Everyone loves The Joker. He’s weird, evil and he’s always happy! He’s also the only villain to really get under Batman’s skin. How? Well, if you can’t predict what The Joker is going to do next, how do you prepare? There have been many origin stories regarding The Joker, but one particular one makes the most sense and it comes from the graphic novel, The Killing Joke. Let’s jump into it!
A long time ago in Gotham City, there was an aspiring comedian named Jack. Jack was down on his luck and struggling to get by because his dream of being a comedian just wasn’t paying the bills. What made things worse is that Jack had a wife who was pregnant with their first child.
Jack didn’t want the baby to suffer a sad life of being poor so he did what he had to do to make ends meet. He ended up getting caught up in mob activity with odd jobs.
During a particular job, he was hired to help rob a factory next to Ace Chemicals, where Jack once worked as an Engineer. The two mobsters who accompanied him needed his knowledge of the facility to complete the job.
Soon after, police arrive and the mobsters try to implicate Jack as being the mastermind of the entire job by making him wear a domed red helmet and appear as The Red Hood.
Batman, who was in the area investigating the crime, barges in and after the two mobsters are killed by police, he jumps off a platform into a vat of chemical waste out of fear.
He was able to breathe in the helmet and was spit out of a pipe outside the facility. After removing the costume, he discovers that his skin is bleached white, his hair is now green and his lips are bright red.
When the mob hears about the situation, assuming that Jack was dead, they sent a dirty cop to murder his wife and unborn child in order to tie up loose ends. The wife and child burn to death in an “accidental fire” at the home.
The death of his wife and child drive Jack mad and thus, The Joker was born.
That’s the gist of the story of Joker’s origin, but it changes from time to time in both the comics and other media. With the recently announced standalone Joker movie starring Joaquin Phoenix, it’s hard to tell which direction they will decide to take the story.
The character of the Red Hood ended up being taken on by former Robin, Jason Todd. That origin story involves the Joker as well.
The beauty of the character of The Joker is that his entire existence is mysterious. No one knows for sure who he is or where he comes from. In fact, my favorite quote from the Joker himself regarding his origin is,
“Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another… if I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!”
Images and gifs come from The Killing Joke graphic novel and animated movie.