Just hearing the name “Joker” is enough to strike fear into the hearts of anyone residing in the DC Universe. The Clown Prince of Crime is not a force to be trifled with; whenever he pops up you know that something big is about to go down. In fact, many comic readers are now at the point where they’re getting tired of seeing the Joker pop up in every major storyline and would rather see other villains get their time to shine.
One of the major flaws of Batman‘s nesmesis is his lack of superpowers or any sort of abilities whatsoever. Despite his infamous reputation for causing chaos and destruction, the Joker is just an insane guy dressed up like a clown. In theory, this means that other DC superheroes should have no issue whatsoever in handling the Clown Prince of Crime when he sets foot in their city.
How on Earth could the Joker be a threat to heavy hitters like Wonder Woman or Superman!? Well, the Joker is one of DC’s greatest villains for a reason! Someway, somehow, he finds a way to take on even the most powerful of enemies.
Here are 15 Superheroes The Joker Has Defeated (That Aren’t Batman)!
15. Superman (Injustice)
Let’s get this list started right off the bat with the most obvious one. Injustice: Gods Among Us has become a hit “elseworlds” franchise within the DC lore, with its own comic book series and a recent video game sequel. We all know the story by now, but that’s because it’s so great!
The Joker shows up in Metropolis, murders Jimmy Olsen, and kidnaps Lois Lane. With the help of the rest of the Justice League, Superman is able to track down where the psychopath was holding his pregnant wife hostage. However, just before he opens the door to find her he is sprayed with a dose of Kryptonite-laced fear toxin and hallucinates Doomsday; he flies the villain out into space to take care of him.
Kal-El then realizes that he’s actually taken Lois, who dies from a lack of oxygen. The Joker had hooked her heart up to a detonator, too: the minute it stopped beating, Metropolis gets destroyed by a nuclear blast. Having lost everything he’s ever cared about, Superman finally crosses the line and kills the Joker, sending him spiraling into a dictator-like mindset and pitting the heroes of the DC universe against one and other.
Although Jason Momoa’s interpretation of the character looks to bring Aquaman back to his former glory, the character has been seen as a joke by the casual comic book fan for decades now.
At a time in which his popularity was near rock-bottom, Aquaman actually struggled with the Joker. While underwater. Let that sink in for a moment.
Legends of the DC Universe #26 and #27 see the Clown Prince of Crime entering Atlantis while escaping from the Dark Knight. Though Arthur Curry knows the villain’s ploy, the Joker is able to convince his underlings that he is the King of the Surface world and that he wishes to help them find a cure for their venom-infected fish. There’s even an Atlantean scientist who falls in love with the murderous clown!
To add insult to injury, the Joker is able to get away scot-free at the story’s end. This victory isn’t a physical defeat, but rather a psychological one: The Joker was able to turn a majority of Aquaman’s kingdom against him!
The Joker and Barbara Gordon have a controversial history. In the legendary story The Killing Joke, the Joker breaks into Jim Gordon’s home, shoots Barbra in the stomach, and then kidnaps the Commissioner and subjects him to psychological torture. The controversy in this story comes from the fact that, as part of the torture, the Joker forces Jim to look at pictures of his daughter’s naked and mutilated body. It’s something that goes beyond the realm of disturbing and is something that many fans still consider “over the line” to this day.
To add insult to an already disturbing injury, this action happened within the DC canon. This meant that from 1988 to the reboot of the universe, Barbara Gordon was confined to a wheelchair. Her replacement as Batgirl had no better luck against he Joker, either; Cassandra Cain was bested in hand-to-hand combat not once, but twice in DC First: Batgirl/Joker. In this issue Cain finds that she cannot read the Joker’s body language due to his insane nature. He uses this to his advantage and is able to beat the snot out of her two times.
12. Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman #97)
The ’90s were a weird time for comic book heroes. Everything seemed like it had to be “edgy” or “grimdark” in order to appeal to the modern audience. Superheroes like Wonder Woman suffered immensely; look at that costume! In what world is that the shining beacon of hope that Diana is supposed to represent? If we hadn’t mentioned the character’s name, it would be next to impossible to figure out who it is.
The two part story in Wonder Woman #96-97 deals with a gang war in Boston that Diana is trying to stop (like we said, “edgy”). Like a moth to the flame, the Joker is drawn into the chaos and tries to make the war even more deadly. Diana confronts the villain, but he is able to get the jump on her and spray her with a special blend of Joker venom that slowly turns her mad. She is able to finally break free from the toxin, but only after asking the god Pan to make her even more insane than the Joker. In the short time that she was incapacitated, Joker is able to escalate the gang war to new levels of violence.
