Comic Book Legends Revealed #481
Welcome to the four hundred and eightieth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and seventy-nine. This week is a special theme week tied in with our recently completed 75 Greatest Batman Stories of All-Time countdown. Was the Joker going to dress like Madonna in Arkham Asylum? Was KnightQuest shortened due to fan backlash? And did Harley Quinn really make her comic book debut in Mad Love?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: The Joker was originally going to dress like Madonna in Arkham Asylum.
Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s Arkham Asylum ended up at #6 on the 75 Greatest Batman Stories countdown. The story introduced us to one of the more innovative visual approaches to the Joker…
However, originally, things were going to be even MORE different, but the timing of the project worked out so that while Morrison had the script written in 1988, with the release of the then-upcoming Batman movie in 1989, Warner Brothers was a bit more hands on when it came to Batman projects, especially high profile graphic novels.
Morrison explained to Steve McGinty of Fear magazine in 1990 one of the most notable changes to Morrison’s original script (other stuff was like removing the words “Fuck” and “masturbate”
The movie was coming out and they were worried that our version of The Batman would contradict theirs. They wanted a PG-rated Batman because they didn’t want to jeopardise the $50 million they had sunk into the movie. Because of this a couple of things came out. The Joker was originally dressed as Madonna. They didn’t want this because they thought people would think that Jack Nicholson was a transvestite. Is this the conclusion you would jump to?’
Interestingly enough, Morrison’s script was written before he even knew McKean was going to draw the series.
As commenter Benjamin notes, Morrison actually put in a copy of his original description of the Joker in the 15th anniversary edition of Arkham Asylum. Here it is:
Here is Madonna from the video in question (“Open Your Heart”)…
Anyhow, thanks for the information Steve and Grant! And thanks for the reminder of the bit from the anniversary edition, Benjamin!
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Was Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar banned for life from McDonald’s because of some ads for Burger King she did as a little girl?
On the next page, was Azrael’s time as Batman cut short due to fan outcry?