Character Analysis: The Joker

There is a character who is really like no other in the world of comic book villains.  It would be hard for a person to actually find a character who is this deep and this disturbed in the world of comic book villains.  The mind that concocted him, Jerry Robinson, must have been a very twisted person indeed.  This character represents a theory about existence that part of me believes that all people wish we could embrace, in our own way.  Don’t start thinking I’m crazy just yet.  Hear me out, as I explain one of the most intricate and complicated people who has ever appeared in fiction.

Let’s break this down into categories.  First, the Joker’s history.  Now, there is a bit of argument as to where he actually came from.  Different comics and movies have had different points of view.  But there is no definite back-story for his character.  He has always had a long-standing history of crime, that is a constant.  Of course, his history is equally twisted as his character.  Back when he first appeared in the comics, he was just a homicidal maniac, but over time, his character quickly evolved.  Even how he was disfigured is often contested.  Sometimes he was dumped into a vat of chemicals, other times he is the victim of self-mutilation, or in the case of The Dark Knight, the stories contradict one-another and there is no definite story at all.

Whatever the reason for his transformation, he quickly takes a liking to Batman.  The great philosophical debacle of the Batman series is that the battle between these two never ends.  The Joker has even said in the comics and in film that they will keep at it for as long as they live.  Personally, I think that the Joker believes him to be the only enemy worth facing.  When the comic series first had him in it, he was nothing more than a lunatic, like every other villain, but his character quickly evolves into a criminal genius.

Another JokerThis brings us to the second part – his character.  The Joker is the definition of pure evil.  Really, there is no way that one cannot believe that he is anything less.  Some people believe that he is a psychopath, but that is not true.  The Joker feels emotion, and the definition of psychopathy is that a person feels no emotion whatsoever.  His emotion may be sick humor, or anger, and occasional sadness when one of his plans doesn’t go right, but he does feel genuine emotion.  But even with his insanity, the fact is that he is a brilliant criminal mind.  He is not only able to think up complicated schemes very quickly, and set up all the necessary tools to get these plans going, but he can also adjust them very quickly when he needs to, as he often does since Batman is messing them up.  The Joker has claimed that Arkham Asylum is just a resting ground where he can chill out, since he is always able to leave the place at will.

Another sign of his brilliant mind is that he doesn’t rely on a single way of getting the job done.  He uses multiple methods, such as elaborate traps, explosives, guns, anything that is on-hand, or that he cleverly has hidden on his person. There are also some pretty nifty little tools on him, like a flower in his lapel that can shoot acid, venom, fire, exploding toys, Arkham Origins Jokersuch as dice and countless other things.  He has a little shocking device that he wears on his hand.  Sometimes it is just a harmless prank, other time it is a great deal more serious.

Speaking of serious, there is a debate as to how mad the Joker really is.  There was a part in the comic when he was teamed up with Scarecrow.  Out of general curiosity, Scarecrow gasses him with his chemical that can induce fear.  He wondered – what is the Joker afraid of?  A good question, to be sure.  However, after hitting him with the gas, there is no reaction at all.  Nothing happens.  The Joker proceeds to beat him with a chair, but it is the fact that there is no reaction whatsoever that is interesting.  He feels no fear at all.  Even the idea of his own death doesn’t frighten him.  It was one of the most hardcore moments in film when, in The Dark Knight, Batman throws him off of a building and he just laughs the whole way down.  Nothing scares this character, and in a way, that is even more terrifying than his natural inclination to do as he pleases.

Arkham Asylum and City JokerThe Dark Knight showed the Joker the way he was meant to be portrayed.  It really captured him in the best way possible.  The film showed a brilliant criminal mind who got bored with doing what normal criminals do.  His boredom led him to seek out Batman.  He spent that whole movie just trying to make a point – that Batman was just as corruptable as the rest of us.  He nearly destroyed half of Gotham to in the process, but that was the extent of what he wanted to do.  The little dialogue between Batman and the Joker at the police station showed it best.  He didn’t care about anything, other than chaos.

