Batman is known for many things and while he’s a superhero of many skills, he’s notably a legendary detective and has intuitive talents that are just as precise as his physical abilities. This means that Batman is usually smarter than the foes that he faces, but this isn’t always the case. The Joker is a villain that’s famous not only for his insanity and nonsense, but because he occasionally manifests a plan that’s so bizarre that it can’t be cracked by the World’s Greatest Detective.
The Joker has gotten one up on Batman more times than the Caped Crusader would probably like to admit, but he’s not the only one. Plenty of Batman’s allies and other heroes from the DC Universe have been caught in the Joker’s cross-hairs and come out the loser in the situation. Accordingly, Here Are 17 Heroes The Joker Outsmarted (Who Weren’t Batman).
The popular Emperor Joker storyline involves the Joker gaining the ability to alter reality when he persuades Mr. Mxyzptl to give him some of his powers. With these, the Joker creates a new world where he’s the king, all of the Justice League are wanted criminals, and other villains are revered. Superman is particularly stumped by what’s going on, but eventually figures things out, even if Batman is stuck in a never-ending death cycle through all of this.
16 Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman #96-7 present a particularly edgy Wonder Woman story, even for her tumultuous period during the ‘90s. The main event of the comics deals with Diana’s attempts to thwart an escalating gang war in Boston, but once the Joker becomes involved, things take a rather sinister turn. The Joker administers some of his Joker insanity toxin on Wonder Woman and drives her as mad as he is. It’s a bonkers departure for Diana, but when she eventually regains her senses, the Joker has accomplished even more damage.
In one particularly outrageous storyline, the Joker flees from Batman and hides out in Atlantis, which he manages to completely con into treating him like a king. Joker tells them that he's the King of the Surface and that he's there to help them with their poisoned fish problems. Of course, Joker just takes advantage of Atlantis' population and drives Aquaman crazy in the process, all while he has to tolerate and watch him get away with it all.
14 The Atom
Ray Palmer’s The Atom has the best of intentions when he goes all Fantastic Voyage and ventures inside the Joker’s head to cure him when he’s on his deathbed. Palmer quickly finds himself overwhelmed when the vicious memories of the Joker’s past attack him. After ostensibly experiencing what the Joker has, Palmer nearly goes insane himself. This simple good deed nearly takes out the hero.
13 Booster Gold
Booster Gold #5 is one of the best issues of the time traveling hero’s series because it features Booster trying to reverse the events of the controversial Killing Joke. It’s a brilliant idea to try to undo one of DC’s biggest tragedies, but the superhero quickly—and repeatedly—learns that he can’t save Barbara and always winds up dead himself. Booster Gold learns the hard way that certain events in time cannot be changed and he is forced to repeatedly witness the Joker’s success.
12 The Teen Titans
Titans East Special features an interesting team-up between the Joker and Bizarro Superman that involves the kidnapping of a famous singer in order to spring the adolescent crime fighters into action. Bizarro Superman takes on half of the Titans and even though the Joker is still outnumbered, he surprisingly holds his own due to his cunning and his insanity. Raven uses her powers to bring the Joker’s worst nightmares to life, but such a thing only amuses the lunatic. Another smart ploy sees him outsmart Kid Flash with a bomb and if it weren’t for some convenient Blue Kryptonite, the Joker would have had this one.
11 James Gordon
The Joker puts Commissioner Gordon through so much in The Killing Joke, but he doesn't stop his abuse there. In No Man's Land, he sets his sights on Gordon's wife, Sarah, to make the man's abuse even greater. The Joker's plan revolves around a number of babies who have been taken hostage and sadly ends with Sarah's execution in front of them all. This nearly makes Gordon snap and he struggles to hold back when he gets his hands on the Joker and even shoots him in the knee.
10 Damian Wayne
The Joker just can’t get enough of playing mind games with Batman’s most beloved companions, particularly his Robins. Admittedly, Batman and Damian Wayne have a bit of a tumultuous relationship, but they’re never at real odds. The Joker takes advantage of Damian and gets in his head.
The Joker orchestrates a fight between Wayne and a toxin-drugged Batman, but Damian is unable to finish him when it comes down to it. In this broken state, the Joker reveals that this wasn’t even Batman to begin with, but he’s already seriously messed with Damian’s perception of what’s real at this point.
