The Joker is easily one of the most iconic villains of all time. After all, not every villain gets their own movie, let alone a massive blockbuster success. As Batman's most famous villain, The Joker has been haunting Gotham City and DC's Universe since his debut in 1940. But if the Clown Prince of Crime suddenly found himself in the world of Marvel superheroes, which of them would make the best nemesis?
The Joker loves a good laugh, whether it's a result of poisoning thousands of citizens with his toxin, or simply murdering Robin as DC fans demand. That's certainly the most obvious reason he makes for the perfect antagonist to the dark, brooding, and humorless Batman. Together, they're comic magic--but if Joker only had Marvel's characters to choose from, who would he find as amusing as the Caped Crusader? And just as important... who could he have the potential to break? It's a question fans may have never thought to ask, but we think we have an answer.
What Makes The Joker Batman's Greatest Enemy?
No villain pushes Batman's buttons quite like The Joker. In some versions of his origin story, that fact is made even more poetic by having Batman literally push a hitman into a vat of acid to create The Joker. In other stories, it's The Joker who creates Batman. They're tied together in an endless battle between good and evil. So what really makes The Joker Batman's greatest enemy? Is it his mission to devolve Gotham into chaos and take away everything Batman loves? Is it his relentless desire to push Batman over the edge and force him to break his "one rule"? Or is it his mission to prove Batman's a total joke, making meaning where there is none?
At the core of his mythology, Batman seeks to bring justice and order to an otherwise chaotic world; The Joker wants nothing more than to bring the system down. Their battle is most likely never going to end, since (as Health Ledger's Joker told Christian Bale's Batman), "You won't kill me because of some rule. And I won't kill you because you're just too much fun." The Joker doesn't win when he murders Batman. He wins when he pushes Batman over the edge. That's typically achieved by Joker through his use of pranks, unhinged and horrfying humor, and games. The Marvel Comics superhero he'd obsess over would need to be one with an unshakable sense of justice, and a set of rules to give his mission meaning. And most important of all... a family he can destroy.
The Perfect Marvel Match for DC's Joker?
There are several superheroes in the Marvel Universe who may seem like a good match for DC's Joker. Moon Knight is a dark and brooding superhero with striking similarities to Batman--but with a penchant for pain and a dash of crazy, Moon Knight is a little too similar to the Clown Prince of Crime. Daredevil spends his time protecting Hell's Kitchen and the found family he's made there (not to mention the profound sense of justice that comes with having your own Law Practice). But Daredevil fans know Matt Murdock is more likely to beat Joker bloody rather than play his games, assuming he ever came for those he loved.
The same could also be said if Joker--a dedicated serial killer--found himself at the end of Punisher's rifle. The Joker could also have a lot of fun breaking Bruce Banner's will, and forcing him to turn into the destructive Hulk. But Banner has never been too interested in being your everyday superhero. Not to mention he doesn't have a set of rules to preventing him from Hulk-Smashing Joker to death. So which of Marvel's many heroes would be the best fit for one of DC's greatest villains? Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, of course!
Spider-Man is easily one of the purest and most innocent superheroes in all of comics. A young and sometimes naive spirit who not only has his own rogues' gallery to rival Batman's, but even his own Spider-Family, too. His mission and example has inspired several other heroes, the most notable being Miles Morales, his successor. As an Avenger he's become a symbol of unbreakable hope throughout the Marvel Universe. Thanks to the tragic death of Peter's Uncle Ben, the iconic reminder that "with great power must also come great responsibility" helps to fuel his passionate protection of New York City.
And that all sounds like a perfectly pleasant picture for Joker to utterly destroy. While Spider-Man may be famous for his sense of humor, it would take somebody like Joker to wipe the smile off of his face. To take the family of Spider-heroes he's cultivated. And to come for his wife, his friends, even his beloved Aunt May. To show Peter that his "responsibility" mantra is the funniest joke he's ever heard.
Spider-Man vs. The Joker
Spider-Man's long history has ranged from silly to serious--just like The Joker. For every comical scene where Spidey saves the day with some simple web-slinging, there's a sinister plot of mobsters plotting to take over the city or murder civilians. The Joker is the perfect villain for gory mayhem or sillier stories that are light on stakes, but heavy on mystery. While Spider-Man isn't a detective like the Caped Crusader, he would be more than curious to understand the identity of DC's dastardly devil. He is a freelancer for The Daily Bugle, after all.
Spider-Man should be thankful that The Joker has decided to make his home in Gotham, as opposed to New York proper. There's no doubt that Peter Parker is more than a match for the DC villain in a fight, but that's never been what makes the murderous Clown so dangerous. It's psychological damage he's after. It's not too often that Marvel fans have had to endure a terrifying, nightmare-ish Spider-Man story, but with The Joker there would be no rules, no restrictions, and no boundaries. A rivalry that would leave Spider-Man in mourning, and The Joker laughing all the way back to his own Universe.
Until the fateful day that DC's greatest villain decides to leave Gotham, Spider-Man and the rest of the Marvel Universe are probably more than happy to leave The Joker to Batman.