The Joker
Jack Nicholson As The Joker

Full Name

Jack Napier


The Joker, Jack


To kill the Batman (Failed)


Gets his leg tangled to a gargoyle that gradually drops him to his death

Jack? Jack is dead, my friend. You can call me, Joker, and as you can see, I'm a lot happier.
~ The Joker's most famous quote just before killing Carl Grissom
Jack Napier, later known as The Joker, is the main antagonist of the 1989 superhero film Batman. He was portrayed by Jack Nicholson.



Napier was born in Brooklyn and came to live in Gotham. 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 fifteen, Jack was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon.  
Young Jack Napier

Young Jack Napier after killing Bruce Wayne's parents

Years later, as a young man, he and his partner in crime mugged Bruce Wayne's parents, Dr. Thomas Wayne and his wife, Martha. 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. Napier decided to spare the boy and left, saying, "See you around, kid." Little did he know that his prediction would come true -- that he and Bruce would meet again.



Jack Napier while working for crime boss Carl Grissom

Years later, Napier became the right-hand man of crime lord Carl Grissom, but when Carl found out that Napier was fooling with his girl, he called Lt. Eckhardt to kill his right-hand man, who (along with his men) was trying to erase the evidence in the Axis Chemical Factory.

Becoming the Joker

Eventually, Napier meets Batman for the first time. Before he was going to escape, he kills Eckhardt after he told him to think about the future. Napier then turned the gun on Batman and caught a ricocheted bullet through his cheeks; in a panic, Napier stepped off a catwalk over a vat of a toxic chemical. Though Batman caught Napier's arm and attempted to pull him back up to to safety, Napier's leather glove slipped through Batman's and he plummeted into the chemical vat below him. In The Joker, We TrustThe Joker while riding on his parade during the festival, gives away free money all of the people of Gotham City. Napier somehow survived and the reaction of the chemicals left him with chalk white skin, green hair and red lips. He tried to do reconstructive surgery, which severed critical facial nerves, leaving him with a wide, ridiculous and famous smile. He returned to Grissom's office to kill him, which he did and became the new crime lord known as the Joker. When he learned about Vicki Vale, the Joker fell in love with her and tried to steal her from Bruce Wayne.

The Joker begins his "parade" at the start of the Gotham City Festival that celebrating the city's 200th anniversary, bringing very hefty sums of cash to all Gotham's citizens. Along with his parade were his precious and cartoonish balloons filled with the deadly Smylex gas made from the ingredients used to create his cosmetic Smylex products. But after Batman stopped his maniacal festivities and saved everyone from the Joker's Smylex via his Batwing, he shot and killed his right-hand man Bob the Goon, and eventually went on to face the Batman while his men ordered everyone to leave money-littered, panic-stricken streets. The Joker used his peashooter and shot the Batwing down before took hostage Vicki Vale who was there alongside her fellow photojournalist Knots. Batman followed them into the old Gotham City Cathedral. While Batman battled his thugs, Joker dances with Vicki before the Dark Knight finally faces him. 


During their confrontation, Batman repeatedly beats up the Joker and manages to knock him off the balcony, but the Joker reached both his arms up, and managed to pull Batman and Vicki down, themselves holding on for life from a narrow ledge. The Joker's helicopter arrived to retrieve him to safety. Batman used a grappling hook to tie Joker's ankle to a large, heavy gargoyle. Batman sealed The Joker's fate when he broke it loose.  Unable to break free from the heavy burden of the gargoyle, The Joker lost his grip on the helicopter's rope ladder and fell to his death, hitting the cathedral's flight of steps below hard, breaking every single bone in his body. Ironically, just a few seconds beforehand, he said "Sometimes I just kill myself!" Commissioner Gordon came upon The Joker's body, hearing a repetitive laugh. He reached into The Joker's coat and pulled out a laugh box that had been activated by the landing. Bruce Wayne would continue to have bad memories of Jack Napier slaying his parents for several years.


  • Jack Nicholson's name is often listed in the credits before that of Michael Keaton (who plays Batman), except in the end credits. *The Joker is different than his animated counterpart; while Mark Hamill's Joker can survive long falls, Jack Nicholson's Joker obviously can't.
  • He looks similar to Cesar Romero's Joker from the Adam West Batman TV series, except his hair is more green than yellow and his suit is more purple.
  • He is the only main villain of the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher series that does not share the role of main villain with another. The villains of Batman Returns are The Penguin, Max Shreck, and Catwoman, the villains of Batman Forever are Two-Face and The Riddler, and the villains of Batman & Robin are Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy.
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