The Joker is a catharsis about the dark side of a part of us that we don’t acknowledge – the part that doesn’t want to obey the little niceties of society.  There is a reason that characters like Gregory House and Eric Cartman are so popular.  They represent the idea that we all, in some way, wish we could be a part of.  They don’t obey society’s rules.  They don’t follow the set way of thinking.  They do their own thing, and to hell with everybody else.  Let’s be honest, all of us wish that we could do that.  But the Joker is part of the darker side of that way of thinking.  Not only does he not want to follow the rules of society, but he actively seeks to destroy the rules as we understand them.  In his mind, chaos is the only actual truth in the world.  He may have a bit of a point there, but that is not important.

Another contradiction of this character is his physical prowess.  Some comics show the Joker as being a very capable combatant.  Others have him as being a very weak character, almost too frail for his own good.  All comics have him being very agile and quick, able to escape an area when things go wrong very quickly.  This contradiction is meaningless in the broad scheme of things, because it was never his muscles that he was attacking Batman with.  It was always a war of brains between two very brilliant characters who were both driven by impossibly complicated mental problems and even if his history was never explained, it is pretty much a given this the Joker’s way of doing things, he must have some pretty hardcore problems himself.

Another side that gives some interest to this is in how he treats his side-kick, Harley Quinn.  Harley genuinely loves him, even though he is openly abusive to her and seems to regard her as just a fun time between his jobs, or to kick around whenever he wants to.  However, he also seems to have some genuine affection himself for Harley.  It is a very strange perspective, which the animated series in the early 90’s added to an already complicated character.

This character is one of the most heinous of the villains that has ever existed in any comic book.  It was hinted in one that he has over 2,000 kills to his name.  His evil truly knows no bounds.  But he is also an example of what humanity could indeed become.  Mental madness means one thing, but when people are taught that mass killing is worthy of being canonized, then it may just be what happens to society at large.

Peace out,

Lucien

39 thoughts on “Character Analysis: The Joker

  1. i may be bad but there r some evil dudes out there and e joker is just 1 of em-hands down on heath ledgers performance in batman dark knight, outstanding execution of character, may his soul rest in peace.

    • He did well, but honestly, I loved Mark Hamill’s voice of the Joker in the animated series. He also captured the incredible amounts of darkness in the character very well. Thanks for the comment!

    • He’s not one of the ordinary evil dudes out there that you see.

      If you watch the Dark Knight carefully you would notice that Joker’s plans were all carried out from beginning till the end, and thus his plans went all accordingly to him; not many villains has the ability to make broad deliberate decisions.

      Not only in the Dark Knight movie but as well as animations of Batman. According to people in Gotham, Batman is the world’s greatest detective, and also has ability to fight off all evils; This forms a balance between Batman and the Joker.

  2. Well written article, the Joker has literally changed the way I view villains, no one compares to how great Ledger performed the Joker. I wish he was alive to be in the third and final movie

    • Yeah, there is an easy comparison to Ledger’s performance – Mark Hamill’s Joker from the Animated Series, as well as Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.

  3. speaking of heinous villains, check out the character ‘Moriarty’ as depicted in the sherlock tv series..Straying in a lot of ways from the conventional Prof. Moriarty that appears in the novels, this personae is just brilliantly insane!

  4. Such a wonderful analysis, despite the horrors the Joker has done. The most powerful portrayal for me was Heath Ledger’s one, I felt he really brought out the pure anarchy inside his mind. Thank you for this!

  5. Fucking awesome analysis of the Joker. I’m writing a paper for my college English class on how villains, like the Joker, express the very secret internal desires of society. My teacher had me bring this up in class and wow great reaction!

  6. Absolutely fantastic writing!

    The Joker (more specifically The Dark Knight’s version) is one of the most outstanding if not, then definitely the “most” outstanding villain/antagonist of all time in fiction, because he is unique, original and is in no way cliché.

