WTFAW: The Dark Knight

I suppose returning to the subject of Batman sooner or later was inevitable. I shouldn’t really be surprised that there are more theories about the caped crusader to annoy me. On the bright side, there’s just one theory to cover today.

Dave: And this fan theory is about The Dark Knight. 

Hooray… What have you found for me today, then?

Dave: I think you’re gonna like this. In The Dark Knight, The Joker is actually the hero!

I’m sorry, but I don’t think I heard you correctly. For a moment, I could have sworn you said that The Joker was the hero in The Dark Knight.

Dave: That’s what I said.

Ok… I’m going to be honest, you’ve piqued my interest. I know I should probably be angry, but I genuinely cannot wait to hear the arguments here.

Dave: Well, before the Joker entered the picture, Gotham was shock full of corrupt politicians, organized crime was out of control, and there was active vigilantism. Thanks to the Joker, that all changed.

But… he doesn’t actually do anything heroic in the movie.

Dave: No? Doesn’t he steal money from a mob controlled bank?

Yes, but that’s not exactly heroic. Especially not when he used part of that money to buy his purple suit!

Dave: But that robbery was part of his plan to force Lau out of hiding.

Oh yeah,  because Lau was so hard to find, right? That’s why he was in a business meeting with Wayne Enterprises…

In fact, Lau wasn’t hiding until AFTER the Joker robbed the bank. And the reason for that wasn’t just the Joker, but the Gotham Police rapidly closing in on the mob, taking down money laundering operations. To ensure his own safety and prevent the money from being captured, Lau hid the money and disappeared.

Which is another very important point. You say that before the Joker, organized crime was rampant? The leaders of the mob were getting desperate, with Batman, the GCPD and District Attorney Harvey Dent cutting down their operations!

And when they found that not only had Lau been captured, but also about to betray them all? THAT is when they hired the Joker, who went on a killing spree!

Dave: I told you. He killed corrupt officials.

Were we watching the same movie? He kidnaps a Batman-copycat, whom he then tortures and murders on camera, before vowing that every day Batman fails to unmask himself ”People will die”. He then kills commissioner Loeb and Judge Surillo. Loeb was head of the GCPD and Surillo was the judge presiding over the trials against the mobsters brought in by Dent and Gordon.

And the third target? Harvey Dent.

NONE of these were shown as corrupt! The Joker only targeted them because they were big names that would get attention!

When he failed to kill Dent, he killed two innocent people, Patrick Harvey and Richard Dent, and then attempted to murder the mayor by posing as an honor guard.

Where exactly is the heroism here? So far, his targets have been one vigilante, three officials with no signs of corruption, two innocent people who just happened to share a name with an official, and the mayor. Seems to me he is pretty indiscriminate about who he targets.

Because the point isn’t to root out corruption. It’s to force Batman to surrender himself! That’s the only reason!

He then arranges for the kidnapping of an innocent woman, has her tied to a chair in a room full of gasoline and proceeds to BLOW HER TO KINGDOM COME!

Dave: I can explain that, if you’ll give me the chance.

Alright, I’ll play along. But I suggest you make your explanation amazingly good.

Dave: The Joker wanted to stop Batman, because vigilante justice is wrong. But if he simply KILLS Batman, he just creates a martyr, a symbol that inspires copycats. That’s not gonna work. However, if Batman kills Dent, he becomes a criminal and Dent becomes a martyr and inspiring symbol. So the Joker sends Batman to the wrong address, because he wants Harvey to go insane, forcing Batman to eventually kill him.

Oh dear god… That is the most insane gibberish I’ve heard in a long time! Firstly, if he wanted Batman destroyed and his symbol demolished, Batman being unmasked and revealed as just a man would be much easier.

Dave: I suppose…

So when Coleman Reese is about to reveal who Batman is, effectively destroying the vigilante and reducing his symbol to nothing, what does the Joker do?

He says that unless Reese dies in 60 minutes, he’ll BLOW UP A HOSPITAL! Because Gotham without Batman is BORING!

Secondly, you say that he wants Batman gone because “vigilante justice is wrong“? Then, if we assume (wrongly) that this theory was true, what does that make the Joker? Isn’t what he does also vigilante justice, the thing he supposedly believes is wrong?

And isn’t it funny that the Joker, this supposed ”hero”, kills several police officers in his escape from the station, then takes Lau and BURNS HIM ALIVE?

Not only that, but as a direct result of his actions, Harvey goes out and kills several people!

Dave: Harvey killed the corrupt officers that kidnapped him and Rachel.

But those officers were taking orders from the Joker! The Joker set that up! If he just wanted them dead, why didn’t he just kill them!?

