The character of Joker will always remain one of the most controversial creations. Whenever the debate on the character takes place, we often find the audience getting divided on their opinions. Often being misunderstood, the clown has been put into ‘grey shaded’ or ‘villain’ categories.
Just like his persona, there are extremely mixed opinions on the character’s origin too. As far as the majority of the section knows, Joker was introduced into the comics’ world in 1940. The trio of Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson brought the supervillain to life. Digging more into the history of the iconic creation, today we’ll be taking a look at the real inspiration behind clown face.
Joker has its history tracing to 1928’s film ‘The Man Who Laughs‘ and its character Gwynplaine played by Conrad Veidt. Directed by Paul Leni, the silent romantic drama is mostly remembered for Gwynplaine’s Glasgow smile. Veidt nailed the character to perfection. Most importantly, his slick back hairstyle and freaky smiling face provided inspiration for DC Comics’ legendary figure.
Even though the creators have often described Joker to be their own invention, they had agreed of being influenced by Gwynplaine’s look.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in 1994, Bob Kane had said, “Bill Finger and I created the Joker. Bill was the writer. Jerry Robinson came to me with a playing card of the Joker. That’s the way I sum it up. … Bill Finger had a book with a photograph of Conrad Veidt and showed it to me and said, ‘Here’s the Joker.’ Jerry Robinson had absolutely nothing to do with it. But he’ll always say he created it till he dies. He brought in a playing card, which we used for a couple of issues for him [the Joker] to use as his playing card.”
We are thankful of Paul Leni and Conrad Veidt for that freaky smile!