- “And ignore the fact that what you saw those tiny pupils do was expand. Expand for you after you stared back long enough. Ignore the fact that what you saw those black points expand with… was love.”
- — Death of the Family (Batman, describing the Joker looking at him)
Throughout their 80 years of history together, the relationship between Batman and the Joker has been present in a vast amount of Batman content. Their relationship often includes the Joker engaging in illegal mischief to varying degrees of villainy, Batman stopping him through detective work and physical fights, and then returning him to Arkham Asylum, where he inevitably escapes and the cycle continues.
Despite the damage the Joker causes, Batman has never failed to save his life or prevent him from receiving capital punishment (See below: examples in Death of the Family, Batman: White Knight, etc.). The two men are canonically obsessed with each other, a fact criticized by the other people in both men’s lives and explored in numerous series.
In fact, in alternate timelines the Joker and Batman are still together, once as opposite personas (The villain Owlman and the hero the Jokester) and in Flashpoint, as a married couple (Thomas Wayne becomes Batman and Martha Wayne becomes the Joker when Bruce is killed in the alleyway instead).Throughout their many incarnations, the Joker regularly taunts Batman with innuendo, flirtation, and even outright romantic overtures. He regularly calls Batman “Darling” and “Batsy.” On multiple occasions it has been clearly stated that Joker is in love with Batman (see: Catwoman #14). A large portion of the Joker's identity is shaped by his obsession with Batman. Batman often ignores Joker’s flirtation, but on several occasions, he has stated that he cares for the Joker and has called him a friend.
- “I’m just going to rest here a little while with my friend.”
- — Batman in Endgame
The Killing Joke
Batman: The Killing Joke is a 1988 DC Comics one-shot graphic novel featuring the characters Batman and the Joker written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland.
The Killing Joke also acts as an origin-story for the Joker, solidifying his origin as being intertwined with and partially caused by Batman. This comic book encapsulates many of the tropes commonly assigned to the relationship between Batman and the Joker in both canon and fanon. Bruce’s obsession with the Joker is seen throughout the story. Additionally, this story cements the idea that Batman and the Joker are more alike than is ever said aloud, as further explored in in the Snyder arc titled Death of the Family.The Killing Joke tells a story that includes some of the Joker’s more atrocious crimes, yet remarkably at the end of the story, Batman still offers the Joker a chance for redemption.
- “I don't want to hurt you. I don't want either of us to end up killing the other [...] It doesn't have to end like that. I don't know what it was that bent your life out of shape, but who knows? Maybe I've been there too. We could work together. I could rehabilitate you. You needn't be out there on the edge any more. You needn't be alone.”
- — Batman in The Killing Joke
LiveJournal user vibishan in their Batman/Joker analysis, “But despite the fact that Joker outright rejects the idea of changing, even though this keeps them on their inevitable collision course, even though Joker is as good as promising to keep killing people, Bruce is still there, reveling in the company of the only person quite as broken as he is, and laughing at his joke.”
This comic cements the complicated connection between these two characters that is evident throughout many other comic book series.
Death of the Family
- “In Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's "Death Of The Family," which Snyder called a "love letter to Batman from Joker," Joker describes their battles as "dances," calls Batman "darling" and refers to himself as "yours" during their interactions, echoing his flamboyant, love-lorn portrayal in "Batman: A Death In The Family," which Snyder's story pays homage to, if only in name.”
- — Journalist Hannah Collins
- “That’s what this is about. Reminding you of the love we share, you and I!”
- — The Joker, Death of the Family
The Joker then goes on to explain (in a somewhat meta fashion) that it is only with the Joker, and other villains, that Batman becomes immortal (“With us, you’re always.”) and that the Batfamily “make you everything you want to forget that you are.” He says they essentially make him weak and mortal, but that he is here to rescue Batman from this, by killing them all for him.
- “You don’t have to be afraid anymore, don't you see? Because Joker's here now! Your favorite! Your dearest one! He carried out your orders and he's here to rescue you, finally, from this nightmare. So let's do it, shall we?! It's the kind thing, after all. You know it is. Like this, while they're together. Now, just take my hand and we'll put the kiddies to bed once and for all. And together, you and I will go raise some hell!”
- — The Joker, Death of the Family
Batman tries to tell Joker that he “broke the spell” by finding out the Joker’s real name. Joker responds “You won’t! They’re not your real family. We are! I am!” and “In the end, the real end, the only ones left will be you… and me. It’s tr-“ but Bruce begins to reveal what he knows.
- “Come a little closer so I can whisper it right into your ear… darling.”
