Normally in almost every movie, the villain has a backstory which is either shown or narrated in the movie. But regarding the Joker from Batman films, this brings up the question, what is his back story?

Till date, I haven't seen any reference or indication of his real name and backstory in any of the Batman films. Have any of the films ever adressed this or is there maybe only some in the comics that I'm unaware of?

  • 1
    You should refer to the accepted answer given in the question about the origins of his scars. Here is the link: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/1428/…
    – Ashan
    Nov 25, 2016 at 4:59
  • 2
    Which joker version are you talking about? Anyway joker origion is shown many times in films: Batman (1989) , Batman: The Killing Joke. So better go bit clear
    – Ankit Sharma
    Nov 25, 2016 at 5:31
  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because not a movie question.
    – cde
    Nov 25, 2016 at 5:39
  • 1
    @cde Sorry to say but i disagree with you.. Yes, it isn't a movie question, but Joker is a part of the 'movie universe' and I believe a question on him is quite right.
    – HardikT
    Nov 25, 2016 at 9:15
  • 1
    I reopened the question, since it got heavily reworded and streamlined into on-topicness after it already had 4 close-votes. So the last close-vote was probably just a group-artifact, since after the rewording I can't see how this is off-topic at all.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 25, 2016 at 12:57

2 Answers 2


The problem is, that the Joker has been depicted in various different films that are set in various different and entirely unrelated universes. You have the 60s Adam West films and TV-show, the Tim Burton films from the 90s, the Nolan films from the 2000s, and the new films from the DCEU. Add to this his various depictions in animated films and TV-shows, some of which are adapting specific individual comics and some share their continuity with a broader set of DC films and TV-shows. So even if one of those films shows a real name or background for the Joker, this doesn't necessarily transport over to any of the other movies.

First of all, KutuluMike's answer is correct in that his background and origin are largely kept a mystery and this is by design, in order to give the Joker somewhat of a mysterious and uncontrollable nature. This is for example heavily employed and emphasised in the Nolan films, specifically The Dark Knight, his various different stories about his scars being one aspect of this.

Other films delve a little deeper into his origins, often depicting him as falling into some chemical that disfigures him and causes his typical green hair and white skin, which is akin to many of his depictions in the comics. Yet they still eschew from providing a more detailed backstory or even real name for him. The DCEU's Suicide Squad seems very much along this line, as well as the animated film Batman: The Killing Joke, which adapts the Alan Moore comic of the same name and even shows him as being a failed comedian unable to provide for his family before the transformation (however, the actual truth of this origin story is called into question in the very story itself).

A very notable film in this regard is, however, Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film. This film does indeed provide a backstory and a name for the Joker. It shows him as Jack Napier, a mob killer working for Carl Grissom, who falls into a vat of chemicals in a raid led by Batman, thus making Batman actually his literal creator (and thus further substantiating the quite common notion of Batman being the conceptual creator of the villains he faces). But even more than that, it actually turns out during the movie that Jack Napier was the killer of Bruce Wayne's parents (and thus in turn created the Batman). However, as already mentioned, this origin story and background of the Joker is entirely non-canonical to any other Batman films and him being the murderer of Bruce's parents is entirely original to this specific film.

  • You should also point out that Burton's Joker had his face injured accidentally by Batman, severing the nerves, causing a very bad surgeon to fix his face in a permanent smile. Nov 25, 2016 at 14:05

In general, the identity and backstory of the Joker is deliberately left unclear; his origin has been shown a few times in the comics, but they're all contradictory. Even in some of the movies, the Joker has reported contradicting origin stories for himself.

There are a few things that are generally consistent across most iterations of the Joker. At some point in his past, he fell into a vat of chemicals, which gave him the bleached white skin, and the permanent grin. This is seen, for example, in the 1989 Batman as well as Suicide Squad. In the comics, he also typically starts out as a criminal called "the Red Hood", though as far as I know that's never been shown in any of the movies.

  • They did show it in... Batman: The Red Hood.
    – cde
    Nov 25, 2016 at 17:18

You must log in to answer this question.

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