The Best Joker Connects to Star Trek and Ends in Tragedy

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

  • Batman: Dead End features Andrew Koening as The Joker.
  • Andrew Koening, the forgotten Joker actor, was the son of Walter Koening, Chekov on Star Trek: The Original Series.
  • Batman: Dead End was a 2003 fan film that starred Clark Bartram as Batman and Andrew Koening as Joker.
  • Seven years after Andrew Koening played the Joker, he committed suicide.

Which onscreen Joker was best is the kind of thing Batman fans have been arguing about for decades. What most fans don’t realize, however, is that the best onscreen Joker appeared in a killer fan film that connects to Star Trek. In the seminal 2003 fan film Batman: Dead End, Andrew Koenig (son of Pavel Chekov actor Walter Koenig) played the Joker, and the actor later tragically committed suicide.

For longtime internet nerds, Batman: Dead End is a real blast from the past. The fan film premiered at San Diego Comic-Con way back in 2003, making it the rare viral video that predates YouTube. The fan film is the ultimate crossover showing what happens to Batman when he chases the Joker into the titular dead end and ends up fighting against both xenomorphs and Predators.

Batman: Dead End may end in a strange place with the Predator, but Andrew Koening’s Joker is a standout.

At the beginning of the film, Clark Bartram’s Batman is suiting up and listening to reports about how the clown prince of crime has escaped Arkham Asylum yet again. Andrew Koenig plays the Joker, and it doesn’t take long before Batman has tracked his foe down. These early scenes establish the film’s aesthetic very well, and since Christopher Nolan had not yet introduced a heavily armored Caped Crusader, the Batman of this film is wearing a cross between the 1966 TV show costume and the one from Tim Burton’s 1989 film.

It’s important to mention the aesthetic because what made Batman: Dead End so popular is how high-quality the costuming looks. Over two decades later, the xenomorphs and Predator costumes look as good as anything we have gotten from 20th Century Fox’s official films. For Batman fans, however, the coolest part of the film remains our title hero’s interactions with Andrew Koenig’s Joker.

Hearing Andrew Koenig’s dialogue, it’s difficult not to think of Jack Nicholson’s Joker as he complained about the “childish” discussion over who made whom in the climax of that movie.

It doesn’t take Batman long to track the Joker down, and we soon see the shocking sight of xenomorphs dragging the villain up a wall, presumably to his death. Before that happens, however, Batman and the Joker have a discussion that touches on what makes these characters so great. For example, the villain brings up the fact that he and Batman both wear masks but that the Dark Knight has “a choice” about whether to wear his or not.

Batman: Dead End

Batman responds that the over “made your choice a long time ago,” prompting Andrew Koenig’s Joker to blame the hero: “you condemned me to that asylum like some bastard child that you refuse to take responsibility for.” Just when the conversation is getting good, however, the villain gloats that Batman’s guilt over creating his own archnemesis is “why you’ll never kill me, Bats!” Knowing a great setup line when he hears one, a xenomorph soon emerges and drags the Joker to his death, but not before the clown troublingly calls Batman “daddy.”

Andrew Koening committed suicide in 2010, seven years after starring as The Joker in Batman: Dead End.

For many fans of Batman: Dead End, this leads to the best part: the Caped Crusader’s showdown against both xenomorphs and Predators, with the ending of the film highly implying that our hero is about to die fighting these otherworldly foes. However, the more we rewatch this fan film, the more we are struck by the performance of Andrew Koenig. Not only does he look great as the Joker, but his dialogue is a real love letter to the franchise as a whole.

Batman: Dead End

Right before the xenomorph strikes, the Joker calls Batman “Daddy” in reference to the hero helping to create the villain. This is an interesting inversion of the 1989 Batman that the fan film takes many of its style cues from: in that film, the Joker was a much older foe who effectively created Batman by gunning down Bruce Wayne’s parents. Hearing Andrew Koenig’s dialogue, it’s difficult not to think of Jack Nicholson’s Joker as he complained about the “childish” discussion over who made whom in the climax of that movie.

While Andrew Koenig had a long and storied Hollywood career, it often seemed difficult for him to escape the long shadow of his father, Walter Koenig, who became a Hollywood icon thanks to Star Trek: The Original Series. This fan film effectively connects Star Trek to the DC universe, and thanks largely to the younger Koenig, the crossover is infinitely better than the embarrassing Star Trek/X-Men crossover book (the less said, the better). Sadly, Andrew Koenig died from suicide in 2010, but he leaves behind a powerful creative legacy that fans can help grow by telling others of the young actor’s immense talents.