If Batman is prepared for everything, then the Joker has thought a way out of everything. The clown prince of crime has been evolving alongside the ever-adapting caped crusader, acquiring enough know-how and skills over the years to still remain as Batman's greatest, non-kite-based nemesis since 1940's Batman #1. With the multi-talented Joaquin Phoenix having just been confirmed as the new Clown Prince of Crime for the standalone Joker film scheduled to be released in 2019, we figured now would be a good time as any to explore Joker's many bizarre talents and quirky skills from comics, cartoons, video-games and film.
While Batman wears all of his tools on his utility belt, The Joker only wears a smile. For every Batmobile, Bat-Truck and Bat-Plane, there is a Jokermobile, Joker-Zeppelin and "nightmare-clown-themed parade float that makes it rain but also blasts Prince music." After all, when your life's purpose is fighting an overly prepared, ludicrous gadget-wielding grown man dressed like a bat, you've got to find something to put on your resume. Despite his claims of being an Agent of Chaos, The Joker has a particularly meticulously planned set of skills that have allowed him to go tete-a-tete with The Batman for years. Fortunately, The Joker doesn't disappoint, as we've scoured every Joker comic, film and cartoon cameo, finding 20 abilities, skills, quote-unquote powers and honorary doctorates that the Joker has hidden up his sleeve.
20 TRAINED IN BLACK-OPS
During The Dark Knight, Joker gives multiple explanations behind his scars, but it's all fabricated. According to a fan theory, Joker's true identity is hidden in a throwaway line: "If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like... a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics." This simile is Joker's origin story, as his scars are shrapnel-wounds. Consider Joker's proficiency in knives, machine guns, serviceman funeral protocol and rocket propelled grenade launchers (while fighting a Bat-Tank) and this soldier theory gains traction.
Even Joker's untraceable identity suggests that he served in a clandestine black ops unit. Furthermore, when Batman interrogates Joker with a head-slam, Joker is unimpressed, giving Batman tips: "Never start with the head, the victim gets all fuzzy."
19 HE'S A LOVER, NOT A FIGHTER
Joker is a psychopath, but he also knows how to manipulate others into getting what he wants. For starters, Joker manipulated his psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel to not only break him out of Arkham Asylum, but also join up as his side-kick/girlfriend. Harleen wasn't even the only Harley Quinn however, as Joker claims in 2013's Suicide Squad #14 that he has groomed multiple Harleys over the years.
Joker's sociopathy is also a weapon, typically utilized against Batman. Joker treats Batman like a scorned lover, constantly flirting, goosing and basically just hitting on the super-repressed Batman with psychological warfare during fights. Seriously, nearly every one of Joker's lines from Batman: Death of The Family can be read as a double entendre.
18 BUT ALSO, HE'S A FIGHTER
Depending on the writer, The Joker's hand to hand combat abilities can range from "one punch chump" to "guy whose purpose in life is fighting The Batman." For example, Joker goes punch for punch with Batman in a collapsing cave in Batman: Endgame. Batman "wins," though riddled with acid burns, knives and a playing card stuck in his eye, Batman decides to give up: "I'm just going to rest here for a little while with my friend."
Likewise, while masquerading as eccentric British detective Oberon Sexton, Joker non-lethally fought The 99 Fiends alongside Robin so effectively that Damian Wayne – Batman's biological son – asks if Oberon is actually Bruce Wayne in Batman & Robin #13.
17 MASTER OF DISGUISE
Incidentally, Joker's extended masquerade as scarred British detective Oberon Sexton is one of his greatest feats. Oberon is essentially Joker expertly compensating for a world without The Batman, who was lost in the fabric of space-time at the time. Crime families try to blackmail Oberon Sexton into betraying Batman, while the G.C.P.D. invites Oberon Sexton to shake hands with Commissioner Gordon. Finally, Robin blurts out Batman's secret identity to Oberon.
What about Eric Border, the kind Arkham Asylum orderly who cares for his patients, working as the Bat-Family's "Ally in Arkham" and upholding his belief in criminal rehabilitation across multiple Bat-series? Yeah, no that's the Joker. Every compelling new Batman character is probably always The Joker.
16 SNEAK LEVEL 100
Despite his proclivity for dramatic entrances, Joker knows the benefits of stealth tactics. Take Batman: Death of The Family, where Joker finally gets serious with his darling Batman, pulling all out all of his hidden tricks.
Moving like Batman himself in "Predator mode," Joker systematically takes down 19 G.C.P.D. officers within their very headquarters, utilizing just guerrilla tactics and his own hands while constantly taunting them like some sort of clown-themed Xenomorph. Commissioner Gordon gets a bead on someone, only to discover its Batman at the last moment. That means that not only was Joker stealth enough to get the drop on 19 police officers trained to deal with supervillain nonsense, but also out-ninja'd Batman as well.
15 SCIENCE, BATMAN!
Considering the many iterations of his signature toxin that he has created over the years, from its first appearance in 1940's Batman #1 to the dystopian Joker-zombie future of Batman Incorporated (Vol. 2) #5, The Joker basically has an honorary Criminal Master's Degree in chemical engineering.
