How Tim Burton’s Batman Subtly Explained Joker’s Confusing Origin

Going back to Tim Burton’s iconic 1989 film, Batman, where The Joker has brand new outfits for both, himself and his enforcers, alongside an arsenal of deadly weapons – all within a day – the film also explains how this is possible, but in a subtle way. Batman is among the few adaptations of the classic DC mythos to give Batman’s nemesis, The Joker, a full origin story, showing him as the brilliant mobster Jack Napier, who was at the time, second-in-command of the crime syndicate that was run by Carl Grissom. Napier’s true transformation took place after his encounter with Batman, but dialogue hints that he’d been on the way to becoming The Joker beforehand.

Jack Nicholson's audition for Joker
Jack Nicholson’s audition for Joker was one of his worst auditions

Burton’s Batman was inspired by 1988’s Batman: The Killing Joke and The Joker’s Silver Age Detective Comics and it depicted the Joker’s classic origin while adding a few new additions. It saw Jack Napier wounded by a bullet to his face and later, had his skin bleached, with his hair dyed green after he took a fall into a vat of chemicals while fighting the Dark Knight. Napiers was driven insane by his new appearance and he renamed himself Joker usurping Grissom and becoming Gotham’s most powerful mobster boss.

Who Was The Joker In Tim Burton’s Batman?

Jack Nicholson as Joker
Jack Nicholson played the role of Joker

Now, seemingly within a day, Napier, who is now The Joker, uses a whole arsenal of lethal weaponry, with the first weapon being a joy buzzer that goes on to electrocute victims before they’re nothing but burnt corpses. Before his disfigurement took place, Jack Napier is somewhat described by a corrupt cop named Max Eckhardt as an “A-1 nut boy” and Bruce Wayne’s dossier describes him as an unstable genius. All this evidence hints that Napier was probably developing many weapons before he even became the clown prince of crime.

If we consider his reputation, vocation and aptitude, Napier may have been working hard on his seemingly-harmless weapons even before his transformation happened. Weapons like the razer sharp quill pen and joy buzzer might have been quite useful for a mobster like Napier, who could possibly approach his enemies unarmed before killing them unexpectedly. The Joker even has a signature weapon – Smylex gas – which was revealed in Burton’s Batman to be a very dangerous nerve agent that was initially developed by the CIA but was discontinued years prior. Napier may have been trying to get his hands on this weapon even before he turned into The Joker.

The Joker was likely working on his weapons before his disfigurement

Batman and Joker
Tim Burton’s Batman showing Dark Knight and Joker

The Joker also looks like he has gotten some theatrical new suits for himself and some Joker-themed uniforms for his enforcement within a few hours. Keeping in mind his vanity before his disfigurement took place, it makes a lot of sense that The Joker would also want his criminal underlings to match his aesthetic. As Napier reinvented himself after the disfigurement, these mobsters who once worked under Carl Grissom also got themselves a new look.

While the resources that The Joker had weren’t as vast as Batman’s but his genius did allow him to have a deadly arsenal of weapons by the time his crime spree started. The Joker is already confirmed to be a genius with violent tendencies, so he was always just one major event away from snapping. So, we can certainly conclude by saying that The Joker was likely working on his lethal weapons even before his disfigurement, as hinted in Tim Burton’s Batman film.

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