Joe Chill

Joe Chill


caption =
character_name = Joe Chill
publisher = DC Comics
debut = Detective Comics #33 (November 1939), Named: "Batman" #47 (June-July 1948)
creators =
alter_ego =
full_name = Joseph Chilton
species =
homeworld =
alliances =
aliases =
powers =

Joe Chill is a fictional character in the DC Comics "Batman" series. He is most infamous for murdering young Bruce Wayne's parents (in different versions of Batman's origin story), thus making him indirectly responsible for Batman's existence.

Not much is known about Chill, except that he is a petty mugger who kills Wayne's parents while trying to take their money and jewelry. Chill panics and runs away when Bruce begins crying and calling for help, but not before the boy memorizes his features.

Pre-Crisis versions

Batman's origin story is first established in a sequence of panels in "Detective Comics" #33 (November 1939) that is later reproduced in the comic book "Batman" #1 (Spring 1940), but the mugger is not given a name until "Batman" #47 (June-July 1948). In that issue, Batman discovers that Joe Chill, the small-time crime boss he is investigating, is none other than the man who killed his parents. Batman confronts him and reveals his secret identity. Chill, frightened, seeks protection from his henchmen. Once they learn that Chill's actions led to the hated Batman's existence, they turn on their boss and fatally shoot him - just before they realize how valuable his knowledge is to them. Before a dying Chill has a chance to reveal Batman's identity, the Dark Knight intervenes and finishes the goons; Chill dies in Batman's arms addressing him by his true name.

In "Detective Comics" #235 (1956), Batman learns that Chill was not a mere robber, but actually a hitman who murdered the Waynes on orders from a Mafia boss named Lew Moxon.

In the 1980 miniseries "The Untold Legend of the Batman", Alfred Pennyworth reminisces that Joe Chill is the son of one Alice Chilton, one-time caretaker of young Bruce Wayne.

Modern Age version

In the post-Crisis 1987 storyline "", Chill played a key role. Several Gotham City crime bosses pool their resources to deal with a vigilante called the Reaper, and Chill is hired to take him out. When Batman proposes an alliance it is agreed that he and Chill will work together - something Batman finds repugnant, but which he nevertheless justifies to himself as necessary to tackle the Reaper. He vows to kill Chill afterwards. Chill is also commissioned to kill Batman after the Reaper has been disposed of. During a major confrontation, the crime bosses are all killed in a battle at a warehouse, in which the Reaper seemingly also perishes. Chill reasons that he now no longer needs to fulfill his contract, but Batman takes him to "Crime Alley", the scene of his parents' murder. There he confronts Chill and reveals his identity. Batman has Chill at gunpoint, but the Reaper appears and guns Chill down. It is left ambiguous as to whether or not Batman would have actually pulled the trigger.

In the 1991 sequel, "Batman: Full Circle", Chill's son (also named Joe Chill) appears, taking on the identity of the now deceased Reaper. He seeks revenge for his father's death, and subsequently attempts to drive Batman insane by using hallucinogenic drugs to trigger Batman's survivor's guilt over his parents' deaths, creating a video where a young boy's parents are killed in front of him and then subsequently thanks God he didn't die himself; Chill knows that his father had killed Batman's parents, but does not know of Batman's identity. However, thanks to the intervention of Robin, Batman frees himself from the drug-induced haze, and overcome his guilt. After the new Reaper is defeated, Batman accepts that the bad blood between him and the Chills is now over, hoping that their vendetta, beginning with Joe Chill and Thomas Wayne, will end with their sons.

After 1994's "Zero Hour" storyline, DC Comics stated that Batman did not catch or confront who had murdered his parents after having seen in an alternate timeline that Chill hadn't done it after all.

In 2006's "Infinite Crisis" #6, another cosmic crisis reestablishing that Chill murders Thomas and Martha Wayne and adding for the first time that he is later arrested on that same night for their murder.

In the 2008 Grant Morrison story, "Joe Chill in Hell" (featured in "Batman" #673), Chill is reinterpreted as a mid-level crime boss who builds the Land, Sea, Air Transport company from the ground up (most likely through illegal means). He blamed his crimes, including murdering the Waynes, on class warfare. In this story, Batman has visited and frightened Chill every night for a month. Chill is living as a shut in, but his guards never see or catch Batman during the visits. On his final visit, Batman gives Chill the gun he used to kill the Waynes. There is one bullet left within it. Chill finally realizes who Batman is, and fears what his fellow gangsters would do to him if they found out. It is implied that he may have committed suicide; considering the issue consists of Bruce's flashbacks and hallucinations from an experiment he undergoes during his early career, however, it is left ambiguous.

