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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