Hello everyone, this is the first of a series of myTakes where I will be briefly introducing the origin stories of popular, and few not so popular, comic book characters. The Joker is one of the few comic book villains that is loved as much as his respective hero, the perfect yin to Batman’s yang. The inspiration for the character came from the 1928 film, “The Man Who Laughs”.
Actor Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine in "The Man Who Laughs".
But how did the Clown Prince of Crime come into being?
In comic books, parts of the origin of the Joker have been revealed through short flashbacks. His insanity makes him an unreliable narrator. In his own words,
Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another ... if I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!
The most popular interpretation of the character’s past has been introduced in “The Killing Joke”. Previously a laboratory worker, Jack Napier quits his job to become a stand up comedian, in order to support his pregnant wife. However, he was unsuccessful. Struggling with poverty in a dog-eat-dog world, he agrees to take part in a robbery donning the alter-ego of “Red Hood”.
Jack Napier as The Red Hood
With Batman’s interference the heist takes an unexpected turn. Desperately trying to escape, Red Hood falls into a pool of chemical waste that bleaches his skin, colours his hair green and turns his lips red.
His disfigured physical appearance and the sudden death of his wife and unborn child push the comedian into insanity, creating the Joker, and marking the beginning of an endless struggle between good and evil.