11. Jason Todd (as Robin)
You knew this was going to be on here somewhere. In what is arguably the greatest Joker/Robin story ever told, A Death in the Family, the relationship between the villain and Batman is taken to a whole new level. The tale involves Batman, Robin, and Superman trying to find Jason Todd’s kidnapped mother. They eventually track the Joker to the Middle East, where he becomes an official in the Iranian Government. Yeah, it’s not exactly The Long Halloween.
What people remember A Death in the Family for is the brutal beating and death of Jason Todd at the hands of the Joker. After a series of false leads, Jason is able to track his mother down to an old warehouse. Joker is waiting there for him, and beats him to a bloody pulp with a crowbar before setting off a bomb that kills both Jason and his mother.
Crazily enough, the death of Robin was not set in stone; the issue ended on a cliffhanger, and readers were asked to call a 900-number to decide if he should live or die. Fans decided he should perish, and Batman comics were changed forever.
10. The Entire Justice League (Endgame)
When people talk about the Joker being ridiculously overpowered, they have a perfect example in the pages of Batman: Endgame. Written by Scott Snyder, this was the arc that “finally” killed off the Joker. At least, until the entire DC universe was rebooted again with DC Rebirth a few years later. It showed the Joker manipulating Batman into thinking the Clown Prince was an immortal demon via the use of Lazarus Pits, healing serums, and knowledge that only someone seemingly immortal would know. At the story’s end Batman and Joker are crushed by the rubble of the Batcave as it collapses around them.
Endgame kicks off with the Joker getting the jump on the entire Justice League. Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg are all infected with a new strain of Joker venom that turns them into rampaging monsters who want to kill Batman. We aren’t shown how Joker was able to infect the most powerful superheroes in the world without them putting up a fight. That’s probably for the better, as there is no way anyone could come up with a plausible scenario in which that happens.
9. Alexander Luthor
On Earth-3, everything is flipped around. The world cowers in fear at the Crime Syndicate of America, a group consisting of evil versions of each Justice League member. Naturally, a world full of evil heroes has to have a “good” villain! Alexander Luthor is the son of Earth-3’s version of Lex Luthor and Lois Lane who inherited his father’s intellect as well as gained the power to manipulate matter and anti-matter. He is the only surviving hero on Earth-3 and the universe’s only hope against the Syndicate.
During the Infinite Crisis storyline, Alexander Luthor tries to re-create the DC Multiverse by using the powers of the Anti-Monitor. He is stopped by a variety of heroes but is allowed to escape. While hiding in an alleyway in Gotham City, Luthor is approached by the Joker and Earth-2’s Lex, who promptly throw acid onto his face, permanently disfiguring him. Lex taunts his alt-universe son for comments he had made earlier in which Alex claimed he was “You [Lex], only better.” The Joker then laughs manically as he shoots Alex point blank in the face with a shotgun.
8. Jason Todd (as Red Hood)
Poor Jason Todd just can’t beat the Joker. Even as the violent vigilante Red Hood, the Joker is still able to escape his clutches time and time again. When Jason was resurrected by Ra’s al Ghul via a Lazarus Pit, he vowed to take off the kid gloves when it came to crime: anyone who was too dangerous to be left alive was going to suffer a painful death at his hands. Although the character has mellowed out since his return in 2005, he will always want the Joker dead.
This became apparent in Batman: The Red Hood, in which Jason created an elaborate plot upon his return to force Batman to finally kill his greatest enemy. He kidnaps the Joker, has Batman meet him in an old house, and reveals his identity as the former Robin. Todd pleads with Batman to make an exception to his only rule just this once, just for the man who took his beloved ward away from him.
7. The Creeper
The Creeper is one of those characters that people don’t know what to make of. By all accounts, Jack Ryder’s alter-ego is a superhero through and through. However, just by taking one look at the guy you’d assume he’s a villain; the yellow skin, the overly elaborate design, even just the name sounds like it oozes with villainy! Alas, the Creeper is a vigilante of Gotham City who often comes into contact with members of Batman’s rogues gallery.
Joker and the Creeper come to blows in 1975’s Joker #3. When the Joker frames Jack Ryder for a robbery that he didn’t commit, the Creeper hunts him down and tries to confront him. At first, it looks like the hero has the upper hand; after a series of body blows he knocks the clown to the ground, seemingly defeated.
In true Joker fashion, his coattails shoot out as a projectile and knock the Creeper off guard, allowing the Joker to gain the upper hand and choke the hero into unconsciousness. The Creeper is a character with superhuman strength and agility, making the mere ease with which Joker disposes of him one of the more laughable defeats on this list.
6. The Atom
Word to the wise: don’t try to go into the Joker’s head. The Atom is a B-list character that has recently regained his popularity thanks to Brandon Routh’s portrayal in Legends of Tomorrow. As much as people like to blast the character for being an Ant-Man ripoff (or is Ant-Man a ripoff of The Atom?), the character has come into his own in recent years. Ray Palmer was a brilliant scientist who was able to use the power from a white dwarf star to manipulate objects at a subatomic level, allowing them to shrink and grow in size.
