Thursday, December 1, 2011

How Old is Batman and Joker?

The "contemporary" age of Bruce Wayne is actually relatively easy to pinpoint. Wayne always had one age at which he stopped aging in the comic book continuity, one age that was given to him to last and be one of his defining physical characteristics. Lets start from the genesis of the character
Bob Kane mentioned in the late 1980's that he envisioned Bruce Wayne as being like young Cary Grant ( via BRT). Cary Grant was 35 in 1939 when Batman/Bruce Wayne was born creatively.


This is very much in line with Batman's age established in Modern continuity - 34.  Batman #599 states that Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered when Bruce was nine, nearly 25 years ago. That would make Bruce 34. 


One noticeable difference between the two continuities is that Modern Age I establishes that Bruce debuted as Batman at the age of 25, Year One in particular. So in contemporary timeline, Batman is purging crime from  Gotham City's streets for 9 years

IN THE MOVIES
BATMAN 

* At the time of the shoot Adam West was 38 and finished up at the age of 40, which would make him 4 years older than the comic book counterpart at the beginning of the series


BATMAN

* Michael Keaton was at the age of 38 when he was shooting the first Batman

BATMAN RETURNS

He was 41 at the time of Batman Returns



BATMAN FOREVER

* At the time of the Batman Forever shoot Val Kilmer was 36


BATMAN & ROBIN

* George Clooney was 36 at the time of the Batman & Robin shoot. It is interesting to note that at the time Clooney described Batman as being a "35 year old guy", whether it was a lucky guess or did DC supplied him with the info on the character is unknown.


BATMAN BEGINS

*At the time of the shoot for Batman Begins Bale was 30, making him the youngest actor to play the character in theatrical Batman movies, and making him 4 years younger than his comic book counterpart.


THE DARK KNIGHT

He was 34 on the shoot for The Dark Knight

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

and 37 for The Dark Knight Rises

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JOKER

 Joker's age is never directly mentioned in the comic books. The common notion is that Joker is much older than Wayne, probably stemming from the TV show and the 1989 movie, however it seems like they're the same age. The idea of Joker being older than Batman might also come from the fact that the artwork often depicted Joker as someone looking like an aged man in late 30's or early 40's, or the idea alone that he's a gangster and a leader of mobsters in the Golden and Silver eras, something that usually seasoned, older gangsters could be. 

Let's again start with the genesis of the character. Joker's appearance was based on Conrad Veidt's character from the movie "The Man Who Laughs", which is a nice way of saying that Bob Kane simply drew the character on paper without any changes. Kane was a self proclaimed copycat and the Joker was virtually the Veidt character with green hair



Conrad Veidt was 35 in "The Man Who Laughs" and since Joker was an on-paper depiction of the character from the movie, it was therefore depiction of a 35 year old man. 
This would also more or less match the Modern Age depiction of the character. So Batman was said to start his crime fighting career at the age of 25 and Joker fell into the chemicals shortly after Batman's first appearance when he was still a gasp inducing novelty. If he's the same age that Batman is, that would make him 25 by the time he made the jump which would match the physical depiction of the character and the story - in The Killing Joke the comedian (later in continuity named Jack) is depicted as a young man who is struggling to find a job and support his pregnant wife who's expecting their first baby. So then in contemporary timeline, 9 years later, Joker would also be 34/35 and that would match the original character.

IN THE MOVIES
BATMAN

* At the time of the shoot Cesar Romero was 59 and finished up at the age of 61, which would make him 24 years older than the comic book counterpart at the beginning of the series

BATMAN

* Jack Nicholson was 52 at the time of the Batman shoot, continuing the TV shows depiction of Joker as being much older than Batman. He was 17 years older than his comic book counterpart

THE DARK KNIGHT

* Heath Ledger was 29 at the time of The Dark Knight shoot. He was 6 years younger than his comic book counterpart

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19 comments:

  1. Interesting. Ever since I picked up my first Batman comic book I thought Joker is in his 50s and Im not sure if its just because of the TV show or the movie. He just seemed like it, idk why

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  2. Batman and Joker's are almost 80 years old in our reality.

    Batman's real time age: 70
    Joker's real time age: 71

    Mystery solved!

