The Joker. Quite simply: the greatest villain of all-time.
He is such a great character that I often find myself rooting for the Joker to win instead of the hero. His motivation is simple: insanity. Most villains are bent on world domination but not Mr. J. He does things simply because it amuses him. His complicated death traps, poison squirting boutonnières, and signature purple suit don’t just intimidate his victims and puzzle his adversaries. They make him laugh. In every incarnation of the Joker, from films, cartoons, or comic books I always find myself disappointed when he isn’t triumphant.
In Batman: The Killing Joke we find the Joker trying to make one simple little point: The only difference between normalcy and insanity is just one bad day. He goes to great lengths to prove his point by kidnapping the Commissioner and shooting his daughter. And through the course of events I started to realize that maybe The Joker is right? After all, Batman is clearly insane. Why else would he dress up as a flying rodent and hide in the dark?
And before I could put the pieces together myself I see the Joker deduce something clearly obvious to him: Batman once had a bad day too. Needless to say I was disheartened when that infernal Batman foiled Mr. J’s plans. And people can say what they want about the ending, I for one like to believe it was simply too adversaries with mutual respect for one another sharing a good laugh.
The next time I found myself rooting for The Clown Prince of Crime was in an underappreciated gem of an episode from Justice League Unlimited titled: “Wild Cards”. Placing bombs through the Las Vegas Strip daring The Justice League to try and find them. He dispatches The Royal Flush gang to further complicate the League’s efforts. All while having his own personal TV crews broadcast the showdown live on the air.
And Mr. J isn’t really trying to kill the League, he’s only trying to boost ratings for his show and get as many viewers as possible. When the Joker’s real plans are revealed I can do nothing more than applaud his masterful schemes. Creating mayhem is more than a labor of love for him, its artwork. And while I’m hooting and hollering because Mr. J is finally going to be victorious; he is betrayed someone very close to him.
The last time I believed The Joker would finally have his day in the sun was in The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger’s brilliant performance as an agent of chaos had me questioning my own sanity. After witnessing his “pencil trick” I too wanted to die my hair green and wear a lavender coat. Every step of the way The Joker’s plans got bigger and more grandiose. Kidnapping the DA and his girlfriend, assassinating the mayor, and blowing up hospitals.
Most of the time we are led to believe The Joker is doing this for monetary compensation. But I knew better. I knew that when Mr. J finally got his hands on all that loot he was going to show those mob bosses that he is more than just a mere street thug. He’s an idealist. A man of principle. When we finally get to see his true plans for Gotham City it was like a crescendo of events. Unfortunately, once again The God Damned Batman shows up to ruin all the fun.
The Joker transcends the comic book medium and is easily on par with the likes of Dr. Hannibal Lector, Professor Moriarty, and Darth Vader. I hope someone at DC Comics is listening. Give the Joker his due! Create an Elseword’s story! Show me a parallel universe where The Joker’s vision is finally realized. Give me a hypothetical look into a dystopian future laid out in a 12 issue maxi-series. Do something, anything. Please DC, make my dreams come true: Let The Joker Win!