Take Batman: Endgame, where Joker infects the Justice League with individualized Joker toxins, triggering an amazing Justice League versus Batman in a Bat-Mecha boss battle. In addition to putting the League out of commission for five days, this toxicology feat required not only extensive mastery over chemistry and biology, but also xenobiology to infect Superman and Aquaman, religious studies for Wonder Woman, nonsense-physics for The Flash and techno-wizardry for Cyborg.
14 NO FEAR
In addition to being immune to his own venom, Joker also happens to be immune to Scarecrow's Fear Gas. Fear Gas is exactly what it sounds like: a potent gas that causes spooky hallucinations if inhaled. Some claim that Joker's immunity to fear gas is due to the chemicals coursing through his clown-flesh. Others believe that Joker's "super-insanity" makes the gas pointless.
All solid theories, but The Joker's ex-girlfriend Harley Quinn has the most likely explanation: As we discover in Injustice 2, Harley Quinn is unaffected after a blast of fear gas. A nonplussed Harley explains: "Please. I used to huff this stuff for kicks." Are we saying that Joker and Harley party on fear gas? Probably, yeah.
13 MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE
In addition to his extensive chemical engineering abilities, The Joker also is a techno-jester. Joker's signature chattering teeth for instance are tiny robots programmed to go for the jugular. Also, during his days as Red Hood One, proto-Joker is able to disable Wayne Industries' hidden magnetic tracking devices.
Likewise, Joker is able to program his consciousness into a tiny microchip, allowing him to assume direct control over Tim Drake's body from beyond the grave in Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker. Heck, even The Joker from the '60s Batman television series built two replicants named Yock and Boff while still incarcerated.
12 HE CAN DRIVE
Considering that Joker is often depicted as a mastermind, crime boss kind of villain, it is not surprising that more often than not, Joker utilizes a driver. Just as Batman has a Batmobile, however, Joker also has an appropriately themed Jokermobile. First rolling on the scene in 1946's Batman #37, the Jokermobile has gone through multiple iterations, oftentimes implementing Speed Racer style gadgets and twin machine guns to outperform the Batmobile.
Joker really doesn't want you to know that he has a Jokermobile, as he took his eponymous mobile out for a final ride in Gotham City Sirens #5. The car is fine, it's just that some teenagers called the Jokermobile the "Weinermobile" while Joker was driving it.
11 BUT YOU KNOW THAT HE'S TOXIC
A battle-damaged Batman bareknuckle punches Joker right in his flesh face-mask during Batman: Death in The Family. Batman suddenly pauses, realizing that he had cut his knuckles on the Joker's teeth. Poisoned by Joker's very saliva, Batman begins to hallucinate as Joker gains the upper hand.
Joker's entire body is just permeated with chemicals – hence his pallid complexion – this, in addition to exacerbating his insanity will also infect anyone who comes into contact with his bodily fluids. Take fangirl super-villain Duela Dent, who discovers Clown-Daddy Joker's flesh face mask, stitching it into her own face. As her insanity intensifies, the delirious Duela injects herself with Joker's blood, pushing the ecstatic Duela further into psychosis and into the creepy-crazy villain category.
10 GENRE AWARENESS
The most Ferris Buellerian of Joker's skills is his ability to break the fourth wall. While Joker doesn't rely on this gimmick as much as Deadpool, he still addresses the audience directly in Young Justice, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, oftentimes warning the viewer "not to try this at home." An explanation behind this ability is that Joker's unique perspective on reality (read: "super-insanity") enables him to see the truth behind his reality.
Additionally, during the Joker's Asylum miniseries, Joker plays the part of "slightly more attractive Crypt Creeper," directly addressing the audience in a series of vignettes regarding Arkham Asylum's more curious inmates.
9 HE CAN TEACH A GORILLA HOW TO DO CRIME
Longing to start a family, Joker ape-naps an baby gorilla to raise as his own son in Batman #23.1. Indicative of his mastery over engineering and education, Jokers teaches his ape-son Jackanapes how to construct his own gorilla themed arsenal, including banana grenades, a gorilla-hand-cannon and a special gas grenade that mutates people into gorilla-monsters.
Joker's methods prove to be too inhuman for even a gorilla however, as Jackanapes chooses not to deploy his rocket pack when fighting gorilla-monsters in midair, plummeting into the Gotham harbor. Joker laughs, probably because despite the implication, Jackanapes is definitely-probably not dead. Escaping a watery demise is like, the most basic Batman-character level move there is.
8 HE CAN ESCAPE A WATERY DEMISE
Seriously, it's kinda weird how frequently Batman characters escape a watery demise. Even when the Joker is stuck on an airship plummeting into the ocean and facing a loose bag of exploding marbles during "The Brave and The Bold" from Batman: The Animated Series, Joker inexplicably manages to escape.
Being an expert swimmer can help one escape a watery demise, or in Joker's case an impromptu chemical bath when being chased by Batman during a botched heist in Batman: The Killing Joke. Even when Batman drops Joker off of an underground waterfall in Batman: Death of The Family, Joker survives. Joker would later swim back through this submerged cave system to infiltrate the Batcave and steal Batman's Robo-T-Rex in Batman: Endgame.
