Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Why So Serious? Part 2

Yay! More Joker! :)

Today, I would like to blog about why I think Mister J chose "The Joker" as his pseudonym. 

Just a quick note first though...

This is based off of the Christopher Nolan trilogy. I have never read a superhero comic, much less a Batman comic, in my life. I have scoured the wikis, however, so I think I know enough about the Joker to write a decent character analysis on him.

Okay, now let's get started!

When you think of the word "joker", what do you think of? (Other than the illustrious clown prince of chaos, of course.) Personally, the first two things that pop into my mind are the joker cards and the Medieval jester. Which one was the Joker portraying?

Well, the immediate answer would be the card. They are used in the movies, after all. I'm going to follow that train of thought and then get back to the Medieval jester.

In games that use the joker cards, the card is never considered good. It could possible ruin the entire game for you. Often, the goal of the player is to get rid of the joker card as quick as possible...usually by tricking another player into taking it. It's chaotic and causes people to panic. It doesn't matter how many aces or kings you have, you don't want the joker card.

I think the Joker was portraying the card because he was trying to force people to show who they really are. When people panic, you get to see their true colors. The Joker says as much in the movie. He is taunting a security guard by arguing that he knew his friends better than the guard did because he got to see them in their last moments...panicking. And of course, there is the ferry "social experiment," which ultimately fails. The Joker was trying to prove that people only care about survival and that, without rules, they will destroy one another.

When playing a game with the joker card, players try to trick their friends into taking the card away from them. They arrange it in their hands so it would be the most likely to be picked if the game allows that, they trade it for another card, anything to get rid of it. All because they want to win. Of course, card games are just Life is different. Most people will not just shoot their friends so they can live.

But the Joker doesn't realize that. He looks at life like it is one enormous game, filled with hypocritical cheaters and rule breakers. He's a depressed, sadistic, and proud human, who believes he is above the rest of humanity, above the game. He believes he has the power to change the rules. So he makes himself a card, a morbid twist in the game, to try and prove that no human can truly play the game.

So where does Batman fit into this immense, complicated, and simple game? Batman is what caused the Joker to emerge, after all. Before Batman, I believe the Joker was someone who "played" both the mob and the police, manipulating them both so that he was the only winner...but he remained anonymous about it, spending his time contemplating the "game." When Batman emerged, I think the Joker saw a chance to become a visual image of his game.

I think he saw Batman as an "Ace of Spades", if you will. The Ace of Spades can often help you win a battle in a card game, and possibly the entire game, if you play your cards well. But the Ace does not usually determine the outcome of the game. The Joker usually does.

So in conclusion, I think the Joker chose the "Joker" because of the card. He wanted to personify chaos so that people would panic.

BUT, there are some interesting correlations with the jester too.

In Medieval times, a jester or "joker" would often travel from court to court, entertaining. If people liked him, he would be rewarded. If they didn't like him, he would often be thrown out of the castle, or occasionally, beaten or even killed!

Comedians, modern day "jokers", often say that they want to make people laugh because it helps them. Tim Hawkins, one of my favorite comedians, has talked about how much he likes making people laugh because it's good for them. He has spoken about how touched he has been when people come up to him after a show and say things like, "I have cancer and I haven't laughed since I heard the news, so thank you!"

One of my favorite little nuances in the movie is the Joker's truck. It's stolen from a fairgrounds of some sort, and the side reads, "Laughter is the best medicine." Except the Joker has painted a bright red "S" in front of "laughter." He honestly believes that slaughter will help him, and other people, see the light. It will help them play the game.

So am I arguing that the Joker is just a confused guy trying to help people? Absolutely not. I don't believe there is a speck in his brain that is insane or confused. The Joker thinks he's better than the rest of humanity. He thinks he can break the rules and mold the game. But in the end, he is simply an angry, proud, immature, bratty human. He's not so "untouchable" when put in those terms.

Back to my Medieval point...the Joker tested different people, manipulating them, seeing who would laugh and join him, and who would beat him and throw him out. Harvey joined. Batman didn't. I don't know if that was done on purpose or not, but it is an interesting correlation that I thought I would bring up.

Next Joker post will be on how and why he affected the different characters in the film, namely, Batman and Harvey Dent.


  1. that was well done!

  2. Very nice. I hadn't thought of the jester correlation before, but I like them. I think Nolan is going to go down in history as creating the "definitive" movie Batman. (The others are okay... but kinda silly)

    Haven't read the comics either (as comic books for some unknown reason give me an instant splitting headache)... but have seen lots of the cartoons, so I tend to base my images of the story/characters off of those more than anything else. I'm a big fan of the Justice League cartoons (they're on Netflix) and the sequel (Justice League Unlimited). As well as the 1990 Batman cartoons. I like superhero cartoons. LOL

  3. Thank you!

    I've seen a few episodes of the 1990 Batman cartoons. That's the one with Mark Hamill as the Joker right? I thought he did a great job too! I find myself kinda liking and kinda being annoyed AND kinda feeling sorry for Harley Quinn in the few clips I saw. I think it would have been interesting to see a Nolanverse Harley personally.

    I don't like reading comics either. They are too bright and crazy and just...dizzying, I guess. Glad I'm not the only one!

    1. Yes, actually, Mark Hamill plays the Joker in more than just that series. And the same guy almost always plays the voice of Batman in all the different cartoons, which I think is cool.

      Mark Hamill also plays the voice of the evil fire lord in the Last Airbender cartoon. Random trivia. :)