The Joker is considered to be one of the greatest villains of all time since the character was first developed in the Golden age. From Jack Nicholson to Heath ledger’s brillaint portrayal, the already established Joker fan base has expanded immensely, capturing everyone’s attention. I have always been interested in reading people and understanding the psychology of how people came to be the way they are. It’s an instinct that I have tried to develop since many years now and have practiced several times, tested on people to get feedback. I have always been interested in understanding Joker’s perception of the world and his origin so one day, I came up with a profile on Joker based what i’ve deduced from his actions and behaviour and researched the DC comics intensively to prove my theory. This is what it is, A theory on his origin since none of the Joker origin stories in the comics have never been established.
Childhood is always an important link in understanding a person’s psychology. A person’s childhood years are the most moldable and form impressions easily which can affect their latter lives. According to my theory, Joker (often called Jack in the origin stories) belonged to an aristocratic family of wealth and power. His parents were extreme disciplinarians who loved order and control above anything else. As a child, joker was mischevious, a trait which his parents disapproved of immensely and was severly punished for his actions. Hailing from a high society, he was forced to conduct himself in a certain way and also dress according what the society considered acceptable which made him the same as the rest of the herd. His parents hardly ever smiled. Due to his aristocratic status, he spent his childhood alone without any friends and was neglected.
Why choose to be a joker, you ask? A Joker is someone who is supposed to bring Joy to children just like parents ought to but that never happened for Jack. Also Jerry Robinson(the co-creater of Joker) “wanted somebody visually exciting. I wanted somebody that would make an indelible impression.” Notice how the Joker always wants to grab attention? Not just by his actions but also by his clothes. As a child he was forced to wear clothes according to a dress code and had to behave in a particular fashion. He wanted desperately to stand out and get people to notice him,especially his parents. (why are children mischevious to begin with?) I can be certain that he belonged from a weathy family because money has never been a defining factor for Joker. He has never been even remotely obsessed with money.
When the Joker debuted in Batman #1 in 1940, he appeared as a serial killer who ” killed his victims with “Joker venom”: a toxin which left their faces smiling grotesquely.” He has always wanted to get approval especially his parents’. His parents hardly smiled, remember? Even in “The Laughing Fish”, the Joker disfigures fish with a rictus grin resembling his own which proves that wants to please everyone but doesn’t know how to do it. The Joker recounts many possible origin stories so it’s never been determined which one is true. I believe he does it, not to lie to others but to himself. He desperately wants to dissociate himself from his past memories that have hurt him so he keeps creating origin stories, hoping that at one point, he ,himself, forgets it completely. Maybe he has forgotten. Here’s what the Joker once said,
“Memories can be vile, repulsive little brutes. Like children I suppose. But can we live without them? Memories are what our reason is based upon. If we can’t face them, we deny reason itself! Although, why not? We aren’t contractually tied down to rationality! There is no sanity clause! So when you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unbearable, remember there’s always madness. Madness is the emergency exit. You can just step outside, and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened. You can lock them away…forever.” ―Joker
Makes sense, doesn’t it? Need more proof? In The Killing Joke, Joker said “Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another… if I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!”
LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH BATMAN
Batman is completely opposite to Joker in every single way. The monochromatic Batman represents order and discipline. Joker’s parents were the same,weren’t they? They too were disciplinarians and loved order more than anything in the world. Joker sees his parents in Batman. For him, he’d do anything to grab attention from Batman just like he used to try with his parents. According to Joker, he’s just ‘playing’ with Batman who is his playmate, something he never had in his lonely, neglected childhood. In ‘Batman: Cacophony’, during a medically induced period of partial sanity, Joker tells Batman, “Here’s the cold hard truth bats, I don’t hate you ’cause I’m crazy. I’m crazy ’cause I hate you.” He hates his parents and his violent nature was nurtured only because of his hatred towards them and Batman embibes all the characteristics of Joker’s dominating parents. Throughout Joker’s decades-long war with Batman, he has committed crimes both whimsical and inhumanly brutal, all with a logic and reasoning that, in Batman’s words, “make sense to him alone.” Sounds like something his parents must have said about Joker’s childish antics.
In “Batman R.I.P.” the Joker is recruited by the Black Glove to destroy Batman but betrays the group, killing its members one by one. After Batman’s apparent death in “Final Crisis” (2008), Grayson investigates a series of murders (which leads him to a disguised Joker). The Joker is arrested. When the Joker escapes, he attacks the Black Glove, burying its leader (Simon Hurt) alive after the supervillain considers him a failure as an opponent; the Joker is then defeated by the recently returned Batman. Doesn’t it sound like Joker escaped and killed the Black Glove’s leader to avenge Batman’s death? After all, he can’t bear to live in a world without Batman. Here’s more proof:- The 2000s began with the crossover story “Emperor Joker”, in which the Joker steals Mister Mxyzptlk’s reality-altering power and remakes the universe in his image (torturing and killing Batman daily, before resurrecting him). When the supervillain then tries to destroy the universe, his reluctance to eliminate Batman makes him lose control. Joker can’t bring himself to kill batman because he wouldn’t be himself without batman. After all, he is the only thing closest to a friend Joker’s ever had.
“Both of us trying to find meaning in a meaningless world! Why be a disfigured outcast when I can be a notorious Crime God? Why be an orphaned boy when you can be a superhero? You can’t kill me without becoming like me. I can’t kill you without losing the only human being who can keep up with me. Isn’t it IRONIC?!” — The Joker
What’s your theory?