Batman: The Telltale Series has given us an amazing story about the earliest years of the Caped Crusader. In this iteration of the Dark Knight, we get a look at a few individuals who will be pivotal in his future as a crime fighter, such as Carmine Falcone, Harvey Dent and Oswald Cobblepot. However, two crazies that are noticeably lacking are The Joker and Harley Quinn.
What were they doing? Are the Clown Prince of Crime and his lady love already running around Gotham? Is the Joker a solo act this early in his criminal career? Well, I have a few theories about their whereabouts and the connections to them the game may have already put in front of us so let's jump right into them:
The Game Has Shown Us A Precursor To Joker's Origin
The Joker's origin has been the most well-kept and confusing mysteries in DC's history. The only real dive into who the character was before he became a murderous psychopath came in an early 1940s issues and The Killing Joke, one of Batman's most celebrated stories to date.
In it, a broke and out-of-his-luck Joker is forced to pull a heist on the ACE Chemicals building. As we all know, Batman showed up and Joker fell into a vat of chemicals that turned him into the Clown Prince of Crime.
This is where I believe Telltale's Batman sets up that story. In the first episode, we find out that Falcone is trying to move a toxin that causes people to go insane and become extremely violent.
What if, after the events of the game, this toxin is eventually replicated in ACE Chemicals and it's the thing that the thugs Joker works with are after? Perhaps the vat of chemicals into which the Joker fell are that toxin that, because of the large quantity Joker was exposed to, has a more "stable" effect on his body. Considering Telltale's game is dealing with a much younger Batman and adversaries, it would be amazing for the story to connect to Joker's own origin that way.
The Joker Is Manufacturing Falcone's Toxin
Joker is an expert chemist. He created his own Joker Toxin, which kills people and leaves them with a smile on their faces. While this substance is fatal, it doesn't seem to have any effect on the Joker himself. Grant Morrison wrote an explanation for this:
"An avid consumer of his own chemical experiments, the Joker's immunity to poison concoctions that might kill another man in an instant has been developed over years of dedicated abuse."
Joker is immune to his own poison but for that he had to have been damaged by it at some point, just like when you have the flu, then get better and the virus doesn't affect you anymore.
So, what if the person creating this substance is The Joker before his transformation? Perhaps Joker became immune to such poisonous toxins because he worked on the compound that turns people insane and the exposure eventually took effect in his body.
It's possible that Telltale's Batman is taking a different approach to the origins of the Clown Prince of Crime and it would be a very welcome change in the villain's characterization: This way, he'd in the Caped Crusader's world but would not be the main antagonist.
Joker Is A Violent Thug Working For Carmine Falcone
The Joker doesn't have a set origin story, so several writers have given their own spin on his backstory. One in particular was created by Paul Dini and Alex Ross, in which Joker was presented as a violent gangster who becomes Red Hood in order to get a bigger thrill out of being a criminal.
In the Telltale game, it's established that Falcone's men are after a very dangerous toxin. If he's not the one manufacturing it, then could it be that Joker is part of his crew? At one point, there's a confrontation between Falcone's men and the GCPD: Maybe Joker was one of the thugs in the firefight or the aftermath and the toxin present in the game is his first exposure to chemicals.
What if, thanks to Batman examining the crime scene, Joker gets his first look at who will become his arch-nemesis, kicking off his obsession with the Caped Crusader? Wouldn't it be cooler to know Joker already had homicidal tendencies instead of going from an insecure comedian and loving husband to crazed killer overnight?
Harley Quinn Is Working As A Stripper
Joker working as a violent thug could open the door for a different introduction to another beloved character: Harley Quinn. In one of Harley Quinn's many origins, she was established as a psychology student working as a stripper to make ends meet.
So here's my theory that ties to the one above: Joker, being a gangster working for Carmine, meets Harley as a stripper. Because of her insecurities, the girl slowly falls for him. There's some room to play with Joker's transformation later on but I don't want to make this too out-there.
In this situation, the essence of Joker and Harley's original story is there and, considering the different approach Telltale is taking with Batman, an option like this is quite plausible.
Joker Is The Leader Of The Red Hood Gang
The Red Hood Gang was introduced in Batman: Zero Year as a group of criminals bringing terror to Gotham City. They used the Wayne murders as an inspiration to instill fear in citizens and making them believe their lives were worthless. Joker was involved with the gang.
This group is already deeply tied to the Wayne family, a subject Telltale's Batman is tackling head on. Having the Waynes involved in a scandal as big as being connected to the mob could draw out the Red Hood Gang to take over the people of Gotham.
Now the city's biggest role models' reputations are tarnished, which is a great opportunity for the Red Hood Gang to be lurking somewhere.
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An aspect of the Joker that is often times glossed over is his rise to power. What did he go through to build a reputation that has even the most brutal criminals scared of him? This is not only a very awesome possibility but would give us a new look at the Clown Prince of Crime's origin, particularly the posse of henchmen that always surround him.
Harley Is A Struggling Psychologist Inspired By Batman And Catwoman
A staple of Harley Quinn is her unstable mind even before meeting Joker. In the comics she comes from a very dysfunctional family and she wasn't always the best student. She's shown in the comic book Mad Love seducing a teacher for an A.
If Joker is still trying to rise through the ranks during Telltale's Batman, most likely Harley Quinn is years away from becoming one of the reasons Batman has bags under his eyes. However, it would be very interesting to tie the events of this game to her origin story.
Maybe Harley saw the Batman/Catwoman craziness unfold in City Hall and this encouraged her to accept the more... peculiar side of her personality. Of course she doesn't turn into a full-blown villain until she meets Joker but seeing a pair of costumed people fighting on rooftops could be a jumping off point for her future.
There's One Thing For Sure: Joker And Harley Quinn Are Out There In Telltale's Batman
Joker is one of the staples of Batman's world. It's incredibly difficult to find a Batman adaptation without the criminal mastermind appearing in some form of another. Given his years of existence, it's easier to think where he might be during the video game's storyline.
This is different for Harley Quinn though, as when dealing with the story of a younger Batman, we can assume that Harley is possibly taking her first steps in life to become the deranged criminal we all (sort of) love.
Will we get hints of them as more episodes of the series roll out? It's possible. Will we see the deranged duo in action? I wouldn't hold my breath in this episode but I am sure of one thing: The Joker and Harley are out there somewhere, waiting for their opportunity to destroy Batman's world once again.
Where do you think The Joker and Harley Quinn were during Telltale's Batman?