Why We Love The Joker
The Joker has become a fan favorite, and not just for people who love DC Comics collectibles. Joaquin Phoenix claimed the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of The Joker himself in Todd Phillips’ Joker. Heath Ledger also won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
Why do we love The Joker? And what is so powerful about this powerless villain?
To The Joker, the loonier it is, the better. Nothing should be rational, nothing should make sense, and no crime should be perfectly predictable. Instead, The Joker represents something more: Chaos. In fact, it’s only through his convoluted conundrums and crimes that Batman continues to develop new and exciting technology. The more chaotic The Joker gets, the more skilled Batman must be to defeat him.
The Joker believes that The Batman wouldn’t exist without him, and frankly, the fans agree. So we love the chaos. We love seeing the world crackling in the flames of The Joker’s fire just so we can see Batman put it out. And since no one can predict what The Joker will do next, we’re constantly on the edge of our seats.
DC Comics released a series called White Knight where Doctor Harleen Quinzel makes a cure for The Joker‘s insanity, and The Batman violently forces it down his throat in front of all of Gotham to see. Batman is no longer trusted, and The Joker finally becomes a sane Jack Napier. Napier is able to tackle corruption in the city in a way that Batman never could.
White Knight proves that even the best of us, Batman himself, cannot prevent or predict corruption. Batman has been fighting crime for years, and yet the Batman Devastation Fund was used to bankroll corrupt politicians and make the rich even richer. Despite Bruce Wayne’s best efforts, this feeling of systematic corruption permeates our society.
It’s just like The Joker said. All it takes is just one bad day for even the best of us to fall. When fans read about The Joker, we get to see The Batman at his worst. We get to see Batman break his moral codes, and make harder decisions than ever before. He steps closer and closer to that one bad day with every explosion and every fight. The Joker pushes him to his limits high and low, and while The Riddler might stump him, or Catwoman might make him swoon, no one can make Batman fail like The Joker.
Todd Phillips’ Joker film forces the viewer to do something very uncomfortable: feel compassion in a terrible situation. It might not be for The Joker. It might not be for Arthur Fleck at all, but Todd Phillips’ Joker puts the audience face to face with a difficult emotional struggle. No matter what Arthur does to seek truth, he’s only faced with more lies. Whether it’s the truth about his father, or the truth about his mother, or the truth about why his friends betrayed him, he never finds the truth he’s looking for.
The movie doesn’t make us compassionate for The Joker, but it makes us ask the same questions that he does. We want to know his origin story just as much as Arthur does. So while fans are horrified at Arthur’s descent into madness, we feel compassion for his struggle. He’s a cold-hearted ruthless villain, but we want the same thing: truth. And this search for truth brings us closer to him.
Through chaos, we see Batman at his best. Through corruption, we see Batman at his worst. And through compassion, we come one step closer to understanding the maniacal Clown Prince of Gotham.
Why do you love The Joker? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!