ICYMI: Happy Birthday Mr J
Yesterday marked the anniversary or birthday if you will, of one of the greatest psychopaths in comic book history. The Joker first appeared in Batman Issue number 1 on the 25th April 1940. Initially, he was only supposed to be around for this one appearance, with plans of him being killed off, yet, he was spared the death sentence and quickly became a big part of Batman’s life as his archenemy. As we all know, the Joker is portrayed as a mastermind of criminal activities and without any superpowers of his own he uses his knowledge in chemistry to cause his chaos.
As a youngster my first taste of this eccentric villain was the portrayal by Jack Nicholson and I soon found myself enamored by the brightly dressed Clown Prince of Crime. His warped sense of humor and love of chaotic practical jokes made him a villain that everyone could love, but the Joker was a dark and psychopathic character to begin with so why the sudden change of modus operandi?
When the first issues of Batman were released the Joker as I’ve said, was dark and psychopathic yet in 1950, he became much less of a villain and more of a lovable goofy prankster which is all thanks to the Comics Code Authority before switching back and returning to his darker more sinister roots in the early 70s. We can almost see a direct parody of this with Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker; starting off as the merciless killer Jack Napier (which was the name created by the film makers) until his unfortunate dive into the conveniently placed vat of chemicals, and we all know how much the Joker loved chemicals. This in turn created the white skinned, green haired, red lipped flamboyant, Prince (RIP) listening Ace of Knaves. He loved nothing more than lapel flowers filled with acid, electric shock treatments and revolvers that go ‘bang!’
Heath Ledgers portrayal offered up more of the controversial and darker Joker, losing the practical jokes in favour of a more sadistic and literal sense of humor, for instance his not so subtle magic trick of the disappearing pencil and the faulty detonator. As with comic origins this Joker offered up a variety of off-screen backstories, by constantly reinventing the story of how he got those scars. This only plays into the mind-set of the Joker, as even he doesn’t know where he came from or how he began with no regard to collateral damage he became an anti-hero that even had Batman contemplating breaking his own rules.
Further moving away from the goofy Joker I grew up with we have the newest contender being Jared Leto who will be making his debut in the upcoming movie Suicide Squad. I for one can’t wait to see his portrayal, yet I find myself questioning could he be another ‘reimagining’ for the rebooted Batman or is he something more? With photos appearing on the internet of a defaced Robin suit with the words “hahaha, jokes on you Batman”. Could this be a hint to the Joker killing a previous Robin just like in the Comic books or is it a hint that this Joker could have been a Robin?
Until the release of Suicide Squad many of us will be guessing, second guessing and contradicting ourselves over who this Joker will be, yet something tells me this Joker will have the last laugh.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR J!
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