    Where other typical “clichéd” villains tend to commit some really evil acts because they want to gain something of “value” (or something considered “good”) such as wealth or power (political or similar). E.G. Any villains with the megalomania complex (wanting to control everyone and everything, and rule the world with an iron fist))

    The Joker is rather completely indifferent to wealth and power he commits all these various acts of evil all for the sake of Fun, Joy, Laughter. He does what he does beause he imply does not give a Flying Fuck, it’s to spread his ideology or ‘madness’ and to try and change the rest of society’s views regarding what is “good” or “valuable”, or perhaps “true”. To him those things people constantly struggle and fight so desperately for, or so desperately try to control are nothing but “delusions”.

    To me, this is the Joker’s epic quote: “It’s not about money it’s about sending a message. Everything burns!!”

    And believe it or not coming from a very existentially nihilistic view of myself I realized his message is quite rather Ultimately TRUE because one day everything “will” burn, specifically when the sun becomes a Red Giant, or becomes a SuperNova. Becuase when that happens it’s adios planet earth, adios humanity, adios pretty much everything, even everything I just typed.

    Death, Destruction, Extinction, (and possibly Despair); it is all Inevitable is what I am trying to say, and even if humanity and society lasts as long to witness such a fateful event, though I highly doubt our species will even last that long. There are so many other existential risks we simply can not avoid nor escape.

  7. The Joker is totally wicked cool. I love him he, he does everything that I wish I could become inclined to without worrying about consequences and being condemned. Your description of him is incredible, this’ll really help me for my project.

  8. I think calling joker as a villain is an understatement. He a character. He is the embodiment of bare truth of existence; aimless & causeless.
    We are afraid of this aimless & causeless nature of life & existence; hence we attach ourselves to some cause or emotion or purpose. That feeling helps us to feel that we are useful. Although we don’t like boundaries & we hate bonds that reduce our capacity to reach the maximum heights or depths of our existence, we feel secure with all the boundaries & bonds. It gives us an escape route for non performance…for not identifying any feeling or emotion in it’s full glory.
    We need consistency from others hence we accept the burden of being consistent to others. Our heroes are the people who can be consistent in the most adverse conditions & who wont succumb to each feeling or emotion that arises in them. The one who can suppress all the feelings or all the emotions for any one stated feeling or emotion that he stands for , is our true hero.
    Joker the other hand,enjoy being in existence without boundaries, bonds, causes & purposes. He lives in the moment. He is like the card of Joker in the pack of cards, having no stated purpose & can be used as wild card. He finds our mad rush to stick to one principle or one purpose to be really funny. He finds it amusing that we need to consider any one emotion or feeling to be superior than the other. He finds our efforts to create consistent social systems to be too fragile since, we ourselves are not accepting inconsistent nature of all nature of emotions & feelings.
    He then takes potshots at us & at everything that we value or want to maintain at supreme level of human society. He is not a villain interested in destroying Gotham but he is a character who is like a mad dog chasing cars, having no reason for doing so & most importantly being absolutely comfortable about that.

