During the DC FanDome, the folks at DC showed panels and pieces about many of their characters. One such piece was part of a 2020 Documentary about their quintessential villain, The Joker. In the documentary, Joker: Put on a Happy Face, the history of the character was discussed. In addition, the many people who have played the character were explored.

The Origins of the Joker

This is a marvelous look at the character’s origins.  As well as the  evolution the Joker has went through during his 80 years of existence. Created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson, Joker first appeared in the debut issue of  Batman (April 25, 1940).

He was thought to be a bit character and actually was supposed to be killed off. But fans thought otherwise, so an additional panel was added, saving him. Because of that, 80 years later, the Clown Prince of Crime still reigns supreme.


The Evolution  of the Joker

The documentary also examines the thoughts that went in to the character’s creation from co-creator Jerry Robinson. It was also discussed how the institution of the Comics Code Authority played a role in shaping the Joker early on.

Once those limitations were slackened, the Joker began to take on a more sinister tone. Under artists such as Neal Adams, the character’s look also evolved with a more elongated form. This included a more pronounced chin and a bad attitude. Later, works like Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight pushed the character even further toward the dark side.

In addition to the Joker’s comic evolutions, the documentary also looks at those who have played the iconic villain on film and television. From Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Jared Leto, Cameron Monaghan and Joachin Phoenix. They examined how each actor approached the role.

The Joker’s Voice

Besides his appearance on film, the documentary also includes those who voices in animation and video games brought the Batman’s greatest foe to life. Unsurprisingly, prominent in the animation and gaming side is the work of Mark Hamill and his iconic representation of the Joker. Hamill talked about his approach and those whose work he followed such as Larry Storch, Brent Spiner, and others.

Why you should watch this

If you are a fan of the Clown Prince of Crime, this is a great way to learn about the origins of the 80 year old character. As well as learn how he has evolved into perhaps the greatest villain in comic book history. Joker: Put on a Happy Face can be found on AppleTV.

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