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Introduction

As a team, the contributors of this paper have analyzed the character of the Joker over ten different adaptations. The first appearance of the character of the Joker occurred in 1940 by creators Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson, and was published by DC Comics. The team decided not to analyze this version of the Joker, and instead to begin with the 1966 Batman TV show, where the Joker is portrayed as a zany character. From there the analysis goes through a timeline of different versions of the character ending with the 2019 movie Joker, where he is a mentally ill person and turned evil as a result of how people treated him. The first proposes that people are evil simply because they are born that way, while the second argues that villains are made by their surrounding environment. The paper will explore how the character can go from one extreme to the other over a period of time. In studying the Joker as a character and his various portrayals, we can see the effect that pressures such as audience and medium has had over time in first softening Joker into an eccentric trickster before later embracing the darkness within him with subsequent and more varied adaptations.

About the Authors

Nasiba Sabirova: I’m probably one of the biggest Joker enthusiasts. So much so that my group assigned me as the sole researcher of the Joker. I posted a lot of background information for my group and finalized our list of 10 adaptations including photos and videos attached to each. My group even allowed me to write The Dark Knight Joker piece because Heath Ledger’s performance is by far my favorite. I also wrote the Final Thoughts section.

“As you know, madness is like gravity … all it takes is a little push.”

-The Joker (Heath Ledger)

Amanda Perez: I love anything to do with superheroes and their number one villains! When my group chose Joker I was so excited to dive into the character. I wrote about the art Just One Bad Day, the Lego: Batman videogame, and Batman the movie made in 1989. I chose to write about these because they all show the Joker in much different ways, using many different mediums.

“Tell me something, my friend. Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

-The Joker (Jack Nicholson)

Grace Gurganious: Like many of my group members, I like superhero stories and am fascinated by the villains. My favorite adaptation of the Joker is Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. For this project I did the web design and development, and wrote the introduction. It was a fun challenge to make a website feel like the character of the Joker through fonts and colors.

“Their morals, their code; it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. You'll see- I'll show you. When the chips are down these, uh, civilized people? They'll eat each other. See I'm not a monster, I'm just ahead of the curve.”

-The Joker (Heath Ledger)

Mackenzie Hildt: Initially, I didn’t know much about the Joker, however after collaborating with my group members on this project I have come to find his character really interesting! I wrote about The Clown Prince of Crime comic, Batman: The Animated Series, and Joker from 2019. I really enjoyed going in-depth with his character and seeing how he’s changed over time.

“I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it’s a comedy”

-Joker (Joaquin Phoenix)

N Nguyen: Having an interest in studying how characters and stories get adapted over different mediums and time periods, I enjoyed the task of diving into a wilder set of iterations for our group’s focus character, the Joker. I tackled him in the forms of the 1966-1968 TV show Batman, HTT’s poem “The Joker,” and the Six Flags America roller coaster Joker’s Jinx. I additionally wrote the thesis as well as the summary paragraphs.

“My favorite kind of joke... one that ends with a bang.”

-The Joker (Cesar Romero)