Our apologies to the rest of Batman’s vaunted rogues gallery, but there is no comic book villain in history as iconic or notorious as the Joker. Not only has the Joker terrorized both Batman and Gotham for decades, but he’s captivated and mesmerized fans throughout his entire seven decade history. There are plenty of things that make the Joker stand out as DC fans’ favorite villain, from his creepy clown-like appearance to his elaborate schemes — and most of all, his absolutely ruthless insanity. But perhaps what draws audiences to the Joker more than anything is the mystery surrounding him. For someone so heavily featured in comic books, movies and TV shows, we still don’t know a lot about the Joker – his identity, how he can pull off his plans, and how he got those legendary scars (in the Nolan-verse anyway) all remain clouded behind the fog of the Joker’s own sanity.
But with all this mystery of course come the fan theories, and not just any fan theories either. Many of the Joker fan theories are almost as crazy as the Clown Prince of Crime himself. This year has seen fan theories reach new heights, as fans eagerly analyze the latest incarnation of the legendary villain, played by Jared Leto in the highly anticipated (and thus far, highly polarizing) Suicide Squad. It really speaks volumes that in a movie full of villains, the Joker is still the one that fans are talking about the most. But enough clowning around, let’s get serious and explore the 15 Craziest Fan Theories About The Joker.
15. The Joker is Jason Todd (Robin)
Steady yourself, this fan theory is bit of a wild card. The Joker’s identity has long been a cause of speculation among fans, and with a new incarnation of the Joker comes a new series of guesses. Jared Leto’s take was no different, and fans were quick to point to evidence that could suggest that this Joker is none other than Jason Todd himself.
Jason Todd was the second Robin, a sidekick to Batman that served as a replacement for Dick Grayson until — wait for it — he was killed by the Joker. Okay, so there’s already that small problem in the theory. Not only is he supposedly dead, but he was killed by the very person that fans suspect he is. He did come back to life though, and does in fact have a history of taking the Joker’s identities. And so, with a heavy dose of tweaking to the source material, this theory could have been possible. And it would certainly create an interesting new take on the Clown Prince of Crime to see a former sidekick of Batman driven to such a level of insanity.
The evidence was spotted in the trailers by fans who noticed tattoos of a J (Joker or Jason?) and a bird feather (Robin?). This Joker also seemed to have injuries (read: bullet wounds) that matched damage done to the defaced Robin costume we glimpsed in Batman v Superman. Thankfully, this theory was shot to hell when the director of Suicide Squad shut it down himself by flat out saying that Jared Leto’s Joker is not Jason Todd.
14. He has ‘super sanity’ which has driven him insane
Perhaps the biggest mystery in the DC Universe is the Joker’s true back story, which in all the comics and films has never explicitly emerged. The biggest question about his back story is undoubtedly how he became the Joker, and one theory suggests he has a super power that led him to his breaking point, and that the alleged super power is ‘super sanity’. The term super sanity even comes from the comics themselves, as it’s used in Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth to describe the villain.
This potential power could mean he has the ability to see all things as they truly are, an insight that led him to go mad, and there is actually some evidence to support this theory. One piece is that he seems to be aware that he is a comic book character (more on that later), having addressed the audience directly in comics in the past. This could potentially mean he understands he is just a villain in a comic book and this either drove him more insane or spurred him on to fulfill his destiny. It could also explain his obsession with Batman: he understands that the comic centers around Batman, and thus his existence depends on him. Maybe this is why he usually seems more focused on toying with him then actually killing him.
13. He has perfect luck
In some card games, pulling a Joker is a sign of bad luck. Undoubtedly, coming across the Joker in Gotham means you’re about to face some bad luck. But as far as luck goes, it seems to favor the Clown Prince of Crime a lot, considering how his intricate schemes always go according to plan. When you think about how many layers there are to his plans, how many steps always go faultlessly right, how his timing always works out, this theory starts to make a lot of sense. Sure, the second Batman gets involved is usually where the Joker fails, but even then, how many times has he not gotten killed by Batman? How many times have the police not truly stopped him?
You could even argue that since he doesn’t necessarily want to completely beat Batman, but that he wants to continue playing their game, any interference from Batman isn’t strictly bad luck — it’s all part of the plan. It could suggest that the Joker does have a form of supernatural power after all; that is, the power of luck. It is also debatable whether or not he’s aware of his alleged perfect luck, and if he makes his plans with the full knowledge that things will work themselves out regardless of how intricately he plans things out.