You know why the Joker wanted Harvey to go insane?

It’s because, when Lau was in custody, he turned over the names of all his clients. This meant they could prosecute and incarcerate the 549 men making up the entire mob.

This, coupled with the ”Dent Act”, passed after Dents death, meant that none of them could be granted parole. THIS is what wiped out organized crime in Gotham, not the Joker.

What the Joker wanted was to UNDO all that! And you know why?

To break Gotham. To show them that even someone as noble as Harvey Dent is really no better than the criminals he prosecutes. Harvey’s killing spree was meant to render all his efforts to wipe out organized crime pointless. All the people he’d put behind bars would be released! The Joker didn’t want to make a martyr. He wanted for the one glimmer of hope in Gotham to be extinguished!

The Joker is not a fucking hero! He’s a homicidal maniac who wants to kill, maim, torture and destroy, for its own sake! He even explains it to the Chechen, right before he feeds him to his own dogs.

All you care about is money. This town deserves a better class of criminal, and I’m gonna give it to ’em.

What that means, is that he’s a criminal who doesn’t bother with money. He doesn’t NEED money, and he doesn’t do things for monetary gain. He just wants to kill, for the hell of it.

See, I have been ignoring this up until now because I was curious about your reasoning, but I think now is as good a time as any to mention it. There’s this nagging issue with this theory, on a basic level.

Dave: And that is…?

You’re saying the Joker is the hero.

I’m just astonished that you can say that sentence seriously.

I am dumbfounded that apparently, I have to explain to you that the Joker isn’t, and almost by definition CAN NOT be a hero, except possibly by accident. And really, if him sticking bombs on a pair of ferries as part of a ”social experiment” didn’t tip you off, I don’t know what chance I have!

Dave: Ah, but that was his way of showing the people of Gotham that there were good people among them! He proved even the worst of them wouldn’t turn on each other when it mattered.

Oh for the love of… So you’re saying that was the point?

Dave: Yes.

To uplift their spirit?

Dave: Yes!

To show them how good they were when it truly mattered and how they are good people?

Dave: Exactly!

…And then blow them up anyway?

Dave: Wait what?

Did you seriously just forget that he had a detonator of his own, and if not for Batman, he would have blown both ships up?

Dave: Uhm…

See, this is what I mean! You have no fucking idea what a hero is! Heroes don’t murder innocents for ”the greater good”. Heroes don’t put acid in peoples drinks or blow them up! They don’t take pleasure “savoring all the little emotions” of killing people with a knife! They don’t take hostages and dress them up as goons, hoping that they will get shot when the SWAT team barges in!

These are not heroic acts! They are the actions of a deranged sociopathic monster!

Dave: Well, couldn’t he be an anti-hero?

Again, anti-heroes don’t kill innocent people! For example, Wolverine is an anti-hero. Riddick is an anti-hero. Rorschach from Watchmen is an anti-hero. There ARE characters with the kind of “ends justify the means” mentality that you describe.

Characters like Ra’s Al Ghul or Dr. Doom. While they may have good intentions and noble goals, they do not shy away from hurting or killing innocents to achieve their goals. Guess what! That still makes them villains!

And as for the Joker? If you look up the word “Psychopath” in the dictionary, you know what you’ll find?

Dave: Uh… a picture of the Joker?

No, the definition of the word “Psychopath“, WHICH THE JOKER FUCKING IS!


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Assassin’s Creed IV (Yet Again)

Some of you might be wondering why I’ve decided to write about Assassin’s Creed IV again, seeing as I’ve written about it twice before.

The reason for this little revisit is that I decided to play through the game again recently. And on a second playthrough, where I wasn’t distracted by the story and character development, I started noticing some new things about the game, which got me thinking.

Which brings me to the points I’d like to talk about today.

Now, one observation I made was that, to me, the Jackdaw seems a bit… small.

You can perhaps see my reasoning. After all, let’s go over, in brief, what the Jackdaw carries when fully upgraded.

  • 46 cannons.
  • 4 chase cannons.
  • 2 Mortars
  • Ammunition for all of those.
  • 40 Fire Barrels
  • Accomodation for 40 men
  • 1 heavy whaling boat
  • 1 massive metal diving bell
  • space for a total of 10 000 pounds (roughly 4.5 metric tons) of sugar, rum, wood, metal and cloth.
  • presumably supply storage for food, weapons etc

And with the exception of the mortars and 12 cannons, all that would be kept below deck.

All that, to me, seemed at best unlikely for a brig.

However, I’m not comfortable going into that in detail, because I don’t know enough about ships of the era to make decisive, informed statements.

