Tim Burton's version of Batman has Jack Napier as the shooter of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Jack Napier, of course becomes The Joker years later after an accident at Axis Chemicals (in the 1989 Tim Burton adaptation).

Joe Chill is revealed in Batman #47 (June-July 1948) as the mugger who murdered the Waynes.

Batman's origin story was first established in a sequence of panels in Detective Comics #33 (November 1939) and later reproduced in the publication Batman #1 (Spring 1940). The mugger, however, was not given a name until Batman #47 (June-July 1948). In that issue, Batman discovers that Joe Chill, the small-time crime boss he is investigating, is none other than the man who killed his parents.

I understand that filmmakers want to have their own creative stamp on their work, but, this is a major event in the Batman/Bruce Wayne story that completely strays from the original story line of the comics.

Is there a reason that filmmakers chose to portray Jack Napier as the shooter instead of Joe Chill? Is there any evidence on who actually created the idea of Jack Napier being the shooter and then later becoming The Joker?

  • 2
    Like Tim Burton cared about continuity with the comics. I think you've answered your own question there.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 19:25
  • 5
    Sometimes it is Joe Chill, sometimes it is someone else, sometimes they never find the murderer of his parents. I guess for the film, they decided it would be interesting if the Joker was the person who created the Batman. it made circular logic of "you created me, I created you" at the end of the film. Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 19:27
  • 1
    @Paulie_D Yeah, I am just not familiar with the continuity of the comics, that's why I asked the question ;) Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 19:29
  • 3
    @JackBNimble Surprisingly enough, I just learned that the Jack Napier angle was just used in Burton's version. I always thought that it was Jack Napier because of that movie and because I am just not familiar with the comics. Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 19:30

2 Answers 2


Tim Burton chose to use Jack Napier as the killer, because it creates more of a bond between Batman and his nemesis. This was based on the 1988 graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke in which Batman and Joker are seen as mirror images of each other. In fact, the origin of the Joker as a victim of a fall into a vat of chemical waste in Burton's version was taken directly from The Killing Joke.

It's also interesting to note that an early draft of Burton's version included the Wayne's going to an opera to see Die Fledermaus and then heading to a masquerade ball. Of course, the Nolan versions eventually used that as the origin story, although in Burton's original screenplay the Wayne's were killed while walking home from the ball, while in Nolan's version they were killed just after leaving the opera.

Partial source: Tim Burton Encyclopedia, Page 23

  • 2
    I fail to see what the second paragraph actually adds to the answer at all.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 11:03
  • 2
    The question was about the differences filmmakers inject into the story. Specifically, the Wayne's murderer. I answered the question, and pointed out another difference about the origin story and how it almost wasn't a difference. Think of it as "Extra Credit" for the curious. Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 15:12

Based on what I found here in the Batman wiki, Tim Burton chose a different origin story for the Joker (Jack Napier) and in the process made him a direct link to Batman.

The animated series also uses Jack Napier as a character but not in the same way (unless I'm mistaken). He doesn't appear to be the one that killed Bruce's parents. Animated Batman Wiki

  • I read somewhere that batman's creator Bob Kane said if he thought that far ahead, he would've written Joker as the Waynes' murderer Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 21:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .