Batman is the world’s greatest detective, and he is widely regarded as being the greatest superhero who doesn’t have any superpowers. Which is strange, considering that there are countless things he can do that other superheroes (and supervillains) cannot. For a hero like that, he can only be matched by a supervillain equally as exceptional. That may not be the proper word to describe the Joker, but there’s no denying the Clown Prince of Crime’s unique set of skills — and powers.
Yes, the Joker is typically depicted as someone without superpowers, just like Batman, but there have been times when he’s actually possessed supernatural skills of his own. Of course, those were all in addition to the abilities and skill set he already possessed. There must be a reason, after all, why no matter how many times Batman foils the Joker’s plans, the Clown always manages to come back stronger and scarier than before.
With that in mind, here are 15 Superpowers You Didn’t Know The Joker Had.
15. He’s Fearless… literally
To many, Batman is a superhero without fear — but that’s not true, is it? It’s not that Batman doesn’t experience fear; rather, he manages to overcome his fear and turn it against his enemies. That’s why the villains in Gotham are so afraid of the Dark Knight. Well, everyone except for the Joker, of course. One of the unique aspects of the Clown Prince of Crime may not be a superpower, per se, but it is something unique to the character. He is fearless in every sense of the word.
Joker will not flinch when going up against Batman or any other superhero or supervillain, for he literally cannot feel fear. For instance, in the Knightfall story arc, Scarecrow attempts to poison the Joker with his fear toxin, but all the Joker does is laugh, and say, “Boo!” Since it didn’t work, the Joker attacked Scarecrow, beat him to a pulp, and ended their alliance. As for why the toxin didn’t work on the Joker, or why he doesn’t feel fear, an explicit reason isn’t given — though him being insane might have something to do with it.
14. Poison immunity
Some of the most unique aspects of the Joker are his physiology and characteristics. We’re not talking beyond his stark-white skin and green-colored hair, but rather his body’s natural ability to reject toxins. In addition to being literally fearless, the Joker has toxic immunity. He can use his toxins on other people, but they won’t affect him in any way. Perhaps that’s another reason Scarecrow’s fear toxin didn’t work on the Joker — his physiology makes him immune to such poisons.
In the story arc The Clown at Midnight (Batman #663), writer Grant Morrison briefly explains why the Joker is immune not only to his toxins but to poison in general: “An avid consumer of his own chemical experiments, the Joker’s immunity to poison concoctions that might kill another man in an instant has been developed over years of dedicated abuse.” In other words, the Joker underwent a drastic, bizarre form of immunotherapy. Then again, he is the Joker, so we really shouldn’t put something like this past him.
Legendary comic book writer Grant Morrison produced some of the best Batman stories of all time during his tenure writing the Dark Knight, including the 1989 graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Series House on Serious Earth. Morrison continued the trend of deconstructionism in comic books following the inception of the Bronze Age of Comics (otherwise known as the Dark Age). Instead of dissecting the central hero, though, Morrison chose to deconstruct Batman’s villains, and there is no greater Batman villain than the Joker.
One of the primary characteristics about the Joker is that he’s insane; it’s something that has been reiterated time and again. But what if he wasn’t insane? What if he was the opposite of insane? That is what Morrison proposed in Arkham Asylum, that instead of being a raving lunatic, the Joker suffers from super-sanity: “a brilliant new modification of human perception…the Joker seems to have no control over sensory information he’s receiving from the outside world. He can only cope with the chaotic barrage of input by going with the flow. That’s why some days he’s a mischievous clown, others a psychopathic killer. He has no real personality. He creates himself each day.”
12. Genius-level intellect (particularly in chemistry)
Whether the Joker is super sane is debatable — but everyone knows that the Joker is actually completely nuts, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t intelligent. What many people don’t understand about the character is that he’s actually a genius-level chemist. How else would someone be able to whip up a toxin that can affect everyone but himself? Of course, the Joker isn’t as smart as some of Batman’s other villains, or as the Dark Knight himself, but he is a genius-level intellectual who specializes in chemistry and psychology (ironic, considering his condition). Then again, Harley Quinn was a psychiatrist before being corrupted by the Clown Prince of Crime.
There have been several stories in which Batman has journeyed through the Joker’s mind. It’s a scary place to be, one that’s seemingly impossible to navigate. The best way to possibly describe the Joker’s intelligence is that he displays fleeting moments of pure brilliance that allows him to gain the upper hand against his arch-nemesis. Still, the skill he uses most is his knowledge of chemistry. Remember, he suffers from super-sanity; one day he could be a genius, and the next, he’s completely inept.
11. (Superhuman?) Pain resistance
Have you ever wondered why someone with such a seemingly frail body could go head-to-head with the Dark Knight, the most feared man in Gotham City? When he’s defeated people like Bane, it makes you wonder how the Joker could stand a chance against him in a full-on brawl. That’s because the Joker’s body allows him to withstand legions of pain. As for why — though unconfirmed, it’s often theorized that the Joker’s exposure to chemicals throughout his life, especially when he fell into the vat at ACE Chemicals that transformed him into the being he is today, heightened his resilience to pain.