(It doesn’t help that apparantly, standardization for ships wasn’t really a thing at the time, so researching it was a lot of effort that amounted to exactly fuck all…)

All I will say is that firstly, considering a cannon of the period required 3 gunners, and the jackdaw has a grand total of 46 guns and a maximum crew capacity of 40 men, at least 9 of whom are needed to simply sail the ship?

By my count, I am missing at least 38 people for an effective crew. And that’s not counting officers.

For gods sake, Blackbeards ship, the Queen Annes Revenge, is alleged to have had 44 cannons, as in two cannons fewer than the jackdaw, and that was a FRIGATE!

And secondly, there’s the idea of a ”cargo upgrade”. Again, not an expert on ships, but how the hell would that work? How do you upgrade cargo capacity in a ship with a finite amount of space? Shouldn’t I already use the maximum amount of room?

This leads me to another point which, while admittedly unfair in terms of programming, at least is more valid in terms of logic.

And it is this: why can’t you switch ships?

In this game, you are playing as a pirate. A fictional pirate, I admit, but a pirate nonetheless. Now, we know for a fact that pirates didn’t just stop by ships, steal stuff and then leave. Many times, they would seize the ship, especially if they felt the new ship was superior to the old. It makes sense, seeing as a pirate can’t exactly pull into a wharf and comission a new ship when the old one is worn out.

The most famous historical examples of this would probably be the aforementioned Queen Anne’s Revenge, and Bartholomew Roberts’ Royal Fortune, a name that would often pass from ship to ship as they were seized. Note also that both of these pirates appear in the game.

So you would think that, if anyone would follow a similar practise, it’d be Edward Kenway, who throughout the majority of the game seeks wealth and power, as part of his character arc.

Over the course of the game, Edward captures brigs, frigates and Men o’ War left, right and center, and in fact, he seizes several ships to form his own personal fleet.

And yet, over his 7 year piracy career, he sticks with the same ship, through hell and high water.

I mean, it’s not like the game prevents you from climbing onto another ship and kill all the soldiers on board without harming the ship first. At that point, I’ve captured the ship!

I’m just saying, it’d be a pretty cool mechanic, to be able to decide ”I don’t want to use a brig anymore. I want to use a Man o’ War now. Let’s capture one!

There are missions in the game that has you controlling a frigate and a Man o’ War, so clearly the mechanics are there! However, it’s just one of those mechanics you toy with briefly in the game, rather than something more incorporated in the game.

Now, you can see how this mechanic could work, right? Different ships would have different perks, of course. Bigger ships like frigates or galleons have more guns and armor, but are much slower and less maneuverable, and prevents access to certain areas because of size. Brigs would be faster and more maneuverable, but more vulnerable, with a ramming attack, and schooners would be very quick and nimble, relying more on darting in front of the enemy and dropping fire barrels.

If nothing else, that would actually give the fire barrels a legitimate use, whereas now, they’re more trouble than they’re worth. After all, you can either drop a fire barrel on a pursuer, hoping they hit it, or just turn the ship round and blast them with a few broadsides.

Not a difficult choice.

And schooners and brigs would of course be a bit too small for, say, a diving bell or for whaling. Decently balanced, no ship would be perfect, but all would be unique and useful in their own way.

And if you want to get another ship? Just head out and get a new one! You’re a pirate, it’s what you do!

And finally, I’d like to share some more notes about the Legendary Ships, a subject I’ve mentioned on previous occasions.

The first thing is that on I discovered something pretty crucial about the battle against the HMS Fearless and The Royal Sovereign, AKA the Brothers-in-Arms, a pair of Men O’ War that fight in tandem.

The thing about this battle is that it makes no fucking sense! See, for the most part, the fight is pretty straightforward. The two ships work together, attempting to box you in and hit you with double broadsides. They’re also very fast and have a really impressive range.

This, I can understand.

But once you manage to sink one of them, things take a sudden turn towards complete madness.

Because as soon as one of them sinks, the other ship immediatly SETS ITSELF ON FUCKING FIRE  and tries to ram you!

Now, I’m not an expert on military strategy, but I’m pretty sure SETTING FIRE TO YOURSELF is a pretty bad fucking plan, regardless of what type of battle you’re fighting!


Now, I would understand if this was some last ditch final attack, from a captain and crew knowing full well they’re not going to survive the fight. It would actually be a pretty interesting mechanic to have the final ship, when its health reached a certain point, just set itself ablaze and did a kamikaze run. Maybe the health starts slowly dropping, and a timer appears.