    Gothamstreets you do realize you disapproved yourself because seeing as you did put down in your ''changes to the movies'' blog that Joker was an 'old man' in the golden age, meaning he was much older than Batman.

    So this means the 89 film depiction of Joker being much older than Bat's should count as a difference in that blog. Although the shooting script claimed that he was a few years older than Bat's.

    Interesting note: Both Bob Kane and Tim Burton have stated that Wayne's parents were murdered at the age of 10.

    Bob Kane: ''When Bruce Wayne was 10 years old, his mother and dad were murdered coming out of the theater. This dramatic shock motivated him to become a vigilante. became, in his own way, as psychotic as the Joker, except the Joker fights against justice and for evil. They're mirror images of each other.'' (People, 1989)

    Tim Burton: ''I thought a lot about the character. I wanted to deal with understandable human issues. Loneliness is a big part of it. The kid's 10 years old and he sees something very bad happen and he shuts down. (Newsweek 1989)

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  3. Yes, I realize I made that goof about Joker's age before. It wasnt until I started digging into his age that I realized hes (most probably) Batman's age.

    As for the quotes Im familiar with them but both talk about Kanes Batman so its still a different era than the modern age Batman in which he was 9 at the time of the tragedy

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  4. The comic books (at least the ones I remember reading) specify that Bruce Wayne was eight years old when he saw his parents killed. He then spent 16 years training to be Batman, meaning that he most likely started his career as Batman sometime in his mid-twenties. This must be how old Michael Keaton's character is supposed to be in the movie, the more than 10-year gap notwithstanding.

    Now, the Joker. Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren's shooting script makes clear that Jack Napier was barely older than Bruce - still just a boy himself, really - when he shot Bruce's parents. For the sake of plausibility, let's say Jack was between 12 and 14 years of age. By the time he becomes the Joker, then, he'd be between 28 and 32 years of age. Why, exactly, they got 52-year-old Nicholson is a mystery, but it certainly wouldn't be unprecedented. There have been twentysomething movie characters played by fortysomething or older actors, so it does happen.

    Vicki Vale is probably pushing 30 when we see her, then.

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  5. I grew up watching the 60s Batman and looked at him as someone who was very fatherly.

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  6. Everyone is talking about the script mentioning Jokers age, can somebody post that part?

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  7. I guess that Batman must be like 41 or 42 normally and the Joker is probably somewhere between like 48 and 54 yers old.

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  8. On the Adam West show we are not seeing Batman at the start of his career. Its clear that Bruce has been Batman for awhile. All of the classic villains are known to the police and Batman and Robin. Not as their first appearances.

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    1. You are correct sir.

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  9. Watching baseball for years, people generally start to slow down around their mid 30's. Depending on who they are, they tend to peak in physical ability and skill at around 27 or 28. I always thought Batman as around 32. Its a perfect age. He's still physically capable, and hes old enough to not be a stupid young person. I think his age could span from 28-34. thos would be his best years age Batman, before he has to strap on a leg device to solve all of his age related problems like in The Dark KNight Rises

    I always think of the Joker as around 35-38. I love the animated series, so my vision of joker is always from that show. But i have no reason to think of his age the way it is. He could be 105 for all i care, as long as hes entertaining, then hes a good joker

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  10. Heath Ledger was not 29 at the time of The Dark Knight shoot. He was 28 when he died.

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  11. Youre right. he was 28. Bad math on my part

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  12. I always thought The Joker was younger than Batman, I don't really know why! I always see Batman as being 35-37 and Joker as being 25-29. I think the energy the Joker has just made me think he was younger than Bruce. In 'The Killing Joke' graphic novel, Joker doesn't look much older than when he was Jack (in the flashback scenes with his wife), and it seems that The Joker has only just appeared quite recently at the time the novel is set.
    Also, in The Dark Knight, The Joker isn't that big a name, as he was barely mentioned in Batman Begins, so he can't have been the joker for long previously, leading to (I presume) why I see him as younger...

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  13. thanks for the information it is really good

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  14. I always thought of the Joker as 34.I love the animated series,new batman adventures,and justice league so I always envision him that way.I always thought he must be older than Harley Quinn but not too old.
    Since Harley was about 27 to 28 when she met him and he had already been the Joker for a few years he must have been in his early thirties.Reading this makes me glad to have a backup for when I write in his age in my story about him and Harley.

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