It’s unclear how high Joker’s tolerance for pain is, but it’s certainly higher than any other villain in Gotham. After all, this is a man who cut off his own face and pinned his skin onto a wall. Later, he reattached the decomposing skin back onto his face. And he did it all with a big ol’ smile on his face. He’s either crazier than we all thought (which seems impossible) or he just doesn’t feel pain (or, perhaps he chooses to ignore it, which might be even more impressive).
10. Toxic blood
We already know that the Joker is not only immune to his own poisonous concoctions but also to toxins brewed by other villains, such as Scarecrow. In Batman #663, Grant Morrison suggests that all the experiments Joker conducted on himself over the years contributed towards his ability to repel poison from his body — but what if that wasn’t the only thing it did? Perhaps another reason for why Joker is immune to poison is because his blood itself is poisonous.
In the same comic issue, Morrison mentions a mosquito dying after sucking Joker’s blood; it “writhes and whines, choking on tainted blood,” Morrison wrote, referring to the mosquito dying, implying that the Joker has contaminated blood. Interestingly, shortly before the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum, Joker sends his blood to various hospitals around Gotham City infecting the patients. Though that storyline involved the Titan Disease, it goes to show how long Joker was able to survive with tainted blood in his system.
9. Master escapologist
Batman is the ultimate evader. Despite being trapped in numerous harrowing situations, the Dark Knight always finds a way not only to escape but also to take down his enemies at the same time. It’s why the police are never able to capture him, and why, no matter how secure a place is, he always finds a way in — and a way out. Take a look at the recent Batman: I Am Suicide story arc to see what we mean. Of course, Batman isn’t the only master escapologist in Gotham. The Joker always seems to have a few tricks up his sleeves, too.
Because the justice department classifies Joker as criminally insane, he is always sent to Arkham Asylum whenever the Caped Crusader captures him. But no matter how many times he’s admitted into the institution, the Clown Prince of Crime never fails to escape. It’s a favorite pastime for him. His ability to break away to freedom time and time again from seemingly inescapable situations is a rather unique skill, one that more villains should consider mastering.
8. Master tactician
Batman is the ultimate believer in preparation. Given enough time to formulate a plan of attack, and the right gadgets to use, there is virtually no being in existence he can’t defeat. He’s even beaten Darkseid once or twice without superpowers. So, it only makes sense that his arch-nemesis share the same level of strategy development.
The Joker is a master tactician. We don’t even need to delve that far into the comics to see his skills at work. We need only take a look at the movies to see how he manages to bring Gotham City to its knees and even break the spirit of the Caped Crusader. Not many people would be able to do either of those things.
As for the comics, in Batman: Endgame, the Joker managed to infect the Justice League with a potent strain of the Joker Toxin that turned Superman, Flash, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman against the Caped Crusader. Being able to concoct a strong enough dose that would infect heroes of widely different physiological bodies is astonishing, to say the least, and certainly daunting coming from the Joker.
7. Mister Mxyzptlk’s powers
Unlike the Joker, Mister Mxyzptlk is a supernatural trickster who makes life a little more difficult for the Man of Steel instead of the Dark Knight. Sometimes, though, one hero’s villains tend to show up in another hero’s comic series, such as the Joker’s occasional starring turns in the Superman comics.
In the Emperor Joker story arc, the Joker managed to temporarily steal 99.9 percent of Mister Mxyzptlk’s unique, fifth-dimensional powers, leaving the Superman villain with a fraction of his normally astounding abilities. As one can imagine, an insane supervillain obtaining the power to alter reality, break the fourth wall, and rewrite the third-dimensional laws that hold our existence together isn’t a good thing. One of the first things the Clown Prince of Crime did when he obtained Mister Mxyzptlk’s powers was recreate Earth in his own image — and he did so in 69 seconds.
Interestingly, despite changing virtually every aspect of the DC Universe, including imprisoning Big Blue in Arkham Asylum, the Joker could not remove Batman from existence; his sole purpose in life is to oppose the Dark Knight, no matter which reality he and Batman existed in. He did torture the living hell out of the Caped Crusader, though.
6. Immortality (as a Dark Judge)
Movie studios may have a tough time working together to create crossovers, but the comic book industry has been doing it for years. Marvel and DC Comics have crossed over a few times, though they aren’t the only comic book publishers out there. DC Comics once had Batman and the Joker crossover with 2000 AD’s Judge Dredd.
In the Judge Dredd comics, there are undead villains known as Dark Judges from an alternate dimension — known as Judge Death, Judge Fear, Judge Fire, and Judge Mortis — who destroyed everyone in their reality. Since they are intangible beings, they cannot be killed, only captured. So, when the Joker invaded Judge Dredd’s universe, he made a deal with the Dark Judges to free them from their prison if they granted him immortality.
Once the Joker sets his mind to something, he usually manages to succeed, and that is what happened in the Die Laughing graphic novel. Though he became immortal, it wasn’t the whole ‘everlasting life’ thing he wanted. The Dark Judges immersed his spirit into a corpse and turned him into Judge Joker. After killing a bunch of people by laughing (literally, only laughing), the Joker got bored and returned to Gotham as a regular person (well, as normal as he could be).