12. The Joker is Batman’s brother
Fans are constantly trying to tie the Batman and the Joker together with theories about their pasts, and this one goes as far as to tie them by blood. This theory suggests that the Joker’s true identity is that of Batman’s brother. While there are varying strains of this theory, one interesting facet in particular focuses on The Dark Knight.
It claims that an ongoing theme in the film is family and that the only two characters without family are Batman and his arch nemesis, the Joker. While this may not seem like much, it’s hinted that the Joker suggests at points that he was abandoned by his father and that he is drawn to Batman and their back and forth game. This may not be enough evidence to hinge a theory on, but it seems the comic books have dropped a few hints over the years as well. Multiple villains aware of Batman’s identity have claimed to be relatives of his, and fans have suggested that the Joker has planted these fake relatives to play with Bruce’s mind. Through careful analysis, some have concluded that the Joker is really Batman’s brother, Thomas Jr. There’s nothing quite like brotherly love!
11. He is able to infect bodies with his consciousness
This theory suggests that a normal person became the Joker, not because they went through something traumatic, but because they became infected by the villain’s sick mind. And since the origins of the Joker characters are rarely pinned down, this could be because they don’t really have an origin at all and were in fact infected, or because all of their origins contrast as different individuals who were infected.
Some have suggested this theory was strongly pointed at in Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker, as the Joker’s consciousness was put onto a microchip and implanted into the head of Tim Drake. This obviously displays the possibility of the Joker’s mind jumping from one host to another, so it could possibly be an ongoing cycle. Further evidence still lies in the latest Rocksteady Batman video game, Arkham Knight, where Joker blood poisoned a few of Gotham’s citizens/
If this theory is true, would it be possible for him to possess multiple bodies at a time? Just imagine the possibility of a literal army of Jokers. It would definitely raise the stakes and put Batman and Gotham City in a very tricky situation.
10. The Joker knows he is in a movie
It is sometimes strongly hinted at in the comics that the Joker is self aware of his comic book villain status, but some fans have extended this theory to the big screen. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker was dark and mysterious and a fan favorite to analyze, and after carefully watching The Dark Knight, some fans have suggested that the his character is aware of the fact that he’s in a movie.
One of the biggest clues lies in his famous scar stories. Throughout the movie, the Joker repeatedly trots out various characters with a story of how he got his scars that resemble an ear to ear smile (we actually get two of these different stories throughout the film, and we might have gotten a third if Batman didn’t interrupt him like a jerk). Since he is telling the stories to different people each time, it has been questioned as to why he’s changing it even if it is a lie. He could just as easily tell the same lie to multiple people with the same effect, as none of them are aware of the other stories he has told.
Well, this theory suggests that he’s telling all these lies for the sake of the audience, as if to demonstrate how twisted he is and that he is deliberately playing with the other characters. Furthermore, this adaptation of the Joker laughs a lot less than others, which could suggest his humor is for the audience and not himself. If this is in fact true, then the next logical question is whether Jared Leto’s take on the character will help to further this theory (or possibly disprove it entirely). The only way to answer that is to look out for any clues of a self aware Joker by rewatching Suicide Squad!
9. He has a supernatural sense of timing
One thing that Batman and the Joker have in common is that despite being two of the most iconic comic book characters of all time, neither of them actually have superpowers. However, many keen fans have carefully analyzed the Joker and noted that this may not actually be the case. Some have even suggested that the Joker has the superpower of always having impeccable timing. This may not sound true, or even all that impressive, at first, but when you think it over it’s actually very plausible — and a great power to have.
As we’ve mentioned, the Joker is notorious for his extravagant and complicated plans to cause chaos, but it takes a lot to consistently pull off those plans without anything going wrong. While perfect luck could serve a major role in that, perfect timing would be necessary as well. These two theories go hand in hand, and they’re certainly worth consideration.
8. He is linked to The Shining
Here is one fan theory people certainly didn’t see coming. This one posits a link between Heath Ledger’s Joker and the horror classic The Shining. The theory has spread across the internet through a meme which uses the Joker’s dialogue to narrate a scene from the Stanley Kubrick-helmed film.