9 Red Hood
Jason Todd’s had a rough run with the Joker, both in his youth and after he’s gone through a vengeful resurrection and becomes the Red Hood. The Red Hood’s mysterious introduction occurs in Batman: The Red Hood and his major order of business is to make Batman break his one rule and finish off the Joker. The Red Hood pulls out all the stops to make this happen, but Batman still doesn’t make an exception. The Joker gets away and has gloating rights over Todd, while Todd's hatred for him grows even deeper.
8 The Creeper
The Creeper isn’t one of the most well known characters from the DC Universe and even though his name sounds like he should be a villain, he’s actually one of the good guys. When the Joker was given his own comics series, he faced a number of unusual heroes that were much below Batman’s level.
The Joker messes with the Creeper by setting his alter ego, Jack Ryder, up for a bank robbery. On top of that, in spite of the Creeper’s superhuman strength, the Joker is able to outsmart and render the Creeper unconscious, but it is his series after all.
7 The Justice League
Batman: Endgame is one of the most radical Batman story arcs, going so far as to "definitively" off the Joker before the comics continuity started again with DC Rebirth. Batman: Endgame features a lengthy mental manipulation of Batman from the Joker, but the story starts off with Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Cyborg all possessed by the Joker's latest revision of his Joker venom. It turns the Justice League into mindless warriors who want to off Batman.
6 Robin (Tim Drake)
The Batman Beyond feature, Return of the Joker, creates a surprisingly bleak fate for Tim Drake. It shows that in the past, Drake was taken by Harley and the Joker and tortured and brainwashed until he became a mini version of the Joker himself, Joker Junior. Drake sees Harley and the Joker as his parents, but when push comes to shove he’s able to turn against the Joker. Little does he know, this is far from the end and the villain will still have his talons in him until decades later when Terry McGinnis takes the Joker out for good.
5 Catwoman (Selina Kyle)
Frank Miller’s The Dark Night Returns is a controversial story, especially for its depictions of its female characters. Even though in this later timeline, Selina Kyle is retired and out of the superhero game, the Joker still fixates on her in order to make an example and terrorize Batman. The Joker beats up Selina and tries to demean her by tying her up in a Wonder Woman outfit. Even after all of this, Selina believes that Bruce is dead and further disillusions herself, all thanks to the Joker’s initial actions.
4 Batgirl (Cassandra Cain)
The Joker may turn the original Batgirl into a cripple, but he pulls one over on her replacement, Cassandra Cain, as well. The Joker squares off against Batgirl twice in DC First: Batgirl/Joker and the Joker gets the upper hand on both occasions. Cain may be highly skilled in combat, but the Joker’s able to elude her because he’s so insane that she can’t properly predict his movements.
Joker: Last Laugh is a massive crossover event series that posits that the Joker is victim of a terminal illness, so he attempts to pull off one last devastating attack on Batman and his entire Bat entourage. The Joker’s plan here is to make everyone think that Robin, Tim Drake, is dead by setting up a convincing setup at Killer Croc’s lair. The display sends Dick into such a rage that his beat down on the Joker, goes one step to far, and finishes him off. The Joker may be out of the picture, but he gets what he wants by pushing one of Batman’s family past the line.
2 Robin (Jason Todd)
One of the original Robins major driving forces is his missing birth family and his connection to them. In A Death in the Family, the Joker blackmails Jason Todd's birth mother and then lures Robin to reunite with his estranged parent. The situation just gets worse from that point when the Joker viciously beats Todd and then blows them both up with a bomb when Batman can't rescue them in time.
1 Batgirl (Barbara Gordon)
In Batman: The Killing Joke, the Joker sets out to prove that anyone can lose their mind and be driven to insanity if they just experience "one bad day.” This is one of his more sadistic plans and he sets Commissioner Gordon as his target. Gordon's daughter, Barbara, becomes unfortunate collateral damage here. The Joker shoots, paralyzes, and psychologically abuses Barbara and her father.
These are all of the most notable occasions where the Joker got one over on a hero, but they aren’t the only examples. Sound off over your favorites in the comments below!
Sources: ScreenRant.com, DCComics.com, CBR.com