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25th Sep 2019

The history of The Joker – the Laughing Fish

Wayne Farry

The Joker is one of the most famous villains in comic book history

For nearly 80 years, The Joker has been Batman’s greatest nemesis, twisted and sinister in equal measure in his trademark purple, green and orange three-piece suit.

But there was a point when he was treated more as a playful prankster than the terrifying homicidal maniac we know today – there is a striking tonal difference between The Joker of Cesar Romero and that of the late Heath Ledger.

For many years, the character was a light-hearted but not particularly dangerous villain – in line with the general theme of the Batman television series of the 1960s. But that changed, partly with Jack Nicholson and particularly with Christopher Nolan’s trio of films on the Dark Knight.

With Joaquin Phoenix now playing him in his own stand-alone movie, this is the story of how The Joker got his villainous groove back thanks to comic book writer Steve Engelhart, and one of the most important Batman stories of all time.