  9. Joker, well what I feel is that he isn’t really a bad person… He is just someone who has a different perspective.. As it was said in the movie.. He says he’s ahead of the curve. He wants to prove that he’s worth something, because in many of his past lives.. He’s suffered and it always showed him trying to prove who he is. And the extent to which he tries to prove to batman that he’s worth it, goes to a level where chaos is the only way to prove Batman that he could do anything. In fact, many times he’s even said that Batman was a bigger villain than he is because Batman’s duty was to stop evil.. But would mean stopping Joker from proving his worth. Ones happiness is someone else’s sadness! Batman and Joker are the same but have different perspectives and the movie helped us realize that! Joker is a genius but we have all perceived him to be a bad guy when what we don’t really know is.. He’s just like one of us… Trying to prove people that we are worth something! But just that he’s outcasted.. And obviously that loneliness must’ve made him insane and sadistic, making him want to prove his worth even more; and how? By doing things so drastically that it’ll annoy Batman! Joker knows Batman’s principles will not kill him, and also wants to prove that Joker’s existence is Batman’s own selfish intention…
    Joker is a genius! And I’m glad to have read majority of the Batman comics and I’m glad Batman and Joker coexist and show people that.. There’s more than meets the eye.. Before you judge somebody.. Know who they are! Joker.. Did not live a good life and maybe due to the fact that he hated himself so much that he believed that everybody else didn’t deserve to live.. Because of his existence! Hence killed people..
    I apologize if I’ve made a confusing analogy of Joker, but I felt it would be nice to give out my opinions of Joker.
    Also one more point, in the movie, the interrogation scene.. Where he tells Batman “Don’t talk like one of them..”- this was the line which tested Batman’s faith in civilians… After all that Batman had done.. he was always chased.. And treated as an outcast.. He was treated the same way as Joker did, and Joker wanted Batman to know that after all this.. These Civilians would still treat.. Him differently..

  10. I’m sorry but he is a full profile of psychopath !! I don’t know who told you psychopaths don’t feel emotions but according to my reaserch on this subject psychopaths actually feels emotions the trick is they don’t feel it deeply like us the normal people they are shallow and that what the joker is and the very significant thing about psychopaths is not that they don’t feel emotions !! its about that they don’t feel remours whatsoever even if they kill someone or hurt them all they care about is having fun that’s what joker is and their definition of fun is disturbed and twisted into something dark !! also psychopaths = pure evil that’s written in history about them before psychology analysis also had been called several time that they are the devil . and have a unique way of killing or signature like the joker even batman already called him a psychopath in the game of Batman Arkham City & Arkham Origin .

  11. Pingback: Anatomie du Joker dans “The Dark Knight” | Adeline Arénas

  12. The Joker is a textbook psychopath. Psychopaths do not lack ALL emotion, they specifically lack social emotions (like emotional empathy and general remorse), and experience all other emotions on a much smaller and short-lived scale than “normal” people. Anger they feel in full force, though not for long.
    Secondly, he is not psychotic. Insanity is a mask he wears as an image to reflect his agency to chaos. He does not, as far as we can tell, experience hallucinations or paranoid/irrational thinking, unless you consider his unrelenting and extreme anarchy to be due to psychotic/confused thinking. Obviously, lots of sane people have been extreme anarchists. They’re not crazy, just trouble makers.

  13. Joker is a weird character. He is biggest strength is the mind games, which is weird for a crazy person, but fun as well. My fav Joker is the one from Batman TAS.

    I didnt like Nolan’s batman trilogy, for many reasons… Bale never felt like Batman to me, his voice and mask were unpleasant, etc. I’m glad that in the trilogy we get an (on purpose) conflicting Joker’s origin story, I think it’s something that fits the character well. But I dont appreciate the fact that Joker’s philosophy is also conflicting.

    The joker admits that ” Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it. You know, I just… do things. The mob has plans, the cops have plans… You know, they’re schemers. Schemers trying to control their little worlds. I’m not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are.”
    But Joker has plans. Plans things before hand. Like the bomb in the prisoner’s belly. You might say that Joker lied once more, but I choose to believe that when Joke was talking, he was telling the truth because the scene felt sincere. He had no purpose in lying, other than pissing off Batman, which might be a legit argument. But if everything Joker is saying is a pure waste of time, why dont we just ignore him?

    Fictional characters aside, Joker only lives because he is an iconic character and DC cant kill him, so they make up excuses to keep him alive. In “The Dark Knight Returns”, joker dies but I guess that comic is considered non-canon. I know that by disliking the trilogy and the “Dark Knight Returns” I’m making my self a target, but I just dont buy a few key elements of these stories. In “The Dark Knight Returns” for example… a random untrained 13year old girl becomes Robin and does back flips. Such things make me angry, because Im feeling that the writers dont respect their audience.