Heath Ledger’s Joker became notorious for his use of multiple stories concerning the acquisition of his scars, but one of them he seems to have borrowed from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. He describes his father to be a drinker who went crazy one night, forcing his mother to defend herself with a knife. Sound familiar yet? The whole story seems to replicate parts of The Shining, leading fans to suggest two possibilities. One is that The Joker is really the kid – Danny – from The Shining, however unlikely that may be. The more likely one is that The Joker, who is prone to fabricating stories of his past, used the famously creepy film as his inspiration for this particular anecdote. Maybe it was even dropped in as a nod to the former Joker Jack Nicholson, who famously played Jack Torrence in The Shining.
7. He is immortal
Traditionally, in stories when the hero saves the day, the villain is killed off. However, the Joker seems to have defied this curse, having lived through extraordinary circumstances time and again. Even in the famous The Killing Joke comic, some have argued he wasn’t definitely killed. This begs the question, why is it so hard to get rid of the Joker? It could well be possible that he is — or at least some versions of him are — immortal. This would mean he does have a power after all, and it would add a new edge to his villain status.
This theory is seemingly canon with one version of the Joker. In the comic book series Endgame, it was suggested that he came in contact with a meteorite that fell to Earth, which granted him immortality. This implies that at least one of the Jokers out there is immortal. If one version of the Joker is definitely immortal, what’s to say that most of them aren’t?
6. The Joker didn’t actually kill Batman’s parents
The 1989 film Batman brought a twist to the backstory of both the Joker and Batman and tied their pasts together. It revealed Batman recognizing the Joker as none other than the killer of his parents, and thus the key part in the puzzle pf his tragic childhood. Not only did this make Batman resent the Joker even more (thusly raising the stakes of their battles), but it allowed the Joker’s reputation as the Batman’s arch enemy to be further justified.
However, some fans weren’t quite buying this plot twist and offered an alternative explanation. There’s no doubt being Batman is a tough job, and given his constant role in battles and repeatedly facing evil villains his mental health is no doubt going to be somewhat affected. Fans have suggested that because of this, Batman falsely projected the Joker into his traumatic childhood memory in order to justify his hatred against him and allow him to feel he was dealing with his past issues directly. And while most have dismissed it as an unlikelihood (given that the Joker is usually not presented as his parents killer in other Batman stories), it’s one theory that is certainly plausible.
5. He was originally a war veteran
There has been enormous speculation about the origins of the Joker, and in particular Heath Ledger’s legendary adaptation. One of the popular theories about him is that he’s an ex soldier suffering from an extreme case of PTSD. It is certainly a fairly rational explanation given the circumstances, albeit a fairly simplistic one.
However, there is a lot that could be made sense of if the theory was ever confirmed as true. Firstly, it would explain how he was able to perform an intricate military ritual in his disguise in the scene where he and his men attempt to assassinate the mayor. It would also explain his fighting ability and possibly even his skilled strategizing. His ability to cope with interrogation could even suggest he was a prisoner of war at one point.
Similar theories have also pointed to him being a spy or special ops agents for similar reasons, such as his abilities pertaining to psychological manipulation. It all points to some kind of military or secret service past. Just don’t expect the overly secretive Christopher Nolan to answer any of these questions any time soon.
4. The Joker was the hero in The Dark Knight
This theory suggests that our Dark Knight in shining armor is far from that, and that the real hero of the movie The Dark Knight is the person we would least suspect – the Joker himself.
Well, before the Joker came along, Gotham wasn’t doing too great. Uncontrollable organized crime, corrupt city officials, and whole areas of the city being closed off (read: the Narrows) helped contribute to a city on the brink of collapse. Gotham even tolerated an unidentified vigilante in a black mask just to help them. Things soon changed when the Joker came along, however. The majority of the organized crime was eliminated, and many of the corrupt officials became imprisoned or dead. For proof of this, look no further than the bank heist where he lures the mob’s money peddler, Lau. out of hiding and goes on to get rid of him too. The Joker’s actions eventually lead to Gordon’s promotion, which puts one of the least corruptible officers in a position of power — he even applauds this himself (although most will argue that this was done sarcastically).
