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Does Joker ever find out Batman's identity in 89?

Sean Rules

Jul 7, 2003
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I don't think this question has really been asked before and I've always wanted to see what other bat fans thought of this question. Now we all know Vale finds out Bruce's identity in the film, but something that has always bothered me and that is does Bruce reveal his secret to Joker in the film? I ask this question based on two scenes. The first scene I want to highlight is at Vikki's house whereby Bruce goes up to Joker and says "I know who you are" then slyly raises his eyebrows. It was as if (IMO) Bruce was trying to give Joker a hint as to who he was. Then we have the Cathederal scene, after Bats has beaten Joker to a bloody pulp, Batman says "I made you, but you made me first" then Joker says "I was a kid when I killed your parents". Now it seems strange that Joker would say this and leads me to believe that he knew who Batman's was. Any suggestions would be greatful. :)
I don't think The Joker knows Batman is Bruce Wayne. His actions suggest that he is flustered upon realizing that he created Batman somehow, knows he's in trouble, and is doing everything he can to get out of it. Jack Napier was a mugger as a younger man, which is what he's referring to when he says "I was a kid". He's also got to be able to see that Batman is in his thirties, so that would mean that Jack had to be younger to kill Batman's parents, since he was a mob boss, not a hitman, and probably hadn't killed any old people lately.
Thanks:up: I can understand your point about the cathederal scene but the scene in Vale's house seems strange to me because the impression after Joker's appearance is that very few people knew who Joker is? I.e the spinning newspaper with the headline "Mysterious Joker" or something like that. And the mayor saying to Dent in his office "You find what what this madman is poisioning us with and fast". So why Bruce then say "I know who you are" right in Joker's face and IMO trying to give him an unnecessary hint to who he is?
maybe he did in that scene,but remember,he shot Bruce,so he thought Bruce was dead by the time he and Batman duked it out in the end.so,i think he might have suspected something at first,but by the time he and Batman fought for the last time,he didnt,because he thinks he killed Bruce.hope this helps.
This has long been one of what I've considered the worst scene in Batman 89.

I very definitely feel that the Joker knows that it's Wayne under the mask. Having said that, I consider it a huge hole in the writing.

I think it's ad libbed and I think it wasn't thought out all that well.

In fact, I think all the dialogue in that scene is ad libbed. I don't believe that Sam Hamm, being a long time Batman fan, would have written that. Considering that it was Burton or the studio who made the Joker the killer of Batman's parents, it wouldn't have made sense in his original script.

Someday, I'd like to get my hands on what Hamm originally wrote. I'm sure it's a much better read than the film.
The first draft:


BATMAN. Broken, beaten, his right leg useless, he hauls
himself up the steps one at a time. He should be dead.
Dried blood cakes his face, his chest.

Dizzy, exhausted, his body strained to the limit, he slumps
against a wall to steady himself, then reaches into his
utility belt for a painkiller -- and forces the capsule
back onto his dry, swollen tongue.

Quaking all over, he tries to draw himself erect... and
TOPPLES OVER, landing with his full weight on the rotten
wood of the belltower stairs.

THE STAIRWAY COLLAPSES, turning to splinters beneath him.
And suddenly BATMAN finds himself DANGLING PRECARIOUSLY IN
MIDAIR, hanging by one hand to an upper step.

It would be so much easier to let go. He looks down at the
fragments of the shattered stairway, STILL FALLING,
vanishing into the dark depths of the stairwell.

Then he looks up. At the trapdoor. A mere six feet away.
His TEETH CLENCH in a monstrous grimace. AND WITH AN

For a full five seconds he's blind with pain. A RAGGED
WOODEN SHAFT is buried in his right shoulder. Twitching,
trembling, he reaches up and YANKS IT OUT with his last
ounce of strength.

The trapdoor is a foot above his head. It could be a mile.
BATMAN finally realizes he's not going to make it.

He reaches down and rips open a Velcro seal on his utility
belt, revealing the strange TIMER DEVICE we saw him making
earlier. Before he can activate it his hand falls limply at
his side.

THE BATMAN is out like a light.


The JOKER glances casually down at the trapdoor, wondering
what all the noise is about. He draws his gun, moves
cautiously to the trapdoor, and lifts it a few inches...
just enough to see the unconscious form on the stairs.

... Batman?

No reply. The JOKER stands there and lets out a little
snicker. He looks out through the archway, sees no sign of
his rescue copter. Then -- a look of curious amusement on
his face -- he steps down THROUGH THE TRAPDOOR and LUGS
BATMAN up into the belltower.

He props BATMAN up against a wall. Still no sign of life.
The JOKER crouches beside him and -- almost tenderly --
pats his face.

JOKER (cont.)
Batman? Batman?

THE BATMAN's lips part. But he's too weak to speak.

JOKER (cont.)
I thought you'd be more comfortable
here in the belfry.
(chuckling to himself)
Before I kill you I'd like to see
who you are. Would that be okay?

BATMAN emits a tiny low moan. The JOKER takes it as a yes
and reaches over to undo his cowl.

BRUCE WAYNE stares up with dulled, sightless eyes. The
JOKER reaches into his pocket for a purple handkerchief,
moistens it, dabs at the caked blood on BRUCE's face.

JOKER (cont.)
Oh my, aren't we pretty.
(brightening suddenly)
I know you! You're the rich boy!!

The JOKER is enormously tickled by this discovery. He claps
his hands together in sheer glee.

JOKER (cont.)
My goodness, what in the world made
you do it? It must've been
something pretty terrible!

He's practically dancing now. He's made a friend.

JOKER (cont.)
You know, we should've sat down and
had us a little heart-to-heart. I
bet we would have got on famously.

