For the longest time, I hated the character of the Joker. I couldn’t stand him. He seemed like one of the many Batman villains that was drug out from the cheesy golden era that for some reason seemed to stay. It was driving me crazy that it seemed every time there was a Batman story everyone was clambering for the Joker to make an appearance. I couldn’t it. At the end of Batman Begins when Gordon shows Batman the Joker playing card I was pissed. We already had Joker as a villain in two movies already. I felt it was time to move on to another of Batman’s exceptional rogue’s gallery.
Then I started listening to World’s Finest Podcast. That was when I slowly started to get it. Growing up, the only exposure I had to the Joker was through the Burton/Schumacher films and the Dini/Timm animated series. That was not the best of portrayals of the Joker.
While Burton did bring to the mainstream the darker Batman, he didn’t bring the psychology of Joker along with him. We still had the goofy Joker with pink lips. He was also the one who shot Bruce’s parents, which was the origin that I thought to be canon for the longest time. I was unaware of Joker’s better origin as The Red Hood. More importantly, I was unaware of Joe Chill, the man who killed Bruce’s parents and the one person that Batman would never be able to bring to justice.
So I watched the Burton film. I was young, and I fell enjoyed them. However, it wasn’t the films that hooked me into Batman. It was the animated series. The DCAU if you will.
Now with the exceptional story telling of the animated series, I still really hated whenever an episode would come up that had Joker in it. Those episodes always seemed to be just inane episodes with someone who was causing some mischief that was random happenings. BORING! I wanted my psychological in depth episodes. I was too enthralled with characters such as Two-face, The Mad Hatter, Mr. Freeze, Clayface, and even another golden-age villain, The Riddler.
For years afterwards I was confused. With the awesome assortment of Batman villains, why did everyone always seem to go to the Joker as Batman’s ultimate villain? One person told me it was because Batman could never kill him. I now see that person didn’t get Batman at all. It was all just baffling. Joker just caused random mischief, why was everyone so obsessed over this character?
Then I started listening to World’s Finest Podcast. I started to understand why I didn’t like Joker. Tim Burton did a horrible portrayal. He stuck too much to the 60’s classic feel of Joker as well as made him the murderer of Bruce’s parents. Then came the second clue. Dini/Timm seemed to only use Joker as a draw for episodes that were subpar. I wasn’t seeing Joker at his best.
So as I went thought the DCAU with Mike and James, I finally learned what I was missed from Joker. He wasn’t the character who just caused mischief. Someone who turned the river water blue for fun, but rather turned the river water blue to kill everyone because he thought it was funny. He was psychopath. His mind games would really mess someone up, such as Harley Quinn.
I meant to write this up and send it to you well before the show ended, but life got in the way. So here it is now, and thank you guys for such an awesome podcast!