    So I guess.. the one thing I dont get about joker is his philosophy. Why he does what he does. Some times he wants money, some times he toys with Batman, sometimes he kills people. Arkham surely needs a better security system and the state should have reinstated the death penalty even if Batman doesnt want to kill the Joker. All that, if we wanted to go for realism.

  14. I like the Joker as much as I do because I understand him…. a littl too well at times. *Choughs* Anyway… I think that the reason he is so obsessed with Batman is not just ‘to prove a point’, it is because… well… it’s complicated, and some parts I can onlyguess at, but… I suspect he finds a meaning in life in corrupting him. When you have a certain mental state there is nothing you want more than to drag everyone down into the shit you’re inn. When you’re corrupted enough, you want to corrupt everyone else, -especially- those innocent. And Batman IS just that. On the flipside of that psychological coin, you also, deep down…mh… it’s hard to put words to this… it’s not that you don’t want to succeed, you do… but so long as there is one person whom remains an innocent (for lack of a better word) you have a… hope/reminecent of your own lost innocence… whatever to call it. It’s a love/hate relationship. He refuse to kill Batman, I would hypotesize he would even save him should he need to, because he NEEDS him alive. If he got his wish, if he managed to corrupt him, and he do try SO hard…. but if he succeeded, he would be dissepointed. And even more dissillutioned with the workd than he already is.

    I also suspect one reason why he has no fear, or a part of the reason, is because he sees himself for the monster he is. And as much as he takes pride in that, he also feels he deserves whatever horrors he gets, and death… while he would never seek it out… would free him from the nightmare that is his life. He also seem to take great pleasure in misery, and doesn’t really care if it’s himself or others that suffer.

  15. THe Relationship between Harley Quinn and The Joker interests me..and would like this to be explained more to me. One can see Harley Quinn as his partner in crime although who is corrupting who? Harley Quinn is the epitome of anti-woman..all that is symbolic of maternity and earth mother as she has the same destructive nature as the Joker….Does he really Love her and Vica versa? or is he loving the fact that he can coerce and corrupt her easily, therefore making her a female version of himself….to justify his antics of mayhem. The Joker persona is the classic Borderline…taking himself down and the world with him…

  16. in analysing the joker one has to be careful to accord him rationality..ie “he is super sane” The only thing that scares the Joker is not death (this is insane!)but being revealed for who he is…….hence all his little tricks to decieve..shine the spotlight on him and he will scurry away petrified .Because his motive is Control. He controls the chaos. And if bared naked will be a diminished person, vulnerable and not in control. If that is what a psychopath is, then he is a psychopath. I did read recently (Psychology Today, Oct.2016)) that psychopaths do have empathy but it is not on by default. They can switch it on or off at their choosing. Meaning that it does not come naturally to them.

  17. Pingback: Muvi Critics: Suicide Squad (2016) and Bad- Quality Joker

  18. I wanna say to everyone that is like dissing him can suck my dick ( No I don’t have a dick, its a figure of speech I use) like this person took the time to write it, and all you people come along and diss it. If you don’t like how he approached it then MAKE YOUR OWN FUCKING BLOG ON YOUR PROSPECTIVE OKAY. Stop dissing this guy. This is the best shit I’ve ever read straight up.
    ( And if you people are gonna start to say I’m ” Being offensive to tran genders ” or what ever, you can fuck off cause I’m not. Its a figure of speech)

    And respect bro respect

    ~ Yours sincerely
    The bitch who don’t give a fuck bout your opinion xxxx

  19. joker is a psychopath troller
    some new study that troll are narcissist psychopath and sadistic

    yes its possible to be 3 at the same times

  20. Lucien you embodies everything a narrator wants to be… i like the fact that how cautiously optimistic you really are and to hold that notion that the world indeed can become sin city.. although it is debated all around the world, i personally believe that heath ledger is the best of all time.. even his soul wherever it is would indeed the agent of chaos…

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