- — Batman, Death of the Family
- “I knew there was never any chance that he'd gotten into the cave. I knew it because I know him. Know him better than I want to admit. But there's...there's no way to tell him that, Alfred, is there? No way to explain that I did let him in, but only to try to end it, to try…”
- — Bruce Wayne, Death of the Family (Print Version)
Bruce hopes that the rest of the family knows the Joker was wrong, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Tim, Dick, Jason, Damian, and Barbara all avoid Bruce. When Bruce asks Dick what the Joker said to them before he arrived, as the Joker claimed he was “telling them what you really think of them” Dick says that the Joker said nothing. The fact of Bruce’s concern over this shows that there might be some truth to what the Joker said in the caves that the rest of the family is beginning to believe as much as Bruce denies it.
- “I think it’s canon in Snyder’s run, with the caveat that “love” is a bigger idea in those stories than it might be under another writer. It encapsulates both romantic love and the possessive violence that the Joker uses to express that love. Snyder doesn’t differentiate between the two; it’s not a question that interests the Joker, so the narrative frames his love as legitimate regardless of his behavior.”
- — Tumblr User Joons on Batjokes in Death of the Family
Batman: Endgame is a six-issue comic book story arc first published by DC Comics in 2014, which shows the events following the Joker’s return after his disappearance in Death of the Family. DC Comics provides a synopsis, writing, “For years, The Joker has regarded Batman with a sick, twisted love. But now, the Clown Prince of Crime is done playing. He’s going to kill Batman.”
The final fight between the two men features many allusions to that twisted love. The Joker, as he has done numerous times in the past, uses the metaphor of a dance partner to describe the fights between the two of them, saying “Besides, we’ve worn out the floor you and me… the twists and turns… the familiar leaps and dipsss.”The fight is brutal and exhausting, and leaves both men laying in a pool of their mingling blood, which spreads out like a heart underneath them. Joker describes the “knife in the heart” that was Batman’s decision in Death of the Family to reject Joker and choose his family instead.
- “I could have made you forever, just like you always wanted! My blood, this… I could have saved you! This could have had a happy ending!”
- — The Joker, Endgame
After Batman and the Joker are assumed dead, Alfred reveals that the Joker’s mistake was offering Batman a happy ending that doesn’t end in death because “the story of Batman is, and always will be, a tragedy” and that Bruce valued his mortality.
In fact, Bruce’s final note after his supposed death again shows his connection with the Joker. It says only, “Ha” and the last frame of the comic is a mirror to the final frame of Death of the Family, where the Joker’s last clue for Batman after his death is the same message, “Ha.”
OutsidersNotably, in Volume 3 Issue 3 of this comic series, Lex Luthor manages to silence and enrage the Joker, a difficult feat, by saying Batman won't ever love the Joker.
- “Does it bother you… bother you at all, really… that Batman likes Catwoman better. He’ll never love you, sweetheart! You can keep screwing with his city, but he’s never gonna take you to the prom!”
- — Lex Luthor to Joker, Outsiders Volume 3 Issue 3
The War of Jokes and RiddlesThe War of Jokes and Riddles is a 2017 eight-part Batman storyline written by Tom King and illustrated by Mikel Janín, featuring the war between the Joker and the Riddler during Batman's second year.Joker’s main goals regarding Batman change throughout the comics. Sometimes his main goal is to get Batman to murder someone, proving they’re “The same”), but this is not always the case.
The War of Jokes and Riddles is about a war between Joker and the Riddler supposedly over who has the right to kill Batman, but in reality, it is all a scheme of the Riddler to figure out how to make the Joker laugh, which he hasn’t been able to do recently. At the end of the series the Joker actually prevents Batman from killing the Riddler, and as Bruce puts it “saved me” and this is what allows him to laugh again.
“The crux of this storyline takes place in Batman’s first year. In that time, Joker and Batman’s relationship hadn’t fully formed. However, it’s likely that Joker already sensed Batman’s significance in his life, but couldn’t quite grasp it. That explains the Joker’s depression and his newfound giddiness when he “saves” Batman. Joker didn’t want Batman to destroy himself because then his favorite plaything would be gone. I believe at the moment Joker put his hand in front of that knife, he suddenly understood who he and Batman would be to each other — and so did Batman. The Joker is able to laugh again because his purpose is suddenly clear: make Batman whole.”
Batman: White Knight
Batman: White Knight is a comic book limited series created by Sean Murphy and the first installment of the Murphyverse. The series spans eight issues and was published monthly in 2017 and 2018 by DC Comics.
One news story released about the release of Batman: White Knight was titled “Batman Comic Depicting Joker As Gay And In Love With The Caped Crusader Is Among 2018’s Top-Sellers.”