5. Healing factor
Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is considered to be one of the greatest Batman stories ever told. So, when he came back to pen a sequel almost two decades later, fans were ecstatic — though it was fundamentally different than its predecessor. Even though The Dark Knight Strikes Again was written and drawn by Miller, the story lacked the emotional stakes of the first miniseries (honestly, it was pretty poorly executed across the board). In its defense, it did give us some twists that we’re talking about today, such as Dick Grayson, the original Robin, becoming the Joker.
It sounds strange, but it’s true. In the miniseries, years after Batman had kicked Grayson to the curb for being an incompetent sidekick, Dick decided to undergo Lex Luthor’s radical gene therapy program. However, the process, coupled with years of physical and mental abuse, drove Dick insane, thus turning him into the miniseries’ version of the Joker. The gene therapy also imbued him with a powerful healing factor. At one point, Batman chopped off Dick’s head with an ax, and Dick managed to stick it back onto his body.
Even though The Dark Knight Strikes Again wasn’t what fans expected, it did at least give readers an interesting look into what Bruce Wayne’s future looked like post-retirement. Sure, Dick Grayson may have turned evil and become the “New Joker,” and, yeah, he killed several superheroes, such as the Guardian and Martian Manhunter, and he came close to killing the latest Robin, Carrie Kelley. But in this series, we saw the dark implications of Bruce’s tough training. In Frank Miller’s world, Bruce wasn’t a good father figure, and his training was abusive. That’s something seldom explored in detail in the mainstream universe, even though it’s frighteningly realistic.
In addition to becoming the Joker and gaining a powerful healing factor, Dick also obtained a shapeshifting ability, which allowed him to physically resemble the real, original Joker, the same one who died in The Dark Knight Returns miniseries. Although this version of the Joker was actually Dick Grayson in disguise, corrupted by the radical gene therapy and years of abuse from Batman, it’s still an alternative version of the Joker, and it totally counts, you guys.
3. Break the fourth wall
Deadpool may be the leading character when it comes to breaking the fourth wall, but he certainly isn’t the only one who can do it. There are plenty of people who have some form of cosmic awareness, or at least who can talk directly to the readers (or viewers). When it comes to the DC Universe, some of the characters who’ve done it are Lobo, Phantom Stranger, and Madame Xanadu. But when it comes to the DC Animated Universe, the Joker is the one who likes to talk to the audience.
On several occasions, the Joker — brilliantly voiced by Mark Hamill — broke the fourth wall and spoke directly to the viewer. For instance, in the episode “Joker’s Wild,” as the Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum, he warns the audience: “Don’t try this at home, kids!” Then, in “Joker’s Favor,” he shouts, “Let’s hear it for him, folks!” Throughout the series, Joker frequently looks into the camera and speaks directly to the audience, as if it was all a comic book version of The Truman Show.
Nearing the end of his run with the Joker and the Dark Knight in the New 52 universe, Scott Snyder aimed to tell a ground-breaking, concluding chapter in his Joker story with the six-issue story arc, Batman: Endgame, in 2014. The storyline takes place shortly after the events of Batman: Eternal, and sees the Joker return to the fold following his disappearance in Batman: Death of the Family in 2012 (not to be confused with Batman: A Death in the Family, in which the Joker killed Jason Todd).
Throughout the story arc, Snyder wanted the readers to question whether or not the Joker and the Pale Man, an immortal being from Gotham’s earliest days, were one and the same. Joker continuously injected himself with a toxin that allowed him to heal from mortal wounds, though Snyder and artist Greg Capullo never confirmed if Joker was, in fact, immortal. “I like to leave the possibility open that what [Joker] saying is true, but all signs point to he’s lying, is the idea. Ultimately, the reason he starts clawing his way toward the Dionesium at the end is because, clearly, it seems he needs to get more to heal and get out of there,” Snyder told IGN.
1. He can make Batman laugh
Batman is by far one of the most somber, deadpan characters there is, but it’s that earnestness that enables him to win the majority of his battles. Sure, Bruce Wayne cracks a few jokes here and there when he needs to blend in, but when he’s wearing the mask, when he’s Batman, he cannot be more serious — and focused. Dick Grayson was always able to lighten the mood, and he once smiled in a picture with a young, pre-Red Hood Jason Todd. That’s about the extent of his lighthearted side. However, if there is one person who could make Batman laugh, it’s the Joker.
In the final pages of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s acclaimed one-shot, Batman: The Killing Joke, the Joker tells a joke about a pair of inmates in a mental asylum who try to escape, with Batman finding the punchline — “What do you think I am, crazy? You’d just turn it off when I’m halfway across!” — hysterical. Some people believe the joke is what the title The Killing Joke refers to (if you believe Batman actually kills the Joker in the end) but that’s something we may never know. In either case, the Joker successfully, unquestionably made the Dark Knight laugh, and if that’s not a superpower, we don’t know what is.
Has the Joker ever displayed any other superpowers in his time in the comics or any other medium? Let us know in the comments!
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