Suddenly, it becomes a race against time, to get away from the suicidal ship and crew, avoiding the devastating ram attack. And then, when the timer reaches zero, the ship explodes and sinks!

But no! Appearantly, the captain of this ship (who I remind you, is supposed to be a real person, commanding a real navy ship) saw the other ship sink, and ordered all hands on board to douse their perfectly fine, pristine and unharmed ship in oil and light it up like a roman candle! And the crew FUCKING AGREED WITH HIM!

Keep in mind, this isn’t some tiny sloop or worn out barge. This is a royal navy war ship, with a crewsize of about 300 people! And NOBODY thought “Hey, maybe burning the ship we’re on isn’t the best possible strategy“!?

What kind of lunatic fucking logic is that!? Even if they manage to destroy the Jackdaw, they still lose, because THEIR SHIP IS ON FIRE!

In what universe does it make any sense for a war ship, that can fire mortars and a 52 cannon broadside, to set itself on fire because another ship has sunk rather than, oh I don’t know… use those cannons to destroy the enemy vessel!?

And the most astounding thing of all? They did the same fucking thing in Assassin’s Creed: Rogue!

Now, I have one other issue with these Legendary Ships. See, they are legendary and special and awesome, supposedly the most fearsome ships to stalk the West Indies. So surely, ships like that would be pretty famous, right?

Well, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only are they not famous, but there is no evidence they ever existed at all!

The only one vaguely related to a real ship is HMS Prince. There WAS a ship around that period with that name, originally the HMS Ossory, then renamed HMS Prince, HMS Princess and finally HMS Princess Royal.

And while that ship was around in the early 1700’s, it wasn’t sunk, but was broken up… in 1773…

Now, maybe this is just me, but wouldn’t it be more interesting to have legendary ships that actually WERE legendary?

In fact, I believed that was the plan when I first encountered a legendary ship, namely HMS Prince. In the game, the crew cry out that it’s a ghost ship risen from the sea. Of course, I got excited, until I realized that no, it just LOOKED like a ghost ship. That’s all.

But that begs the question: Why wasn’t that a thing? Imagine if, instead of El Impoluto, you fight the fucking FLYING DUTCHMAN? Wouldn’t that be pretty damn cool?

And yes, I know what some of you are thinking. This is supposed to be alternate history, not some fantasy stuff. Ghosts aren’t real, so how would they justify that?

Simple! The framing device for the game is that you’re working for a video game company. Just have an email or an encounter where your boss tells you the programmers have been working on some concepts for the ”Devils of the Carribean” game, and seeing as you’ve done such a good job, they’re giving you a sneak peak, which if anyone asks, they can just call ”Beta testing”.

Cue appearances of the Legendary ships on the map!

And finding examples of ghostly ships? Not a problem.

The Flying Dutchman, The obvious candidate, well known in pop culture, which is said to have sunk around the Cape of Good Hope, and since then appearing to sailors as an omen of doom.

Palatine, a ship that, according to folklore and a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, ran aground around Rhode Island, being lured by false beacons and then robbed, its crew murdered and the ship itself burned.

The Ghost Ship of Northumberland Strait, said to be the apparition of a burning ship (not unlike what happens to one of the twin ships in the game already), claimed to appear near New Brunswick in Canada. In fact, The Baie De Chaleur is also described as a burning, three mast ship, seen around the area. Suppose that, instead of the HMS Fearless and Royal Sovereign, you could have The Northumberland Ghost and The Baie De Chaleur in a two-against-one sea battle?

Caleuche, A ghost ship in Chilean mythology, described as a beautiful, three mast sailing ship.

The designs, you can just make up, and you can play a bit loose with the quirks. I’m not going to pretend I’m  great writer, but here are a few ideas:

The Palatine just creates a ghostly fog during the battle, The Caleuche slowly regenerates, the twin fire ships occasionally doing a burning ram attack, and the Dutchman appears in the middle of a storm, and occasionally teleports/disappears beneath the waves. Sounds pretty interesting, in my humble opinion.

That’s four different ghost ship battles, and coming up with those ideas weren’t all that difficult, truth be told.

Even the fact they’re not accurate for the period or area can be handwaved by actually lampshading it in the game. Have an email where someone points it out, and a response that players won’t care about details like that, artistic license and/or ”the programmers just wanted to show off”.


And just like that, you have covered yourself, while simultaneously making some really interesting naval battles with legendary ships that actually ARE legendary! Worst case scenario, people fighting the Flying Dutchman get upset there isn’t an tentacle faced Bill Nighy on board!

Or… you know, make up a ship, call it ”legendary” and forbid us from replaying it, for no adequatly explained reason.

That works too, I guess…