During one of his adventures, the Atom finds himself journeying into the head of the supervillain while he is on his deathbed in the hospital. Things definitely don’t go according to plan. Although Palmer is able to save the Joker’s life, he almost descends into madness himself after encountering the clown’s insane memories. The Joker once said he preferred his past to be multiple choice and apparently actually believed it himself. Palmer doesn’t know what is real and what isn’t when he sees the Joker’s memories, allowing him to see just why the character is so insane.
5. Wonder Woman (The Brave and the Bold)
Not to be confused with the comic series of the same name, Batman: The Brave and the Bold was a cartoon that brought the Dark Knight back down to his campy roots. Each week Batman would get to team up with one of the many superheroes in the DC universe for an adventure that was completely kooky. The style of humor was akin to that of the ’66 Adam West show while also introducing younger fans to an array of lesser-known heroes and villains.
In one particular episode the Clown Prince of Crime tries his hand at bringing down Wonder Woman’s empire. He disguises himself as an Amazon Warrior and participates in a gladiator-like spectacle for the Queen and Princess. He quickly dispatches the rest of the competitors with his knockout gas before approaching Diana.
4. Superman (Again)- Emperor Joker
For a guy with no superpowers, the Joker is sure able to get under Superman’s skin quite often. In the Emperor Joker story, Superman wakes up to a new reality in which the Justice League are all wanted criminals and in which the team’s greatest supervillains are seen as heroes. After some intense investigation, Kal-El discovers that the Joker was able to trick Mr. Mxyzptlk into giving him a portion of his reality-warping powers. The Joker being the Joker, he uses the powers to create the most twisted reality he could possibly think of.
Just the fact that a mere mortal was able to change the reality in a way that tortured the Man of Steel is enough to chalk this up as a “victory.” However, Superman takes a heaping handful of beatings by the Joker and his minions before he is finally able to pry the powers away from the maniacs hands. On the psychological side, Superman is forced to watch his close friend, Batman, get killed over and over in a bunch of cruel ways every single day.
3. Booster Gold
We mentioned before just how critical and controversial The Killing Joke was to DC’s history. In Booster Gold #5, the time-traveling hero decides (somewhat meta-like) that he needs to go back and completely reverse the atrocities that were committed against Barbara Gordon. Despite the warnings of Rip Hunter about changing the timeline, Booster sets his dial back to 1988, just before the Joker barges in on Gordon.
The hero is promptly met by the Joker’s henchmen and taken back to the carnival hideout. He escapes, makes a bee-line for Gordon’s house, and arrives just as Barbara is shot. After a brief scuffle with the Joker, Booster Gold is thrown to the ground and shot in the head. Of course, this just sends him back to the future, where he resets and tries to save Barbara again.
The Joker’s Last Laugh was an interesting story that saw the famed villain diagnosed with a terminal illness. Not wanting to go out on a soft note, the Joker plans one last major plot involving Batman and the entire Bat-Family. What follows is a ridiculously complex plot involving every single character to ever grace the pages of Batman comics, including all of his sidekicks and a majority of his major villains.
At the climax of the story, Tim Drake is thought to have been killed by Killer Croc. While investigating the reptilian villain’s lair, the Bat Family finds a set of bones sitting next to the torso of Robin’s iconic red and green costume. Consumed with rage, Nightwing hunts down the Joker and gives him a beating to end all beatings; he pummels the Joker with his fists until he eventually kills him.
However, it turns out that Robin was actually alive, but it was too late – the Joker had finally pushed one of Batman’s allies over the line. Luckily, some multiverse foolery brings Joker back to life almost immediately after.
1. The Teen Titans
Besides Deathstroke, what other villain can say that they were able to take on the Teen Titans and (even temporarily) win? In Titans East Special, the Clown Prince of Crime convinces Bizarro to help him kidnap a famous singer. When the superhero team shows up to save her, the Joker sends reverse Superman after Starfire, Cyborg, and Wonder Girl while he stays back and holds the hostage at gunpoint. With Kid Flash, Robin, and Raven still able to focus their attention on him, Joker doesn’t stand a chance. Right?
Kid Flash is able to snatch the Joker’s gun away along with the hostage. Unbeknownst to him, the gun is actually a bomb, which goes off and puts Kid Flash out of commission. Raven then tries to use her magic to subdue the Joker, making his worst nightmares appear before him in his mind. This turns out to be useless when she finds that the psychopath actually finds his nightmares to be funny.
Thankfully, the Titans are able to use Blue Kryptonite to cripple Bizarro, leaving the entire team free to focus on the Joker. If not for this bit of luck, the Joker could have easily taken the day.
What do you think of our list? Should the Joker just stick to fighting Batman? Were there any glaring omissions? Let us know in the comments!
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