Mad... man...

Well now, you're not exactly the
picture of mental health, are you.

... Murderer...

Bruce, we're both murderers. Think
how many people you've killed by
letting me live.

A SPOTLIGHT cuts through the night sky. The JOKER hears his
helicopter approaching in the distance.

BRUCE reaches down furtively. Finds the timer on his
utility belt. FLICKS A SWITCH... and the countdown begins.

The JOKER pulls a straight razor from his pocket and opens
it gingerly.

JOKER (cont.)
I have to do it now, Bruce, but it
won't even hurt. Now relax. The
bat's in his belfry, all's right
with the world...

He has the razor almost up to BRUCE's throat when BRUCE
reaches out and GRABS HIS LAPELS in a death grip. The JOKER
is momentarily amused by this seeming display of affection.

JOKER (cont.)
Why, Bruce...

Then he hears ticking.

Looks down at the flashing digital display on BRUCE's belt.
0:26 seconds. 0:25 seconds.


BRUCE won't let go of him. Finally he manages to lurch
convulsively away, sprawling on the floor of the belfry.

BRUCE is wearing a great big Joker smile.

JOKER (cont.)

No... sense... of humor?

More coming.

My parents are dead. But you
remember that, don't you, Jack?

Joker turns quickly to see Batman standing with cape un-
furled. A rappeling line hangs from his belt and out
onto the parapet. A small pulley on the belt. The

You climbed up the outside with
a rope!
You little monkey! God, look at
you. You're a mess.
They're gonna be real mad at the
costume shop when they see what
you did to their suit.

Batman steps toward him. Joker steps back into the

(wicked smile)
Yeah, and they asked me to bring
your face back to the shop for
some work. Even if I have to tear
it off.

You maniac, it was you who dropped
me in the tanks. You made me.

I made you. And you made me.

What is this? I say you made me
and you have to say I made you?
How childish can you get? You're

(the voice of doom)
Are we going to kill each other,

(slightly nervous)
Jack? Jack's out, I'm running his
body while he's gone.

Well, when you see him -- tell him
I'm gonna kick his ass!

Batman steps in Joker's direction. From out of the dark-
ness Joker swings a huge BELL which SMASHES INTO BATMAN.
He is knocked over backwards out onto the parapet, he
nearly falls over the edge.


A frightening view thirty stories down toward death.


Batman catches himself just before he topples over.

So...Sam Hamm and Warren Skarren wrote it. Whether it was Burton's influence is another question.
It reads better than the actual scene in the movie. It has more of a Killing Joke-esque feel to it. It´s no secret that Hamm´s script was chopped off a lot. Hope they learned the lesson now.
Sam Hamm's script was based on Tim Burton's 30-page treatment, so obviously Burton had a major influence.
Maybe that would've been better than the actual bit that was in the movie. It had a very comic book feeling.
i'm sorry the one thing that bothers me is i can't really imagine Batman saying "Kick his ass" he just seems like someone who could say something a little more suttle. i.e "if you see him, tell him i owe him something" somthing really intimidating like that
Huh. I actually liked the movie ending better than the script ending. The script just seemed to drawn-out for me.

I think The Guard explains it pretty well, with The Joker not knowing Batman's identity, but kinda placing it from back in the day, when he was a thug and all.
Burton changed the ending to pay homage to that of Metropolis.

Thanks for posting that. It's incredibly better in it's original form and makes a helluva lot more sense.

...And, yes, I've read many Sam Hamm interviews where it was stated that the studio wanted the Joker to be the Wayne's killer. If I remember correctly, I think Sam originally wrote it with Joe Chill and the studio said 'HUH? Who's that? ...Listen, just make it The Joker and then it'll give Batman closure when he catches him at the end.' Obviously I'm paraphrasing but that's pretty much what I remember from reading those interviews.
You can read the entire drafts of those earlier scripts at the link in my signature.
Originally posted by Coven66
i'm sorry the one thing that bothers me is i can't really imagine Batman saying "Kick his ass" he just seems like someone who could say something a little more suttle. i.e "if you see him, tell him i owe him something" somthing really intimidating like that

yeah that's the only thing i didn't like
Joker knew it was Bruce because when they were at Vale's house joker told bruce "have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight" and when batman was beating up joker Batman "said have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight" When Batman said that I assume joker remembered that he said that to bruce as a child and bruce as a man
Not really because Jack says that to "ALL" his prey, so it could have been anyone.
true but i doubt he said that to alot of young boys in gotham city
Joker found out all right. (imo). When batman says "have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight" he does so using his natural Bruce Wayne voice and not the cold rasp of the dark knight, which he immediately reverts back to ('I'm gonna' kill ya').
Macphisto said:
Joker found out all right. (imo). When batman says "have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight" he does so using his natural Bruce Wayne voice and not the cold rasp of the dark knight, which he immediately reverts back to ('I'm gonna' kill ya').

This something i have always wondered about, but i just put it down to a plot hole, which is most probably what it is.
How is it a plot hole?

Personally, I like the way it was shut much better than what the script originally was. I know, Batman Begins fans loved it's wordiness and how it was so utterly straight to the point with, well, everything, but there's just some things, and some movies, that are better if they aren't spelled out for you. Are more moody, and thematic if they're a scant few stares rather than a handful of dialogue. I this that scene is a prime example of that.
^^^That's a possibility, but I can't help feeling that something was left out there. There's no "A-HA!" moment for the Joker, showing when he has figured Bat's ID. You're right, it doesn't have to be really obvious, it could be a subtle moment, but to me it seems non-existent. That bit from the initial draft of the script would have helped .

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