Does DC's the Joker character have superhuman powers?

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blewis17

Sr Member
I have never followed the Batman / Joker history in the comics... only the 1960s camp Batman TV show and various films since 1989. While I understand that falling into a vat of chemicals gave the Joker his characteristic white skin and criminally insane personality... did it also give him super human strength, endurance, and healing powers? Seems like the Joker has certainly taken his lumps over the years, but he is no martial arts trained Bruce Wayne and yet he has survived what should have been (countless) fatal falls, punches, kicks, hits, explosions, head trauma, internal hemorrhage, etc. Heck, he even peeled off his own face and then stapled it back on, right?!

Is he merely human, or is the Joker endowed with super powers from his swim in the chemical bath? Is there an in universe explanation other than "he needs to survive this story" how the Joker is not missing all of his teeth, hair, both eyes, a limb or two, etc? (Yes, I know he has occasionally "died" in film and comics, at various points along the way).
 

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Michael Bergeron

Legendary Member
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I know there was a comic story where all the DC characters were in this universe where they were robbed of their powers. In that story the Joker was sane. So I suppose insanity could be considered his superpower, complete disregard for everything, including a self preservation instinct.
 

Psab keel

Master Member
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I always thought of his "superpower" to be his cunning intellect. I say that in quotation marks because like Batman, he's not embued with any other powers other than just being naturally very smart with no supernatural or chemical enhancements to speak of. For all of his sociopathic behavior he knows exactly what he's doing and is always ten steps ahead of everyone else. Often by the time everyone else catches up the damage has already been done.

This foresight and expert planning is equally as dangerous as his desire for chaos. These two core ingredients were missing from Joaquin Phoenix's Joker. I liked the movie but in many ways it was so far removed from makes the character distinct as a villain.
 

Usagi Pilgrim

Sr Member
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I always thought of his "superpower" to be his cunning intellect. I say that in quotation marks because like Batman, he's not embued with any other powers other than just being naturally very smart with no supernatural or chemical enhancements to speak of. For all of his sociopathic behavior he knows exactly what he's doing and is always ten steps ahead of everyone else. Often by the time everyone else catches up the damage has already been done.

This foresight and expert planning is equally as dangerous as his desire for chaos. These two core ingredients were missing from Joaquin Phoenix's Joker. I liked the movie but in many ways it was so far removed from makes the character distinct as a villain.
I think it's truly a combination of both, his intellect & his insanity. For years, inventors, scientists, military leaders, etc, have come up with various ways of solving problems, yet due to moral or societal values, those ideas haven't been able to be implemented (& probably shouldn't have). Then you have a character like the Joker, who can do whatever he wants because he possesses the smarts without the morals that keep most of society in check, & from his perspective, we're the ones who are insane, because we can't do what looks like needs to be done.
 

Gimpdiggity

Sr Member
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I always thought of his "superpower" to be his cunning intellect. I say that in quotation marks because like Batman, he's not embued with any other powers other than just being naturally very smart with no supernatural or chemical enhancements to speak of. For all of his sociopathic behavior he knows exactly what he's doing and is always ten steps ahead of everyone else. Often by the time everyone else catches up the damage has already been done.

This foresight and expert planning is equally as dangerous as his desire for chaos. These two core ingredients were missing from Joaquin Phoenix's Joker. I liked the movie but in many ways it was so far removed from makes the character distinct as a villain.

I always kind of thought that the reason that they didn’t give him any “powers” was because Batman also didn’t have any “powers.” So you had Joker, exactly as you say with his incredible intelligence, matched up against Batman with his detective skills and money. I like that about these two characters, because it brings a little bit of believability to it...

I also agree with you about Phoenix’s Joker. I enjoyed the movie a lot...but I have issues believing that THAT Joker would be able to even try to go toe to toe with any version of Batman that we know of. I mean...it seems like that Joker would’ve just been a punching bag for Batman, unless I really missed something in the film?
 

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Psab keel

Master Member
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Arthur came across more as a victim of circumstance, abuse, and neglect than as any type of mastermind. I kept thinking of Michael Douglas from Falling Down, where a man is just pushed to their breaking point and unleashes unbridled fury.

The dynamic between Batman and Joker is easily of the best rivalries in fiction as far as I'm concerned.
 

Usagi Pilgrim

Sr Member
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Arthur came across more as a victim of circumstance, abuse, and neglect than as any type of mastermind. I kept thinking of Michael Douglas from Falling Down, where a man is just pushed to their breaking point and unleashes unbridled fury.

The dynamic between Batman and Joker is easily of the best rivalries in fiction as far as I'm concerned.
I've not seen all of JOKER, but could you see the Phoenix portrayal becoming more of the comic Joker after a Batman shows up on the scene?

Kinda like, he languishes in his existence, pretty much without purpose, until someone like Batman finally comes along, & then Fleck finally sees someone worthy of his brilliance & obsession.
 

Michael Bergeron

Legendary Member
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I've not seen all of JOKER, but could you see the Phoenix portrayal becoming more of the comic Joker after a Batman shows up on the scene?

Kinda like, he languishes in his existence, pretty much without purpose, until someone like Batman finally comes along, & then Fleck finally sees someone worthy of his brilliance & obsession.

Fleck isn't brilliant, but he is obsessive to an extreme. His confidence only comes when he's in a delusional state. It's hard to see him becoming the criminal mastermind that we often associate with the Joker... BUT, if he completely falls into his delusions like it seems he has by the end of the film then you could potentially see him as growing in that regard. Hard to say. Joker was an origin story and was never really even billed as "THE Joker".
 

