Which writer’s work was the “Dark Knight” movie’s utterly anarchic, chaos loving Joker mainly based on? I’ve read a lot of Jokers but I have never seen one utterly disdain money the way Ledger’s Joker did. The Joker’s I’ve read may have been nut’s, but they always have one eye firmly on the loot.
There are many of the later writers of the Joker who didn’t really care for money. Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke for instance, has him spend a great deal of money solely to prove a point to Batman. I’m pretty sure that the Joker in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns also is primarily interested in murder and mayhem.
Most takes on the Joker I’ve seen have had him more concerned with the ‘joke’, than the loot - in fact, loot is rarely his goal, at all - I can only think of one great Joker story that has him concerned with material gain, that being The Laughing Fish (specifically the animated version, I haven’t read the original comic) - the other stories where he really shines, he’s trying to get his demented jollies, make a point, or just hurt the Bat - if he can make some cash from it, all the better, but that’s secondary, at best.
Terrifying people, killing them, driving them insane, or just confusing the everloving fuck out of them, that’s what the Joker’s concerned with, in my experience - even when he’s pulling an extortion game, he’s more concerned with the game than the extortion.
Well, the idea that the Joker lies about his background comes from his original appearance. The Joker is asked about his past and says if he has to have one, he prefers it to be multiple choice.
The Joker in Dark Knight seems to agree, changing his past story to fit the moment.
I’m pretty sure that’s from Moore’s The Killing Joke.
Sure as heck ain’t in Batman #1.
I think I’ve read the “multiple choice” quote came after “The Killing Joke,” presumably so that particular version of events didn’t have to be taken as 100% gospel. Though the Riddler ended up confirming parts of it anyway.
ETA: Nope, it IS in “The Killing Joke,” though probably still for the same reason.
You’re almost certainly correct. The “multiple choice” quote does come from “The Killing Joke”, and (I’m speculating now), was probably Moore’s attempt to avoid a definitive origin for The Joker. He incorporated the Red Hood origin from the 1950’s but, most likely, was more interested in exploring the relationship between The Joker and Batman. IMHO, The Joker works better as a force of nature, an embodiment of the violence and chaos that robbed Bruce Wayne of his childhood, rather than a specific character with a unique history. (I’m aware that specific elements of Moore’s story have been incorporated into later comics, but I’d be willing to bet this will be either be glossed over or ignored entirely in the future. It doesn’t work in the long run.)
FWIW, The Joker is one of my favorite villains of all time and I’ve read many treatments of the character from the his initial appearances as a killer and a buffoonish clown in the 40’s and 50’s to his reinvention in the '70’s as a master criminal and psychotic madman.
To me, Ledger’s Joker isn’t based on a specific interpretation, but is a distillation of many of the elements that have been explored in the last 30 or so years. The psychosis, the chaos… the need to challenge society’s mores. There’s probably some of Ledger’s own reading of the character as well, the details of which we’ll never know of course.
I hope everyone will forgive for quoting my own post, but I feel the need to elaborate a bit on further reflection.
In “The Dark Knight”, during his second appearance at the “mob council”, he insists the he’s “not crazy” (He says it twice). It’s a line delivered with softness and subtlety and is easily dismissed, but I think it goes to the heart of Ledger’s interpretation and reminds me of a line in “Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth” by Grant Morrison. (It’s been years since I read it, it’s buried in a box somewhere, so bear with me) In that GN one of the psychologists makes the observation that The Joker creates his own reality each time he wakes every morning. Sometimes he sees himself as a psychotic killer, other times as a campy criminal. If we see ourselves in a mirror when we awaken then The Joker sees himself in a pane of glass that’s been shattered into a million pieces. I believe that in the GN it’s referred to as “Supersanity”, or something to that effect.
The Joker doesn’t see himself as insane, or perhaps he does but simply embraces it as a label that an insane world places on him. He’s attempting to turn that mirror back on itself, to convince the world that his version of ‘sanity’, makes more sense. (Reminiscent, perhaps, of his conversation with Dent in the hospital.)
To bring this back the OP. money simply has no inherent worth, it’s a means to an end, nothing more. I hope I haven’t went off on “tangent” here.
I would say that a great deal of “Dark Knight”'s joker doesn’t come so much from the comic books as a grittier turn of Jack Nicholson’s Joker, itself a darker take on Cesar Romero.
But I would credit the idea of The Joker being an agent of chaos and mayhem as opposed to a funny-looking crook with a clown motif to the great Dennis O’neil.
By the way, a very similar joker to Heath Ledger’s can be found in the 90’s animated series “The Batman”, but I couldn’t say that there’s a direct influence.
I’m of the opinion that the closest one is the Morrison/McKeon Joker from Arkham Asylum: ASHOASE. The explanation of the origin of the ‘grin’ seemed to fit very nicely with the ‘choose-your-own-reality’ sensitivities of that Joker.
The Killing Joke predates A Serious House by 3 years, and his constantly shifting stories about the origin of his Chelsea grin is a perfect example of the ‘if I must have an origin’ conversation from KJ. (And his whole deal with Dent is also a direct reference to KJ, though the target is switched from Gordon to Dent.)
The closest I’ve seen is Frank Miller’s from The Dark Knight Returns, but I think Ledger’s Joker is original.
I’d chalk it up with the Killing Joke’s Joker and a bit of Frank Miller’s thrown in. But def. more killing joke.
Even the plot was sorta similar in that the Joker was out to prove that anyone could go corrupt if they’ve had one bad enough day. It was just done to Dent more so than Gordon in the film.