Little did this simple crook with an eye for the dramatic know that one day his whimsical idea to wear purple suits and grin that piano-style smile would encourage such a strong following?
From his first appearance in 1940, The Joker‘s ghastly grin (inspired by the genuinely creepy movie ‘The Man Who Laughed’), was the stuff that nightmares are made from.
But what would the Clown Prince of Crime be without his henchmen?
In the 40′s artist Dick Sprang (the creator of the Riddler and the 1960′s Batman TV Show credits) drew the Joker‘s henchmen as looking like clowns themselves. Less of a terror and more of a mob imitation of the Joker‘s likeness, the henchmen fought the Caped Crusader Batman and his sidekick Robin in warehouses, museums and other such locations too numerous to count up till present day.
In the 1989 Tim Burton Batman film, Bob the Goon (played by character actor Tracey Walter of Repo Man and ‘Frog’ from Best of the West), was simply a scruffy looking crook in a bomber jacket bearing the Joker‘s face as a patch (where do you get that kinda thing done?).
Not exactly a character with much ‘pizazz’ but the first action figure of the Joker‘s goon to be made!
In the cartoon Batman the Animated Series, the Joker was assisted by the robotic Captain Clown and a number of obese and skinny men dressed in tights to fight alongside him. Definitely upsetting, but more in an unpleasant way.
The cartoon series set in the far future of Gotham, Batman Beyond, spotlighted the Joker as less of a villain and more of an idea (much in the same way that Matt Wagner approached the concept of evil with his Comico series Grendel). Gangs of bored kids called themselves Jokerz (with a ‘z,’ yes) and attacked the citizens of Gotham with rubber chickens and such.
Jump forward to 2008 and here’s our first shot at the Joker‘s gang from the forthcoming Chris Nolan film, ‘The Dark Knight.’ Now THIS is a step in the right direction. Truly terrifying yet simple, the henchman look appears to be men donned in a simple carnival mask that will surely haunt kiddies (and hang on reduced sale racks in comic shops) for years to come.
Word is that the sequel to Batman Begins will also be the first feature film to be partly shot in the IMAX format (so far the plan is that four action sequences including the intro of the Joker will be filmed in the wall-filling format).
“There’s simply nothing like seeing a movie that way,” Nolan says. “It’s more immersive for the audience. I wish I could shoot the entire thing this way.”
This will give the film a very unique look on regular and IMAX screens.
2008 cannot come soon enough!
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