Psab keel

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
If he'd been established as brilliant but his intelligence was stifled by his medication then perhaps, but as it stands I don't see it as being a believable progression for the character. The Joker is more than just a crazy person in clown get up. In this take he was a nobody who gets pushed around by everything and everyone and when he's sick of being abused and ignored he goes berserk. Which isn't who the Joker is. The Joker is usually the one in control and everyone around him is going nuts because of his actions.

It's an interesting take as a character study and a great performance by Phoenix, but for me it's too far removed to really be considered the same character as the one from the Batman stories. Far from bad, it's just that I can't reconcile them being the same person in my mind.
 

Gimpdiggity

Sr Member
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If he'd been established as brilliant but his intelligence was stifled by his medication then perhaps, but as it stands I don't see it as being a believable progression for the character. The Joker is more than just a crazy person in clown get up. In this take he was a nobody who gets pushed around by everything and everyone and when he's sick of being abused and ignored he goes berserk. Which isn't who the Joker is. The Joker is usually the one in control and everyone around him is going nuts because of his actions.

It's an interesting take as a character study and a great performance by Phoenix, but for me it's too far removed to really be considered the same character as the one from the Batman stories. Far from bad, it's just that I can't reconcile them being the same person in my mind.

I agree with this 100%. I didn’t feel that Arthur was portrayed as being some kind of misunderstood genius...in fact, they made him out to be a bit of a buffoon. I don’t think I felt once in the film that “This guy is smart.”

It’s definitely an interesting character study, and again I enjoyed it a lot...but if you took out the Joker name and just had it about some downtrodden comedian who ends up losing it, I feel like it would still be a solid character study...but I stand by my idea that there is no way THIS Joker would ever be able to match wits, or fists, with Batman.
 

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Usagi Pilgrim

Sr Member
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Fleck isn't brilliant, but he is obsessive to an extreme. His confidence only comes when he's in a delusional state. It's hard to see him becoming the criminal mastermind that we often associate with the Joker... BUT, if he completely falls into his delusions like it seems he has by the end of the film then you could potentially see him as growing in that regard. Hard to say. Joker was an origin story and was never really even billed as "THE Joker".
If he'd been established as brilliant but his intelligence was stifled by his medication then perhaps, but as it stands I don't see it as being a believable progression for the character. The Joker is more than just a crazy person in clown get up. In this take he was a nobody who gets pushed around by everything and everyone and when he's sick of being abused and ignored he goes berserk. Which isn't who the Joker is. The Joker is usually the one in control and everyone around him is going nuts because of his actions.

It's an interesting take as a character study and a great performance by Phoenix, but for me it's too far removed to really be considered the same character as the one from the Batman stories. Far from bad, it's just that I can't reconcile them being the same person in my mind.
I agree with this 100%. I didn’t feel that Arthur was portrayed as being some kind of misunderstood genius...in fact, they made him out to be a bit of a buffoon. I don’t think I felt once in the film that “This guy is smart.”

It’s definitely an interesting character study, and again I enjoyed it a lot...but if you took out the Joker name and just had it about some downtrodden comedian who ends up losing it, I feel like it would still be a solid character study...but I stand by my idea that there is no way THIS Joker would ever be able to match wits, or fists, with Batman.
Thanks for the replies!

Seems like everyone is in agreement...

Brilliant performance.
Brilliant character study.
Not the Batman's Joker.
 

CB2001

Master Member
In most realities: No, he has no powers.

In one reality, he stole the powers from some god-like short being, making himself a god and altered reality where all the superheroes were considered criminals and Joker would constantly kill Batman and then bring him back to life so he could kill him again. And he ends up killing Harley by turning her into a constellation in the night's sky. Yep, that was a weird story.
 

Psab keel

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
In the comic world Batman and Joker are the most grounded in the sense that neither have extraordinary powers. It's probably why I relate to them more than any other character in the genre because they are reflections of our best and worst as humans without the fantastic elements shared by so many of their contemporaries. Superpowers are a great metaphorical story telling device and symbolically they can used to great effect, but the stark contrast to its use is the magnification of internal struggles that pit the fundamental human desires for chaos and order against one another.

This examination, to me, often has far more story potential than some of the more fantastical elements of the superhero genre which is why Batman: The Animated Series still holds up as being one of the pinnacle examples.
 

ScourgiousJinx

Well-Known Member
Superpowers can definitely be entertaining but sometimes the characters with them are too god-like and even with their tragic flaws could still easily wipe out their opposition without batting an eye. The fact that god-like characters don't becomes less believable even with the explanations, situations and faults presented in the stories. The Joker/Batman conflict is more interesting/relatable because it's human and as farcical as it can be is still much closer to reality.
 
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HMSwolfe

Sr Member
In the comic world Batman and Joker are the most grounded in the sense that neither have extraordinary powers. It's probably why I relate to them more than any other character in the genre because they are reflections of our best and worst as humans without the fantastic elements shared by so many of their contemporaries. Superpowers are a great metaphorical story telling device and symbolically they can used to great effect, but the stark contrast to its use is the magnification of internal struggles that pit the fundamental human desires for chaos and order against one another.

This examination, to me, often has far more story potential than some of the more fantastical elements of the superhero genre which is why Batman: The Animated Series still holds up as being one of the pinnacle examples.
The (relative) grounded nature is one of the many reasons why I think Batman is one of the most popular and long-lasting comic heroes. I’d honestly say it’s a similar case with Spider-Man, although less the idea of powers and more the very human struggles and problems he faces.

And Batman: The Animated Series is a damn fine piece of work that is still the greatest all-around depiction of Batman to me.
 

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