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At the end of Batman (the 1989 movie), Batman says to the Joker 'you killed my parents'; the Joker replies that he (Jack Napier) was a kid when he killed them.

Does this mean the Joker knew Batman is Bruce Wayne?

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  • As per your last edit: it kind of sounds like the Joker would've killed Batman's parents whe the Joker was a kid. A bit early don't you think? (or maybe I remember the quote wrong or something, and Joker was in his early stages of development, hence the kid stuff)
    – Jenayah
    Aug 14, 2018 at 21:26
  • Referring to yourself as a kid doesn't mean teen etc just younger. Just watched film again and hadn't noticed the line before. I think the Joker could know hence giving away the money, a double 'kapow'?? Aug 14, 2018 at 22:23
  • The Joker was a violent SOB and may have killed lots of kids parents?
    – user66716
    Feb 26, 2019 at 20:16
  • @jim yes but without know who Batman was how doesn't he know he 'was a kid' when he killed his (Batman/Bruce Wayne) parents. Mar 1, 2019 at 22:16

3 Answers 3

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It's possible, but not until the very end of the movie.

This is the script of the scene you are recalling (found here):

The Joker, hearing something beneath the trapdoor, begins to move the second bell over it. However, his curiosity gets the better of him and he lifts the trap a fraction of an inch. He opens the trap fully, no Batman.

  JOKER
I must have belled the bat!

Joker LAUGHS then stops and looks around slowly.

  JOKER
There ain't any more of you up
here, are there? -- Daddy or Momma
bat?

The Joker LAUGHS, CRAZILY.

  BATMAN (O.S.)
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 Joker CACKLES.

  JOKER
You climbed up the outside with
a rope!
    (LAUGHTER)
You little monkey!  God, look at
you.  You're a mess.
    (laughs)
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 half-dark.

  BATMAN
    (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.

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

  BATMAN
I made you.  And you made me.

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

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

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

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

If we go by the evidence in this scene; Joker is unsure if Batman has backup, possibly consisting of a 'Daddy bat' or 'Mamma bat'. Therefor at this point he does not know the true identity of Batman. The next line, delivered by Batman, gives Joker a hint at Batman's true identity. At that time it is possible that the Joker was able to determine Batman's true identity, but it's never made clear that he does.

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  • Think 'one who' missed the real Q, see 'King if NES' below Aug 14, 2018 at 22:17
  • 2
    Reading that makes me very grateful for script doctors. Aug 15, 2018 at 14:08
  • Jack may have killed a lot of people, but how many couples did he kill? The Waynes may be the only ones, making it more memorable. Whether or not Jack guesses Batman's identity would depend on whether he remembered the identity of the couple he shot. Aug 16, 2018 at 8:20
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If you take just that line by itself, It's implied that Joker has in fact figured it out-though when this happens would probably not be until the fight in the Clock Tower itself. Being that Bruce survived the bullet from earlier in the film at Vale's apartment, and his tenacity going after Vale at the museum and then the clock tower could be enough of a stretch for Joker to have figured out that they are 1 and the same.

However, taking in the entire film-I would say this is just Joker saying his line based off of the fact that Batman is at least in his 20s, and the reference to "killed my parents" implies Batman was a kid at that time-could be matched to any number of his homicides from 15-25 years ago. Napier is at least 40 in the film, so the time would make sense.

Even if he had his suspicions, he never got a chance to use the knowledge, or even mention anything later.

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BATMAN just said you killed my parents. Jack may have done lots of things but I'm sure he's READ about Bruce in the paper and knows about him and kept tabs of sorts. Don't forget he waives at Bruce in limo... So when bats says that line - I'm sure Joker instantly thinks OH SNAP it's Bruce Wayne! At that point it's only logical the millionaire kid has become batman - who else WOULD it be, right? Also Jack is like a genius would be serial killer etc... He's a pyscho and brilliant. I'm sure it wasn't hard for him to put that together quickly. Nicholson COULD have made a funny bit out of that - with a realization and funny line... They do gloss over that pretty quickly lol

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    The evidence (from the script and the novelisation) strongly contradict this version of events. Can you offer any proof to back up these bold statements?
    – Valorum
    Sep 30, 2020 at 19:45
  • In Batman 1989 it is not clear that the Waynes are as big of a deal as in the Nolan films - where their deaths were big news that set the city on a downward spiral. I'd speculate Jack knew he killed some richer than normal folks because it was that week's news - and never thought about it again. Sep 30, 2020 at 19:46
  • First the script is done when the movie has been filmed. Then the movie becomes something else. The written page isn't law. One can never KNOW until Jack, Tim or Keaton confirm it but yes it was in the papers. Although the scant file knox has on it could suggest it wasn't the biggest of stories. It wouldn't make SENSE at that point for him not to know. There's more to suggest he does know THEN (and only then) than otherwise. Also, his response would kind of stupid. They could have made it clearer but in the moment it seems like he figured it out. What would be the benefit otherwise? Oct 12, 2020 at 8:31

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