Batman: White Knight is another comic book series that focuses on the importance of the relationship between Batman and the Joker to both men, and the consequences that relationship has for Gotham city. In this story, the Joker has reformed and become Jack Napier, a politician who views Batman as Gotham’s greatest villain and works with the GCPD to take him down.The series begins with Batman chasing Joker through Gotham, while Joker flirts and Batman fights.
- “I had to know you. Anything to be with you. Even if it meant being your nemesis. At least we were close. Gave me a chance to know you like no other. You hated me, and I loved it. Because love and hate are the same.”
- — Joker to Batman, Batman: White Knight
Harley's statement that the Joker is in love with Batman is said as the comic shows us her sitting in bed waiting for Joker, while Joker kneels in a shrine to Batman.
- “To him, Gotham was a warm, glowing light. And all he wanted to do was hold it to his chest for a moment… long enough for Batman to notice… just so he could give it back.”
- — Marian Drews about the Joker, Batman: White Knight
- Jack – “You should have let me drown. I would have died a hero.”
- Batman – “I’d never let that happen.”
- Jack – “You letting me die, or you letting me be a hero?”
- Batman – “Pick one.”
- — Batman: White Knight
Harley Quinn (DC Animated Television Show: 2019-)
Season 1 Episode 1: Til Death Do Us Part
The series premiere is about Harley remembering the truth about her relationship with Joker. While she starts out convinced that Joker truly loves her, Ivy sets up a trap that forces Joker to choose who falls into a vat of acid: Batman or Harley. Harley expects him to save her life but he chooses to save Batman and they run away together as Harley falls into the acid. It is then that she starts realizes the truth of her romanticized memories of Joker. What Harley originally remembered as Joker offering her an engagement ring and saying “Til death do us part” was actually saying that to Batman while handing her a grenade. As Harley sees Batman she says, “It was him all along, wasn’t it? It’s always been him. Joker never loved me. He only loves Batman.”
Season 1 Episode 4: Finding Mr. Right
This entire episode plays off the “joke” that a superhero’s arch enemy is akin to a romantic partner. This joke is also heavily used in The Lego Batman Movie to imply a relationship between Batman and the Joker. This idea is heavily emphasized through the use of a Find-a-Nemesis.com profile where you can match with potential enemies, as well as the celebrity talk show “Tawny?” where Robin describes the moment when Harley “asked me to be her nemesis” and the audience cheers. The news title says, “HARLEY AND ROBIN SITTING IN A TREE - N-E-M-E-S-I-S.”
Harley, in her search for an A-List nemesis kidnaps Robin live on Tawny? in order to lure Batman into a fight with her. At the same time Joker is robbing a bank. He walks out, arms open wide, laughing as he says, “Bring it on Bats. Bats?” He is very disappointed when Batman does not arrive and says, “This is no fun.” When shown the video of Batman and Harley fighting live on Tawny?, Joker says, “Oh, what the hell?” He shows up to the fight shortly thereafter and says, “Harley! What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Are you trying to steal my Batman?” The news title now reads “NEMESIS LOVE TRIANGLE - BAT-JOKE-LEY??” and Tawny asks, “Batman, Joker seems to claim you as his nemesis but you came here to fight Harley […] Which one is it?” Joker answers her, “Me! I’m his, he’s mine. I mean, we’re together. Ha!” The news title now reads “JOKER: HARLEY STOLE MY MAN!” Subtext? I don’t know her.
Batman: The Telltale Series
Director and Creative Lead Kent Mudle of Telltale, Inc. responded to a question regarding John’s (the Joker’s) sexuality in the Batman: The Telltale Series video game: “We treated him as bi in the script. In the villain path you can see he cares about both Bruce and Harley almost equally (slight preference for Bruce), but his attempts to love both of them just fall apart due to their conflicting goals. I bet he’d be thrilled if he could actually make some kind of three way relationship work and get EVERYTHING he wants.”
Joker (Brian Azzarello)
- By the end of the novel, the narrator - Jonny Frost - states that there's no other cure for Joker than Batman.
This section is in need of major improvement. Please help improve this article by editing it.
BatJokes is one of the most popular ships in the DC fandom. The ship sails so strongly because of the Joker's obsession with Batman and the interesting, ambiguous relationship between the characters.
On AO3 it is the 4th most written ship in the Batman - All Media Types and Batman: The Animated Series tags; as well as the 1st most written pairing for Joker and the 3rd for Bruce.
|SHIPS||het||BatCat • BBRae • Clois • Green Canary • Harleypool • Jarley • Robstar • TrigElla • Wondertrev|
|slash||BatJokes • Boostle • RiddleBird • Superbat • Vicroman • DamiJon • Constantshark|