So if the Joker had sorted the corrupt officials and the organized crime, then what was the big problem that was left? The vigilantes. Batman was inspiring a series of other vigilantes who were ill equipped to serve justice, and it was creating anarchy. So, the Joker works to stop Batman, all without killing him to avoid the risk of him becoming a martyr or a bigger hero in Gotham. And although it never worked out, all in all, it definitely makes for an interesting spin on the film. But we wouldn’t be so serious about it.
3. The Joker consumes its actors
This theory is probably one of the creepiest, as it leaks the Joker’s chaos out of its comic book and movie origins and into real life. The theory has been building for some time, but has been strengthened recently with a lot of the stories told about Jared Leto’s very extreme use of — ahem — “method acting”.
Leto has made headlines with stories about him staying in character throughout the filming of Suicide Squad to the point of creepiness. Not only did he send some very — let’s say ‘personal’ — gifts to his cast mates in the form of used condoms and dead animals, but fellow Suicide Squad actor Will Smith said he’s never actually met Jared Leto. He claimed that Leto’s refusal to drop character meant he had only ever met the Joker and not the actor himself.
Some, however, have claimed that the folks behind DC’s live-action films have been playing up the narrative of the Joker character consuming its actors to create press and buzz surrounding the film. But considering the issues that the last Joker, Heath Ledger, reportedly dealt with after portraying the character (many had claimed that the role had taken a toll on him in his later days), this might not be quite so far-fetched as other fan theories. Additionally, Ledger’s predecessor (Jack Nicholson) had also hinted that the role is a dangerous one to take on, and he even apparently spoke to Ledger before filming began to warn him not to get too into it.
2. The Joker and Harley Quinn have kids
Many fans were excited at the prospect of having the Joker and Harley Quinn together on the big screen in Suicide Squad. This dysfunctional pairing has become a cult favorite in the DC Universe, and their sadistic relationship was one of the reasons that anticipation for Suicide Squad among the obsessed DC faithful was off the charts. So perhaps to these same obsessed DC fans the only thing that could perhaps make the Joker and Harley Quinn’s toxic relationship seem any more disturbing if is there were children in the mix; and that’s exactly where speculation has led.
Currently a heavy topic of discussion among those who have seen Suicide Squad, observant fans have noticed a possible Easter egg hiding within the film. Warning, possible spoilers ahead! The clue comes in the form of two babies outfits laid out in a circle of weapons surrounding the Joker, and fans were quick to figure out what this could possibly mean.
Firstly of course, it could mean that the deadly duo have children. Other than these children being undoubtedly messed up by their parents, another topic of discussion is their whereabouts. Where exactly are these two pint-sized killer clowns? We imagine we’ll get the answers in the presumed sequel.
It’s definitely not safe to assume that their theoretical children are alive, either. Their deaths could be used an addition to their already dark history, making us either pity or loathe the villains (depending on how their childrens’ deaths played out) even mroe than before. One likely possibility is that they are planning to have children in the future. And while they may not be reading up on parenting tips anytime soon, the baby clothes are fairly suggestive. Harley Quinn literally envisions a future in which they have children together at one point in the final act…perhaps it’s a subtle hint of what we can expect to come next?
1. He’s the Fight Club narrator
This movie crossover theory combines the stories of two seriously messed up minds that audiences love. In regards to the mysterious back story of Heath Ledger’s Joker, some fans have ventured out of the DC Universe for true explanation. It’s all resulted in a very unexpected yet very intriguing crossover theory. Are the Joker from The Dark Knight and the unstable lead character in David Fincher’s psychological thriller Fight Club one in the same?
In Fight Club, the emotionally numb and tortured insomniac sinks into madness through encounters with what turns out to be his split personality. While he eventually manages to cause an epidemic of chaos with an underground fighting organization that begins to set its sights on destroying society, perhaps Tyler Durden and “The Narrator” didn’t stop there. Considering how his plans all sound fairly similar to ones our crazed villain from Batman would come up with, there are other noted similarities that make this theory even deeper.
Both The Narrator and the Joker have alleged tricky relationships with their father, both of their true names remain unknown, and they both crave to destroy the comfortable lives of others. Not to mention the fact that this theory explains the Joker’s famous Chelsea smile, as at the end of Fight Club, the narrator shoots himself in the cheek. In the book version, it’s even noted that this gunshot leaves a cheek to cheek scar…
Did we miss any of the craziest Mr. J theories out there? Do you think you know the truth about the Joker? Let us know in the comments.