What Is The Joker's Real Name? DC Comics Finally Has An Answer

The Crown Prince of Crime is one of the most mysterious characters in all of Gotham, with more secrets than even the enigmatic Riddler. The Joker's real identity has always been a question mark, in part because he's scarier if we don't know what made him an evil megalomaniac. Heath Ledger's take on the character in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" riffed on the idea of a shifting backstory by having Ledger's Joker tell different stories about how he got his scars to different people. Besides, how could anyone trust the word of a madman? No matter what Joker might say about his own past, it's very unlikely to be true. 

While some adaptations of the character have given him a name beyond the Joker moniker, like Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck in "Joker," there hasn't been a single consensus on his official comics canon name... until now. In the recently released comic book "Flashpoint Beyond #5," Thomas Wayne's Batman discovers the civilian name of the Earth-1 Joker, and it has its origins in some of the character's other iterations. 

This article contains spoilers for "Flashpoint Beyond #5."

Martha spills the beans

In "Flashpoint Beyond #5," by Geoff Johns, Tim Sheridan, Jeremy Adams, Mikel Janin Xermanico, Romulo Fajardo Jr., Jordie Bellaire, and Rob Leigh, Bruce Wayne's father Thomas is Batman, and he's facing off against his ex-wife and Bruce's mother, Martha. This all takes place at the beginning of the alternate Flashpoint Universe, so poor Bruce Wayne is deader than his parents usually are. In this different reality, Martha spiraled into darkness because of her son's murder, and she eventually becomes this universe's version of the Joker. Batman's parents becoming Batman and the Joker is some pretty wild stuff, but it gets better: Thomas traps himself with Martha in order to try and buy them some time before the police can take her away and she reveals that she knows the Earth-0 Joker's origins. 

You see, Psycho-Pirate, a psychic supervillain, ended up in the Flashpoint Universe and Martha got her creepy clown hands on him. She was able to torture him for information about Earth-0, because she wanted to know about a timeline where her son lived and went on to do great things. What is it with moms using multiverse timeline weirdness to check on their alternate kids? 

While grilling Psycho-Pirate for information on the other version of Bruce, she also managed to get him to give up the Joker's real backstory. Apparently he's a failed comedian with a wife and son who worked as a janitor at Wayne Casino, scrubbing toilets instead of cracking wise onstage. And his name? Jack Oswald White.

Heeeeere's Jack!

If the name "Jack" for the Joker sounds familiar, that's because Jack Nicholson's Joker in Tim Burton's 1989 "Batman" movie was named Jack Napier. For many non-comic readers who hadn't watched the 1960s television series, Nicholson's Joker was their introduction to the character, and the name Jack stuck around for a while. While the Joker was rarely ever referred to by his real name, the name Jack Napier appeared on paperwork in the background in both the comics and "Batman: The Animated Series" following Burton's "Batman." (As for the name Jack Napier, Burton made it up out of Nicholson's real first name and Napier for Alan Napier, who played butler Alfred Pennyworth on the 1960's series.)

The Joker's name being Jack makes a lot of sense, but where did the "Oswald White" come from? Oswald is the first name of another famous Gothamite, Oswald Copperpot aka The Penguin, so maybe it's just a good evil name? White works because of the greasepaint-covered visage associated with the clownish criminal. Unfortunately, Jack White makes him sound more like he's going to record a garage rock album than blow up Gotham City Bank, so the Oswald was probably just to distinguish the two. 

It's worth noting that the "Flashpoint" stories take place in an alternate universe and this information could be retconned in any number of ways, but since Martha said it applies to Earth-0 Joker, it could also be the real deal. As long as he doesn't start singing, I'm happy.