Your Burning Questions Answered About ‘Joker’

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Joker.

After nearly 80 years as comicdom’s scariest clown, the Joker finally gets his own feature film … and there isn’t a Dark Knight in sight. Todd Phillips’s new one-shot origin story, Joker, unfolds in a pre-Batman Gotham City and focuses on the grim misadventures of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a mentally unstable would-be entertainer who eventually becomes a version of the villain we know so well. Co-written by Phillips and Scott Silver, Joker exists outside of any previously established Batman cinematic continuity, be it Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan or Zack Snyder. At the same time, the movie also functions as an amalgam of all those previous iterations, as well as the character’s long comic history. Coming out of Joker, you’ll likely be wondering about how this movie relates to the larger Bat-lore, and Yahoo Entertainment has you covered. Read on for in-depth answers to all your burning Joker questions.

What’s the Joker’s real origin story?

There’s only one thing that’s consistant about the Joker’s past: Nothing. Ever since the Clown Prince of Crime claimed his first victims in Batman No. 1, published in 1940 — the same comic that published the Caped Crusader’s origin story for the first time — who he is and how he came to be has remained a story open to revision. “If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice,” Joker himself remarks in Alan Moore’s 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke, where the Watchmen author invented his own backstory for the character. In some versions, the Joker is a criminal who falls into a vat of chemicals; in others, he’s a failing stand-up comic who meets the same fate; and in still others he’s an ancient evil that’s been hanging around since caveman times. The cinematic Jokers also hail from wildly different backgrounds: Jack Nicholson took the plunge into a green chemical bath, Heath Ledger was chaos personified and Jared Leto… really liked tattoos.

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