In Tim Burton’s iconic and influential 1989 film, Batman, The Joker has new outfits for himself and his enforcers along with an arsenal of deadly comedy-themed weapons seemingly within a day, but the film subtly explains how this is possible. Batman is one of the few adaptations of the classic DC Comics mythos to give Batman’s nemesis, The Joker, a complete origin story, establishing him as the brilliant mobster Jack Napier, who was second-in-command of Carl Grissom’s crime syndicate. While Napier’s true transformation occurred after his encounter with Batman, dialogue implies that he’d been on his way to becoming The Joker beforehand.
Taking inspiration from The Joker’s Silver Age Detective Comics origin and 1988’s Batman: The Killing Joke, Burton’s Batman depicted the iconic villain’s classic origin while adding some dark new additions. Jack Napier was wounded by a ricocheting bullet to the face and had his skin bleached and his hair dyed green after falling into a vat of chemicals during a fight with Batman. Driven insane by his ghoulish new appearance, Napier renames himself Joker and usurps Grissom, becoming Gotham’s most powerful mob boss.
Seemingly within a day, Napier, now The Joker, uses an arsenal of lethal comedic weaponry, with the first being a joy buzzer that electrocutes victims until they’re nothing but a burnt corpse. Before his disfigurement, Jack Napier is described by corrupt cop Max Eckhardt as an “A-1 nut boy” and Bruce Wayne’s dossier on him describes Napier as an unstable genius. The evidence points to the fact that Napier was likely developing many of his weapons before he even became clown prince of crime.
Considering his reputation, aptitude, and vocation, Napier might have been working on his seemingly-harmless weapons before his transformation. Weapons like the joy buzzer and razer sharp quill pen would have been useful for a mobster like Napier, who could approach his enemies seemingly unarmed before killing them unexpectedly. The Joker’s signature weapon, his Smylex gas, was revealed in the film to be a lethal nerve agent developed by the CIA and discontinued years prior. Napier might have been trying to acquire the weapon well before becoming The Joker.
The Joker also seems to have acquired theatrical new suits for himself and Joker-themed uniforms for his enforces overnight as well. Considering his incredible vanity before his disfigurement, it makes sense that The Joker would want his criminal underlings to match his newfound aesthetic. Just as Napier reinvented himself after his disfigurement, the mobsters who once worked for Carl Grissom got a new look as well.
While The Joker’s resources weren’t quite as vast as Batman’s his genius allowed him to have a surreal and deadly arsenal of weapons by the time his horrific crime spree began. The Joker is confirmed to have been a genius with violent tendencies already, so he was likely only one major event away from snapping in the first place. The Joker was most likely working on his lethal weapons before his disfigurement, as implied in Tim Burton’s classic Batman film.