Alternate Versions

The Dark Knight Returns

In Frank Miller's 1986 limited series "", Bruce Wayne finally finds it in himself to forgive Chill (who is not named, implying that in Miller's Dark Knight Universe Bruce Wayne never learned his identity) after he is mugged by street punks. At first he fantasizes that the two amateur criminals are Chill so he can take out his rage on them, but relents when they lose interest and leave him alone. Wayne at last sees that Chill had not killed his parents for killing's sake, as the two punks wanted to do to him, and thus he was not truly evil. "All he wanted was money," Wayne realizes. "He was sick and guilty over what he did. I was naive enough to think him the lowest sort of man."

The Batman Adventures

Chill also appears in the DC comic book "The Batman Adventures" in its final issue (#17). In the issue Chill is shown to have lived in fear ever since the night he killed the Waynes, especially as their son had become a very powerful businessman in Gotham City. Chill starts to see Bruce Wayne's face on random people all over town. He falls to his death from a balcony after refusing help from the Dark Knight (whose mask had been torn, though Chill thought it was another hallucination). Batman is unaware of who Chill really was or why he had refused help.

Crime Syndicate

In comics featuring the Crime Syndicate of America, it is revealed that on the Crime Syndicate's alternate Earth, Joe Chill is a friend of Dr. Thomas Wayne. One night, a policeman wants to bring Mr. Wayne in for questioning, and when he refuses, the officer opens fire; this Earth's version of Bruce and his mother are killed. Chill comes out of the alley to discover the dead bodies, and the Waynes' younger son, Thomas Wayne Jr. leaves with Chill.

Other Media


* In the episode "The Fear," a flashback depicts the Thomas and Martha Wayne getting mugged by someone that might be Joe Chill. This flashback is induced by the Scarecrow. When his father tries to fight him, a young Bruce says "No Dad, he's got a...." and lightning is shown in the sky as his parents are shot.
* The "Justice League Unlimited" episode "For the Man Who Has Everything" features an appearance by Joe Chill. In the sequence, Bruce Wayne has a hallucination in which his father is not shot, but instead disarms Chill and starts punching him, much to young Bruce's delight. The scene is relived/reimagined when Batman is captured by the "Black Mercy" plant, an alien plant which traps its prey in the fantasy of their heart's desire. In an ironic twist of casting, Chill's one line in the episode ("We'll start with the pretty pearls around the lady's neck") is performed by none other than Kevin Conroy himself, the voice of Batman in the DCAU.


Batman (1989 film)

In the original script for 1989's "Batman", written by Tom Mankiewicz, crime boss Rupert Thorne hires Joe Chill to murder Thomas Wayne, who is running against Thorne for city council. [] Chill is not mentioned in the final version of the film, directed by Tim Burton. In that film, a young Jack Napier, who would later become the Joker, is the Waynes' killer.

Batman Begins

Joe Chill was played by Richard Brake in the 2005 film "Batman Begins". This version of Chill claims to have been driven to mug the Waynes because of the desperation of the times (Gotham was undergoing an economic depression). He is arrested soon after killing Bruce's parents. Years later, he undergoes a hearing to be released from prison as part of a deal to testify against Gotham mob boss Carmine Falcone (with whom he had shared a prison cell) in exchange for parole. During the hearing, he claims to regret his crime. After the hearing despite police presence, he is killed by one of Falcone's assassins, who was posing as a reporter as he leaves the courtroom. It is later discovered that Falcone had bribed the judge of Chill's case to make the hearing public and bring Chill out into the open. The young Bruce Wayne, who is waiting outside the courtroom with a gun of his own, is thus deprived of his own chance for revenge; as with "Year Two", it is left ambiguous whether or not he would have actually killed Chill. Bruce's lost chance of killing Chill himself helps him realize what justice really is, and his memories of a gun taking his parents' lives brings him to his rule that he will not kill. Bruce later confronts Falcone, who taunts him by saying that Chill bragged that Thomas Wayne "begged like a dog" before his death (whether or not this is true is unknown).


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