1. Thinking He Was Always Meant To Be A Key Character
It’s a common misconception that, from day one, the Joker was projected to be a big time player in the world of DC comic books and Batman in particular – because he absolutely wasn’t.
In fact, the initial intention was that Joker was originally meant to be killed off in Batman #1 – his very first appearance on panel – but the editor thought that he was far too good of a villain to ditch and insisted on keeping him alive. The rest is history.
As a resulting of keeping the character on, comic book fans around the world have been gifted with a character that many of them describe as their favourite. But, while it was certainly good for them, it was undoubtedly bad for Batman.
2. Thinking He Outright Hates Batman
Given the mostly murderous, psychotic and evil nature of the Joker – and given that he is indeed presented and widely known as the arch-nemesis of the Dark Knight – it’s easy to assume that he must absolutely hate him, which is what most people do indeed assume.
While there is undoubtedly no love loss between them, their relationship is by no means all about hatred of each other. In fact, on numerous occasions it has been stressed that the pair actually need each other in order to go on living.
They’re exact opposites – Batman is serious and organised, Joker takes nothing seriously and is chaotic – and they essentially form a universal balance between those two extremes that is required in order for the pair to exist.
Indeed, when Joker succeeded in killing Batman (or, at least, thought he did), it drove him to sanity. And the pair have proven that they can get on, given that they have worked together before (such as in the investigation of Penguin’s death) and even enjoyed a shared laugh together on one occasion.
3. Thinking He’s Always Been A Vicious Psycho
The people who are familiar with Joker today know him as a complete and utter psychopath. In his various forms across recent media (comic books, film etc), he has been depicted who kills on a whim and who happily runs around without the skin on his face – but he hasn’t always been like that at all.
Joker was originally created as being a very intelligent and well-educated individual, being especially knowledgeable in chemistry and general science, and being more obsessed with artwork and jewels than being a maniac.
It actually wasn’t until as recently as the 1970’s that Joker was written as being more psychotic, insane and homicidal.
His crimes were much less malevolent and more innocent and mischievous initially and he could easily have been described as a mere “rapscallion” or “prankster” as opposed to “psychotic murderer”.
4. Thinking He’s Always Had The Face Scars
The Joker is currently known for having severe facial scarring which results in a permanent smile and disfigurement that he uses make-up to disguise. Consequently, many people assume that the scars are an integral part of the character and that they have been around since his creation.
That’s actually not the case at all – his scars are actually almost completely unique to the movies. In the comics, he never really had any scars, per se. His face had been dyed paper white, his hair was dyed green and his lips were dyed bright red – with all of that being down to his famous chemical accident.
The actual “scars” that most modern readers are familiar with were actually only introduced in the very recent Batman Confidential series.
5. His Origin Story
Most people couldn’t truly tell you what Joker’s origin story is. However, this is by no means the fault of the people in question – it’s because even DC don’t even know what’s canon regarding the Joker’s origins.
Was he the leader of the Red Hood gang? Did he fall into a vat of chemicals? Was he a failed stand-up comic who was forced into crime by the gang he appeared to be leading? Did his wife die in an accident? Was she murdered by a corrupt cop? Did she actually even ever exist at all? Did his father drive him to insanity? It really isn’t clear – and that’s because he seems to forget and remember how it happened at will and, therefore, whatever he’s saying at the time can be considered canon or not canon depending on what you want to believe.
The fact is, he obviously likes to keep both his own and the readers’ options open when it comes to his origin, as epitomised by the line “If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!”
Heath Ledger’s Joker told three different stories about the origin of his and that was brilliantly symbolic of the ongoing question of who he really is. The likelihood is that nobody will ever know the true story.
6. Thinking He’s Been A Mainstay In DC Comics Since His First Appearance
Given that Joker first appeared 75 years ago and is very much still around now, it’s easy to assume that he must have been a prevalent figure in DC comic books for that whole time – but that’s not actually the case at all.
It’s hard to imagine the character disappearing for so long now, but he actually disappeared in 1964 and didn’t appear in any comics again until 1973.
He made his return when Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams (a comic book writer and artist respectively) proposed that he undergo a radical reinvention for an appearance in the story “The Joker’s Five Way Revenge” in which, after years of having been nerfed prior to his disappearance, he reverted to being a homicidal maniac who casually murdered people without thinking twice about it (essentially bringing the character to how he is today).
7. Thinking He’s Limited To DC Comics & Movies
The Joker is a true DC icon and therefore you’d be forgiven for thinking that his appearances have strictly been within the bounds of DC’s properties, but he’s actually spread his psychotic wings and appeared in media produced by other companies as well.
For starters, he has appeared in comic books that were jointly published by both DC and Marvel. Take for example 1995’s Spider-Man and Batman – he appeared alongside Spider-Man villain Carnage as the duo teamed up against their common heroic foes.
He has also appeared in comic books that were jointly published by both DC and 2000 AD. In Batman/Judge Dredd, he worked alongside the Dark Judges – as their “manager” of sorts – against the two titular characters.
More bizarrely, he has also appeared in the Hanna Barbera Scooby Doo cartoons! The Joker worked alongside the Penguin against the Scooby Gang and Batman and Robin back in 1972’s The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair.
8. Thinking Harley Quinn Is His Only Sidekick
Most people assume that Harley Quinn has always been the Joker’s main sidekick. The adoring, petite Harley – real name Harleen Frances Quinzel – stands almost unconditionally by the villain’s side and is almost as crazy as he is and you can be forgiven for assuming that’s always been the case.
The fact is, Harley Quinn didn’t actually appear in any media until 1992 and her first appearance was in Batman: The Animated Series. Such was her popularity on the show, she was drafted into the comic books, where she has remained a staple character ever since.
Prior to Harley’s introduction, however, the Joker had another sidekick called Gaggy Gagsworthy – real name Gagsworth A. Gagsworthy – and he first appeared way back in 1966 in Batman #186.
Gaggy was a dwarf who appeared in a circus show and he caught the attention of Joker when he violently lashed out at a fellow clown. He joined up with the villain as his answer to Batman’s sidekick Robin and the two would commit crimes using gags and props.
He has recently returned following a spell in jail and, having learned that Harley Quinn was the Joker’s new sidekick and assumed she was responsible for turning him from a fun loving clown into a murderous psychopath, he tried unsuccessfully to kill her.
9. Thinking Jerry Robinson Got The Idea From A Playing Card
Anyone who had heard or read the late Jerry Robinson’s take on the Joker’s conception would wrongly believe that the iconic comic book artist created the character himself, having been inspired by a “Joker” playing card, but the truth is apparently very different.
The late Bob Kane and Bill Finger were actually responsible for the Joker’s creation, having been inspired by Conrad Veidt, the actor in “The Man Who Laughs,” a 1928 film based on an 1869 novel by Victor Hugo.
It’s clear by looking at Veidt’s character in the movie that there are huge similarities between him and the Joker.
Interestingly, there has been a Batman graphic novel called “Batman: The Man Who Laughs” in reference to the works from which the Joker was influenced.
10. Thinking He’s Called Jack Napier
A lot of people – particularly those who are only familiar with the Jack Nicholson version of the character from 1989’s Batman movie – think that the Joker’s real name is Jack Napier. It isn’t.
Nicholson’s Joker was the only version of the character that has definitely used that name. In most cases, the Joker’s real name is completely unknown while, in others, his real name has simply been said to be “Jack”.
The surname “Napier” has been referenced in comic books before, but not with regards to every incarnation of the Joker and, even when it has been referenced, it’s questionable as to whether or not it was definitely his real name.
The fact is, his real name is entirely unknown.