned Dent against society and against the "schemers" who put his and Rachel’s lives in danger, namely the corrupt cops who kidnapped them, as well as the "schemers" who viewed Rachel's life to be expendable, namely Batman and Gordon. After he gave Dent a gun, the Joker advised him to break away from the law that failed him and turn to chaos, which he described as the only truly fair system, as the fate of everyone would be only decided by chance, without the interference of the flawed laws of Man. Dent responded by flipping a coin to decide the Joker's fate, which gave him the same chance that Rachel had. Soon after Dent left, Joker detonated the hospital, and skipped merrily away (pausing and hitting his detonator when most of the bombs temporarily failed to blow). He and his men then stole one of the nearby evacuation buses and kidnapped the TV reporter and his crew inside.

The Ferries

Tonight, you're all going to be part of a social experiment.
~ Joker

The Joker declared that he would rule the streets and that anyone left in Gotham would be subjected to his rule. Joker told people that they could leave, but that he would have a surprise for them in the tunnel and on the bridge, which people then avoided, used two ferries instead: one ship full of ordinary civilians and one of criminals, as Gordon feared the Joker would want to recruit them. However, the Joker had loaded each of the ferries with explosives, in the hopes of showing everyone how evil and corrupt they could be. Joker gave the passengers of each ship the detonator to the bombs to the other and offered both survival if they detonated the other ferry. If they didn't choose by midnight, the Joker would then blow up both ships.

Batman discovered not only the Joker's location at an unfinished skyscraper, but that the majority of his "gang" were actually hostages who were wearing clown-masks with unloaded guns that were taped to their hands and that the people dressed as the hostages were the actual criminals. Batman was forced to fight not only the Joker's men, but the SWAT teams as well in order to save the hostages. Batman finally confronted the Joker, which led to a final battle between the him and the Joker (with the Joker using a metal bar and a knife). But Joker managed to get the upper-hand and pinned Batman under a piece of scaffolding. He gleefully waited as the ferry's deadline neared, and was visibly disappointed when both groups of passengers refused to kill the other to save themselves. The civilians voted to blow up the other ferry, but could not bring themselves to actually do so, while one of the men stepped forward, took the detonator, threw it out a window, and said that the cops should have done that from the start. As the deadline passed, Batman asked the Joker if he was trying to prove that everyone was as ugly as him deep down, and bluntly informed him that he was alone in both his corruption and insanity. Before Joker could detonate both ferries, Batman hit him with his shooting wrist-blades and threw him over the edge. The Joker started to laugh as he fell down to die, but Batman, refused to kill him, caught him with his Grapple Gun, and left him hanging for the police to capture, much to the Joker's anger.

The Ace in The Hole

With that act, the Joker acknowledged that Batman really was incorruptible, but that Dent was no longer the "White Knight". He unleashed the scarred man on the city. Joker stated that Dent was his "ace in the hole" in his plan to show the people of Gotham that everyone was corruptible, thus undoing Dent's work before his transformation into Two-Face. Batman then angrily left the Joker to dangle helplessly as he started laughing manically and then was approached by the SWAT team who had him at gunpoint.

Joker's Fate

Heath Ledger, the actor who played the Joker, died under mysterious circumstances due to a drug overdose before the movie was released but luckily, after the filming of the film was done, or at least his part. Out of respect for him, the filmmakers did not even mention the Joker whatsoever in the following film, The Dark Knight Rises. Thus, it was unknown what happened to the Joker after he was arrested. But according to the original script of the third movie, it was likely stated that the Joker was imprisoned far away from Gotham City (possibly Guantanamo Bay), and was never heard from again. Another likely scenario was that he died by the time of Bane's revolution.

The novelization of 'The Dark Knight Rises' placed Joker as possibly the one and only prisoner of Arkham Asylum, (the way Rudolf Hess was in Spandau Prison) or perhaps he had escaped. Nobody was really sure.


The Joker was nothing more or less than a personification of madness, delusional evil, mayhem, cynicism 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 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, 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 treacherous, uncaring, hypocritical, 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. 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. Unlike Two-Face, however, 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 smarter 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. Joker 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.


  • "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."
  • "I believe whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you...stranger."
  • "If you're good at something, never do it for free."
  • "Harvey, Harvey, Harvey Dent . 'Scuse me, I wanna drive!"
  • "I don't want to kill you! What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, complete me."
  • "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."
  • "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."
  • "Tonight, you're all going to be part of a social experiment. I'm ready right now to blow you all sky high."
  • "Madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little push."
  • "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We are tonight's entertainment!"
  • "What's the time?"
  • "Well, depending on what the time is he might be in one spot or several."
  • "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 things."
  • "Ah, ya made it. I'm so thrilled."
  • "LOOK AT ME!"
  • "Can you just please give me a minute!?"
  • "Does it depress you? Just to know how alone you really are?"
  • "And. Here. We. Go."
  • "Ooh, look at you go!"
  • "What happened? You balls drop off?"
  • "How about a magic trick! Ah, it's gone."
  • "Very poor choice of words."
  • "I thought my jokes were bad."
  • "The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules. And tonight you're going to break your one rule."
  • "Everything burns."
  • "A little fight in you? I like that."
  • "I like this job! I like it!"
  • "You couldn't just let me go? Could you?"
  • "I didn't rig those charges."



  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • This Joker had many similarities with the Darkrai from the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Series:
    • Both made their debut in the second installation of their respective series.
    • Both manipulated individuals and events to their own gain.
    • Both drove an individual into becoming evil and insane ( The Joker drove Harvey Dent into becoming Two Face, while Darkrai drove Dialga into becoming Primal Dialga).
    • Both desired absolute destruction and chaos of their worlds, though the Joker caused chaos and destruction simply for entertainment, while Darkrai had plans to rule the tattered remains of its world. 
    • Both had their minions help them against their fight with the heroes (The Joker had his dogs and Darkrai had his fellow Pokemon).
    • Both had backup plans should their original plan fail (The Joker was going to blow up the two ferries anyway, while Darkrai would escape through the dimensional hole).
    • Both survived their fights against the protagonist, but not without suffering some form of punishment, despite being small compared to the damage they caused (The Joker went to prison, while Darkrai suffered amnesia).
    • Both of their actions led to devastating consequences in the future.
  • 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.

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