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"Man, let's go! Let's go, Jack!"
―Joe Chill[src]

Joe Chill was a low level criminal operating in Gotham. Along with his associate Jack Napier, he attempted to rob the Wayne family. The altercation resulted in the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, leading their son Bruce to become the vigilante Batman.


Mugging the Wayne Family

Chill mugged the Waynes shortly after their exit from the Monarch Theatre. Napier watched from the shadows as he attempted to rip Martha Wayne's pearls from her neck. Thomas Wayne struggled with Chill during that, while Napier immediately shot them both. As Chill turned to him in surprise, Napier stepped forward to take aim at their orphaned son, Bruce. As Chill fled, he called to Napier, who then decided to leave Bruce alive on a whim. Chill's fate after the mugging is unknown.

Years later while he brooded in the Batcave, Bruce recalled the memory of Chill's cries, and realized that Napier, now a deranged criminal called "the Joker", was the murderer of his parents.


Behind the Scenes

  • In the film, Clyde Gatell was credited as Other Mugger. According to producer Michael Uslan, this is intended to be the mugger who pulled the trigger on the Waynes in the comics.[1] It was also Uslan who suggested the original mugger be present during the scene.[2]
  • In Tom Mankiewicz's original script Joe Chill is mentioned by name and the murder of the Waynes occurs right at the beginning of the story. It's later revealed that Rupert Thorne paid Chill to kill Dr. Wayne instead of Lew Moxon like in the comics. Steve Englehart's script treatments followed a similar structure to the Mankiewicz origin. In Sam Hamm's drafts, Chill (referred to as "Gunman") retained the same role as he did in the original origin, being the nameless mugger of the Waynes. The change to have a young Jack Napier (Joker) be their murderer was made by director Tim Burton, who believed that Batman and Joker should be responsible for the other's creation. Hamm had fought against the change and, for a time, managed to convince the director not to make the deviation. Burton and Warner Bothers made the collective decision to replace Hamm prior to the movie being greenlit into full production. A fresh objective voice was needed to revise the shooting script in a way that could appeal to the widest audience possible. Warren Skaaren reinserted Burton's "who made who?" theme back into the story. The change proved controversial comic book purists which represent a very small fraction of the global audience. Petitions and boycotts did not prevent the movie from becoming a success.


  • Taking inspiration from Frank Miller's 1986 Dark Knight series, Chill attempts to steal Martha's pearls before her murder. Great emphasis is put on the pearls hitting the street in slow motion, which is what makes it a reference to Dark Knight. Chill first went for the necklace and broke it in the Mankiewicz script, but there was no lingering visual of falling pearls mentioned.
  • Chill did not appear in flashbacks of the murder seen in Batman Forever, which retconned it be Napier as a lone gunman who killed Waynes.
  • Fans speculated that Joe Chill may have been Bob the Goon, who was always close to Napier and seemed to have a long history with him. However, Chill clearly being in his mid-to-late 30s during the time of the Wayne murders whilst Bob is in his early 40s during the main events. Considering the time-frame between the events (20 years roughly), it is obviously two different characters.


Screen Captures

Sawyer/Lehmann slides