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DC Database

Quote1.png Tell me, kid, you ever dance with the Devil in the pale moonlight? Quote2.png
The Joker src

Jack Napier was a Gotham City gangster, the second-in-command of crime boss Carl Grissom. A terrible accident scarred him and drove him insane, turning him into the white faced maniac The Joker. He planned to use his knowledge of chemicals to transform the city into his sick "art", but he was stopped by the Batman.

Jack Napier was born in Brooklyn and came to live in Gotham City. In his school years, Jack proved himself to be emotionally unstable, but highly intelligent, showing aptitude in art, science, and chemistry. He also turned to a life of violent crime. When he was 15 years old, Jack was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon.

Years later, as a young man at the age of 26, he and his partner in crime mugged Bruce Wayne's parents, Dr. Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha, while they were walking home from the movies. When Thomas interceded to protect his family, Napier stepped from the shadows and shot both him and Martha in cold-blooded murder. Napier pulled the hammer back on his gun and next pointed it at Bruce. Napier inquired "Tell me, kid… you ever danced with the devil by the pale moon light?". Before Napier could fire, his panicked partner urged him to leave, saying "Let's go, Jack" (which caused Napier to turn to his partner with a puzzled look). Napier decided to spare the boy and left, saying "See you around, kid." Little did Jack know that his prediction would come true — that he and Bruce would meet again someday.

After discovering Napier was having an affair with his mistress, Grissom sent him to raid Axis Chemicals, where unknowingly to him a corrupt cop, Lt. Eckhardt, was sent to kill him. The plot was foiled by the arrival of police commissioner James Gordon, who wanted Napier taken alive, and Batman. Batman captured Napier, but released him when Bob the Goon held Gordon hostage at gunpoint. Batman vanished, and in the confusion, Napier shot and killed Eckhardt, then attempted to shoot a re-emerged Batman. The latter deflected his shot, sending the bullet into Jack's face, piercing both his cheeks. Napier fell over a railing into a vat of chemicals, presumably to his death.

Although Napier survived, the chemicals wrought a horrible toll: his hair was dyed green, his skin was bleached chalk white, and a botched attempt at reconstructive surgery severed critical facial nerves, leaving him with his now ruby-red lips spread in a permanent fiendish grin. While Napier was already erratic, the whole disfigurement incident left him completely insane. Calling himself "The Joker", he killed Grissom by playing target practice with him and usurped his criminal empire, killing one of his rivals with an electrified joy buzzer and striking down another with a sharp feather quill pen. His first scheme was to spread terror in the city by creating hygiene products that could kill by fatal hilarity when used together, known as "Smylex." Following the death of a news anchor live on-air, the city became paralyzed with fear.

Making war on several fronts, the Joker set a trap at the Flugelheim Museum for photographer Vicki Vale, with whom he had become smitten after Alicia had her face disfigured and then later killed herself. Batman intervened and saves Vicki, to whom he then gave the secret of the Joker's chemical combinations. In typical fashion, Batman then rendered Vicki unconscious, and she awoke inside her home. Angered, the Joker vowed to eliminate Batman for interfering with his plans.

Vicki's apartment was then the scene of a confrontation between the Joker, who has come to woo her, and Bruce Wayne, who has come to try and confess about his double-life. After Bruce challenged the Joker to a fight, the Joker pulled a gun and asked him, "Tell me something, friend. Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?" He then shot Wayne, apparently killing him. The Joker then left amid his own hoopla, and Vicki was shocked to see that Bruce had disappeared, leaving behind only a metal platter which he had used as an impromptu bulletproof vest.

Later, Bruce remembered that the night his parents, Dr. his and his wife Martha Wayne, were killed on their way home from a movie, one of the thugs responsible uttered the same quote used by Napier while holding Bruce at gunpoint, realizing that the Joker was indirectly responsible for the origin of Batman.

The Joker had put his own plans in motion to upstage the city's canceled 200th anniversary celebrations with a grand spectacle: a nighttime parade at which he would dispense $20 million in free cash. Vicki and Knox were there to cover the pandemonium, and they noticed strange tanks attached to the giant helium balloons. In the middle of his 'generosity' (the dollar bills dispensed by the Joker were phonies, which bore the Joker's own face), the Joker began gassing the crowd. Batman arrived in his Batwing and snatched the deadly balloons away to carry them out of the city. Furious, the Joker arbitrarily shot Bob the Goon, his number one thug. Batman returned to make a strafing run on the Joker, who responded by shooting down the jet. Vicki approached the downed craft but was captured by the Joker, who lead her to the top of Gotham Cathedral. Dazed but not finished, Batman pursued them. At the top of the cathedral, the two adversaries confronted each other in single combat.

In a moment of opportunity, the Joker pulled Batman and Vicki off the belfry, where they clung to the ledge for their lives. The Joker's helicopter appeared and he grabbed hold of a dangling rope ladder, about to escape. Batman used his Batarang to shoot a wire around the Joker's leg, connecting it to a stone gargoyle on the ledge. As the Joker was lifted away, the wire pulled the gargoyle loose and he lost his grip on the ladder, plummeting to his death. When police officers surrounded the Joker's body, they heard the sound of laughing which turned out to be a laughing sound box in his pocket which had become switched on either during or after the Joker's fatal fall.

The memory of the traumatic murder of his parents at the hands of Jack Napier would continue to haunt Bruce Wayne for years even after Jack Napier's death, eventually leading him to get psychiatric help from Dr. Chase Meridian.


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  • This version of the character is exclusive to the continuity of the Burtonverse film series and is an adaptation of the Joker. The original character was created by Jerry Robinson, Bob Kane, and Bill Finger and first appeared in Batman #1.
  • The Joker was portrayed by Jack Nicholson
  • In the flashback scene showing the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, young Jack Napier was portrayed by Hugo E. Blick.
  • In Batman Forever, a nightmare sequence is shown recounting the murder of the Waynes from Bruce's perspective with only one gunman. While the character is not explicitly names with event the credits listing him as "Shooter", the theory has been put forward that this must be Napier since both films are considered part of the same canon. The actor has been identified by some as David U. Hodges .[citation needed]
  • This version of the Joker was very well received, with Jack Nicholson being nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical/Comedy. It also ranked #45 in the American Film Institute's list of the top 50 film villains of all time.
  • To accept the role, Jack Nicholson traded his salary for a percentage of the box office gross. His estimated income was $50 million.
  • Jack was born on October 4, 1964.[1]

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Batman Villain(s)
This character, team or organization, is or was primarily an enemy of the Batman, or the Batman Family as a whole. This template will categorize articles that include it into the category "Batman Villains."