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The Joker is an iconic character who has ultimately been melded by not only the worlds he lives in with each adaptation but also even our world. From his origins as a homicidal maniac to a brighter, zanier trickster as required of the Comic Code to then exploring him as a product of a society that has mistreated him, the Joker showcases a flexibility in what kind of character he is from adaptation to adaptation.

The Joker can fulfill many needs as befits many different stories, owing to the countless instances he's been depicted again and again. He is versatile, present through comics, movies, television, video games, poetry, paintings, and even theme park rides. When one has popped up in so many incarnations across so many mediums, it is natural that his character shall be transformed not only by the different mediums he traverses but also by the societal changes in both content creators and various audiences over time.

For a character to be loved for so long, he must change just how you and me and humanity evolves through the decades. His ability to change from adaptation to adaptation to reflect evolving cultural values and interests is, in truth, what allows the Joker to keep on living as a popular icon.

Final Thoughts

With the successes and failures of each Joker adaptation there are some clear dos and don’ts that are universally applicable to other adaptations out there. One recommendation that I’d make to artists who would be creating in the future is to be certain in the direction they want their adaptation to take. If an artist is considering taking a novel or comic book and reintroducing that story through film then they should have a clear understanding of the story that they want to tell. Sometimes it is best to keep some fidelity to the original; other times it is best to reinvent the story for the big screens. In order to know what direction to take an artist should research deeply into the original, its creator, the fanbase, and other background information. Once that foundation is established then the artist can decide where to go from there.

Although it is important to pay tribute to or honor original works, I think it is equally as important to approach adaptations as their own individual forms of expression. We should definitely take them just as seriously because they can shed a new light and perspective on original works that no one may have thought of before. By continuing to study both the impact of adaptations on society and their effects on audience members, content creators are able to use past adaptations to know what would be successful in the future. Society as a result would gain multiple modes of entertainment that falls under any and every category.