7 HE'S IMMORTAL, SOMETIMES
Commissioner Gordon finally does his job when he shoots the Joker in Batman: Endgame. Ecstatic, Gordon calls Batman to tell him the good news: "He's gone, Batman. Flesh and blood. Dead. Not magic. Not reborn." Like some sort of comedic Michael Meyers (the Halloween monster we mean) Joker rises to axe Gordon.
When Batman dropped Joker off of a cliff, Joker discovered a pool of Dionesium. This immortality-giving chemical can be found in Vandal Savage's meteorite, Ra's al Ghul's Lazarus Pits and Joker's spinal fluid. Batman removes the healing substance by breaking it out of Joker's back with a stalagmite.
6 HE'S A TRIPLE THREAT
Joker doesn't just express his love for Batman with crowbars, poison and general debauchery, but also through acting, singing and dancing. Honestly, The Joker is a natural performer. During the animated adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke, Joker provides a song and dance number that is much appreciated during a frankly bleak animated film. Though the song is designed to help turn James Gordon insane, it's somewhat impossible not to love, considering the singing abilities of Mark Hamill, the quintessential voice of The Joker.
Hamill's Joker also sings a hauntingly beautiful rendition of "Only You," reflecting Joker's obsession with Batman over the ending credits of Batman: Arkham City. Joker-Hamill also performs "Cold, Cold Heart" in Arkham Origins and "Can't Stop Laughing" in Arkham Knight.
5 BUT NO, REALLY, HE'S A TRIPLE THREAT
A theory introduced in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth is that the Joker has a "super-personality," one that hyper-adapts and redefines itself in order to remain unpredictable. Neat idea, but they're really overthinking how a single villain can undergo multiple personality changes over a long criminal career. As we discover in DC Universe: Rebirth #1, The Joker is actually three people, making "The Joker" technically a legacy character... possibly.
When Batman sat on Metron's omniscient chair, he learned that there are three Jokers. The first is the 1940s Joker. The second is The Killing Joke era Joker, while the third is the Dark Nights Metal era Joker. Precisely where each Joker's career begins and ends however still remains unknown.
4 TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Like any good comedian, the Joker has good timing, so much so that "good timing" may actually be Joker's "superpower." That is to say, Joker's power is being the "punchline." Take Infinite Crisis' ending, where Alexander Luthor is about to escape, only to cross paths with The Joker, the one super-villain who wasn't invited to Alexander Luthor's secret society.
Likewise, arch-villain Dr. Simon Hurt is about to escape in Grant Morrison's Batman & Robin #16, only to discover that Joker's been waiting for him. Hurt dashes for a revolver placed before him, only to slip on a banana peel that Joker had left behind at the start of the previous issue. Speaking of Hurt...
3 HE CAN TAKE A LOT OF PAIN
Inevitably, spending years getting beaten up by Batman will give you an extremely high tolerance for pain, especially if you're Batman's favorite thing to punch. As a matter of fact, despite getting shot in the face by a lunatic cop in a Batman outfit, right in-between the eyes – "where the soul resides" – at point-blank range in Batman #655, Joker survives.
The doctors stitch Joker up all wrong, giving him a Dark Knight-style grin. Frankly, this is the one most ridiculous throwing saves we've seen in Batman comics, and we're including that time Dr. Hurt shot Dick Grayson gangland style with a bullet that would slowly deteriorate his brain. Why didn't Hurt use a normal bullet? Because Batman villains thrive on being extra.
2 HE PAINTS HIS NAILS
While he traditionally uses an oversized carnation or hand-buzzer to deliver his name-brand venom, The Joker also enjoys envenoming his fingernails with Joker Venom nail polish. Acting as a perfect hidden weapon, as Joker himself is immune to his toxin, it takes just a scratch from Joker's nails to do the trick, turning you rigid and laughing like Damian Wayne in Batman & Robin #14. Even Batman fails to prepare for this cuticle carnage, falling victim to a special red and black themed poison painted on Joker's nails in Batman: R.I.P.
Alternatively, The Joker from Brian Azzarello's Joker graphic novel doesn't paint his nails. No, this Joker instead implements glass shards hastily embedded into his fingers as hidden blades.
1 HE ALWAYS GETS THE LAST LAUGH
Why doesn't Batman just off the Joker? In The Batman Who Laughs, the Batman of Earth-22 finally throttles The Joker. With his last breath, Joker infects Batman with a nanotoxin that rewires Batman's brain. This nanotoxin had been laying dormant near Joker's heart, only activated upon necrosis.
Batman informs the Bat-family of his condition, but it's already too late: "I brought you here because the four of you would notice something was wrong with me before anyone else would. And I'm sorry, but I can't allow that." The Batman Who Laughs then mows down his former sidekicks with dual uzis. He then conquers the world as a Joker/Batman/Cenobite-themed super-villain. So yeah, that's why Batman doesn't just off the Joker.