Batman: The Animated Series (1992)
Credit: Warner Bros. Animation
The animated series retains the darker tone of the Joker from the comics. He has the many traits of a notorious villain: menacing, merciless, destructive, and someone who commits violence simply because he loves the idea of it. The show however portrays the Joker in a more kid friendly way and provides a realistic interpretation of a sociopath. Although he is a manipulative criminal, he is loved by many because of his charming and seductive ways. The show also was the first to introduce the character of Harley Quinn, and although the Joker treats her rather poorly, it is the first time he is shown caring somewhat for someone else. He is also given an exaggerated appearance with a sharp chin, hooked nose, and green hair.
The cartoon depicts the Joker as the famous criminal everyone read about in the comics, and at the same time makes his overall character more child friendly. This is fitting for society and the show’s intended audience because it allows for the cartoon and the character to be enjoyed by the entire family. It also softens Joker’s character and makes him less intimidating, ultimately making him more appealing to audiences of all ages. As Linda Hutcheon mentions in A Theory of Adaptation, performing and showing modes “teaches us that language is not the only way to express meaning or to relate stories. Visual and gestural representation are rich in complex associations…” (23). The animated series stays true to this statement because it brings the aura and mannerisms of Joker to life in a way that an audience would not be able to obtain by reading a comic page. Overall, the show’s choice to make Joker more appropriate shows how as time goes on, we wish to depict villains in a way that appeals to and reaches a variety of audiences.
“Joker.” Batman, batmantheanimatedseries.fandom.com/wiki/Joker.
Hutcheon, Linda, and Siobhan O'Flynn. A Theory of Adaptation. 2nd ed., Routledge, 2012, pp. 23.