A shrill laugh suffocates a city, drowning it in madness and intoxicating it with destruction. As chaos tips the balance and as the rain floods the unjust night, a symbol is flashed across the night sky. It is something that brings fear to the hearts of the unjust.
Now dawns a fight of two iconic characters, the Batman and the Joker. In 1940, these characters were published for the first time by Detective Comics as rivals. Since then, these two fictional characters share a special place in the hearts of all DC fans worldwide. For the last 40 years, they have evolved and changed in different ways. Let’s take a journey to uncover the ups and downs that made these characters dazzle as they do now.
What makes the Batman and the Joker so special?
In the golden comic era, as fans remember it, DC issue #27 (1939) first displayed the character Batman. In 1940, the Joker was published for the first time by DC. A common perspective appreciated by the audience then and now was the difference in personalities and vigour displayed by the characters. However during the 1940s, both the Batman and the Joker weren’t shown to be as serious or dark as they are in the modern era. However the evolution in their individual stories continues to grow. Today, it involves a wider audience of all age groups to experience the epic battles fought between these two characters.
Both characters are equally smart in their own ways, where one lacks the other has an advantage. Bruce Wayne is the one of the most powerful billionaires, playboy and industrialist of Gotham city. He lives in Wayne Manor which is located at the end of the city. He makes his appearance as the hooded figure at night. The Joker on the other hand has lived in many places and used these buildings to scheme in. For example, in Batman: The Animated Series he lives in a deserted carnival and at times he’s seen in an abandoned warehouse. However the Joker keeps moving from place to place, so as not to be discovered.
Skills, gadgets and vehicles
Both characters have an array of special gadgets and vehicles that compliment the theatrical personality of the character. Batman has a variety of gadgets in his utility belt like the batarang, bat hook, bat cuffs and many more. The suit is coloured black to represent the night and the cape is designed to match the wings of a bat. The symbol of the bat on the chest of the suit has changed multiple times depending on the comic book writer, animated show director or the movie. As seen in the Christopher Nolan film ‘Dark Knight’ and the Zack Snyder film ‘Batman v Superman.’
The Joker has remained similar throughout the years wearing his purple suit, purple bow tie and usually either a green or orange vest. In the comics and the animated TV shows, the amount of guns and bombs in his pockets are usually in bulk. But the most commonly used weapons are the electric buzzer, the acid spraying lapel flower on his coat pocket and the pistol. When it comes to skills, Bruce Wayne is a wizard in engineering, chemistry and known to be the greatest detective alongside Sherlock Holmes. Batman is a master of every martial art in the world but he mostly relies on his own technique called ‘Keysi’. In this technique he uses the environment around him as a weapon. But with all the fighting techniques available, the Batman has one rule ‘never to kill.’The Joker is good at hand-to-hand combat and mostly relies on his weapons. But the Joker is also very good with his speech and tends to confuse the combatant with sinister jokes. Apart from this, the joker indulges in a chaotic fighting style which is difficult to predict.
Both characters have vehicles designed to represent their symbols like the famous Batmobile, the Batplane and the Batcycle. The Joker has the Jokermobile and sometimes uses a hot air balloon.
Most notable clashes
The very first encounter between the two characters is a story that has been repeated only a few times throughout the animated series and comics. It was originally displayed in the 1988 DC comic ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’. This comic book provides the original story for supervillian Joker from the 1951 story ‘The Man behind the Red Hood.’ It narrates the tale of a family man cum failed comedian who has “one bad day” that drives him insane. He gets convinced by a couple of thugs to rob a factory that he had worked in, where he disguises himself as the Red Hood.Upon breaking in to the factory he accidently trips the alarm, causing the Batman to be alerted to the scene. The Batman and the Red Hood stand face to face on a bridge over huge containers containing unknown chemicals. He sees the Batman for the first time and the Red Hood tries to run away however he trips and falls in to a vat of chemicals. After being washed on to the shore through the waste canals, a mad laughter shrieks out and we witness a slow decent into madness.
Since then, there have been many other clashes as seen in the The Dark Knight, the animated film ‘Dark Knight Returns and Under the Red Hood. Among the favourites, animated film Batman : The Killing Joke ( 2016) is one of the best as it brings a fresh perspective to both the characters. The movie displays a very apt and an interesting script with back and forth conversations between Batman and Joker. The end of this film is absolutely memorable with Joker sharing a joke with Batman and then both the characters laugh hilariously. It’s probably the only time in comic book history that Batman has ever laughed at any of his arch rival’s joke!