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Off My Mind: What Makes Joker Evil

Let's try to look into the mind of Batman's greatest villain.

Superheroes are defined by their enemies. The "great" villains in comics aren't just bad, they're evil to the core. Heroes usually have had a defining moment in their lives that inspired them to selflessly devote themselves to saving and protecting the innocent. That's not necessarily the case with villains. What is it that makes them so evil.  
 
When it comes to evil, Joker takes the cake. It may be hard to try to pinpoint a single moment that made the Joker turn into such a evil fiend since his true origin is open to debate. In 1988's The Killing Joke, he even admits he's unsure of his past. "Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another...if I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice. Ha ha ha!" 
 
Joker first appeared in Batman #1 in 1940. He was introduced as a crazed homicidal villain. He announced on the radio that he would kill and named his victim. Despite police protection, the unlucky fellow died on cue at the precise moment the Joker predicted (Joker injected his Joker Venom which took 24 hours to kick in). Killing without remorse, he even came close to ending the life of young Robin, who was saved at the last moment by Batman
 
From his first appearance Joker was a ruthless killer. What about his other portrayals and what do they say about his motivation? 
 == TEASER == 
In 1951's Detective Comics #168, part of the Joker's apparent origin was finally told. Batman was invited to be the guest lecturer for a course in Criminology at State University.  
 
As part of his lectures, Batman presents a ten-year old unsolved case. When trying to track down a thief known as the Red Hood, Batman discovered his foe's face was covered. The Red Hood revealed the reason was to prevent being identified by his ears, color of his eyes, shape of his chin, etc. He pulled a gun on Batman but rather than shooting Batman, he shot a pipe that caused choking ammonia gas to be released. As Batman gasp for air, the Red Hood made his escape. 
 
Red Hood's crime spree continued for a month. When trying to escape from the scene of a crime at the Monarch Playing Card Company, he dived into a catch basin that contained the waste from the chemicals at the plant. Batman later discovered that the chemicals had bleached Red Hood's face and hair. Seeing that he looked like an evil clown, he felt the joke was on him. This revelation could have been what caused Joker's mind to snap, driving him into insanity. He went with the guise of the Joker figuring his new appearance would be terrifying and named himself after a playing card, citing the Monarch Playing Card Company as being responsible for his creation.
 
The Joker's killing spree lasted until the time of the Silver Age. When the Comics Code Authority cracked down on comic book writers, Joker became more of a harmless crackpot. His appearances became rarer until his return in 1973's Batman #251. Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams returned Joker to his deadly ways. After escaping from the "state hospital for the criminally insane," Joker was determined to get revenge upon his former gang. Believing he was ratted out, he begins killing them despite Batman trying to prevent the deaths. 
 
Joker's return in this issue took him back to his darker roots. The whimsical joke crimes were replaced with deadly joke crimes.  
 
Even though his true origin may never be known, it's pretty much accepted that jumping into the chemical waste caused Joker's mind to crack. There's no way the Joker could be sane, right? He's done too many wacky things and while he may have had bad intentions before becoming the Joker, he can't necessarily help it if his mind is a jumbled mess. 
 
There is another theory explaining Joker's madness. In Batman: Black and White Volume, Paul Dini and Alex Ross delivered the "Case Study" story. 
 
When the Joker is caught once again and about to be sent back to Arkham Asylum, a couple doctors prepare for his arrival. One has uncovered an old file bringing a different look to what makes Joker who he is.  
 
The file by an unknown doctor suggests Joker isn't insane. In interviews with other criminals that worked with him before he became the Joker, he was described as an ambitious and upcoming gangster. The doctor's report described him as possessing a "cunning mind melded with a pronounced sadistic streak, that did not necessarily classify him as insane." He carefully plotted schemes that would prevent him from getting caught. Taking the guise of the Red Hood was another to prevent anyone from recognizing him.  
 
The report also suggested that the night he became transformed by the chemical waste caused him to become more rational than before. As the Joker, he was now able to hide behind a "mask of madness" to carry out his crimes. Hiding behind this mask, the sane man known as the Joker would be able avoid being declared sane and executed for his crimes.  
 
Doubt was cast upon this theory when it was revealed that the report was actually written by Dr. Harleen Quinzel, aka Harley Quinn. The question remained whether there was any truth to this file or if Joker orchestrated the file to be found in order to play yet another joke on the world. 
 
Going back to the original question, what makes Joker so evil? Unfortunately we may never know for certain. We can conclude that Joker was a bad man before his transformation. In some ways it may be somewhat comforting to think that his chemical dive drove him insane. The thought that all his deadly crimes were from a sane and calculating individual adds a whole new level of creepiness to his character. 
 
Do you believe Joker is criminally insane or just an evil and calculating man?
81 Comments
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Posted by Theodore

This dude is criminally insane.

Posted by johnny_spam

There is no explaining Joker he is just violence incarnate. 

Online
Posted by cattlebattle

I always liked Heath Ledgers Joker reason for being evil, 
 
It's like he had nothing else to do
Posted by NightFang
I don't think crazy people can be good or evil, there just crazy and do what they won't.
Posted by Brickabrack

Joker is crazy, and you can't rationalize crazy. If you could, it wouldn't be crazy.

Posted by nutzac4888

He's a genius, nobody is ever going to doubt that.  He's not insane, he is calculated, the recent issues of Batman and Robin are evidence of that.  

Edited by lastdrag0n89

There is no way of trying to make sense of insanity without become insane yourself in the process. Once you understand pure insanity, you yourself have become insane

Posted by comicbikerscott

awesome
Posted by weapon154

Don't write him off as simply being insane, it's not that simple. He's not like the others. He has no code. No methodology, no goals. You can't hope to understand him because his desires are fluid, they change. He can't be predicted. He can't be reasoned with. And if you're careless with him... You'll die...  
(Bruce to Jason) 

Posted by Gambit1024

I think the Joker and Bruce Wayne have the same problem. They just handle it differently. 
 
When Bruce witnessed his parents' murder, he was traumatised. In time, I believe him to go so loopy that he developed an obsession with crime and putting an end to it. Dedicated he traveled the world to learn all of these techniques and he became the Batman.  
 
Joker, depending on which origin story you believe, might have just the same problem. If you're going by The Killing Joke (the one I go by), here's how I interpret it: Before he became the Joker, he was poor, his wife/girlfriend and unborn child were killed, and if that weren't enough, he was pushed into a vat of acid by Batman all in one day. That drove him to his own obsession: Batman. When things got so unbelieveably bad for him, Batman goes ahead and makes his life just that much worse. Joker is now hellbent on being everything Batman is not. While Batman brings justice to Gotham, Joker brings chaos. Joker won't stop untill Batman just stops, but Joker knows Bruce will just not quit. And that's the joke. Joker knows Batman is just as messed up as he is, and there's nothing he can do to stop Joker from causing chaos. In Joker's mind, the funniest joke is if Batman kills someone because it's the one thing that will ultimately break him. Joker's objective is to get Batman to do just that, defeating him once and for all.  
 
So in conclusion, calling the Joker crazy is calling Batman crazy. They are messed up in the exact same way, but each of them handle the situation entirely differently. That is what sets them apart from all the other heroes and their arch enemies.

Posted by .o0Johnny0o.

An absolute blinder of an article.
 
I think some of the weakest writing I've read has been when writers attempt to write from the Joker's perspective.  I think no matter how well it's written it's alway going to have a sense of pulling back the curtain in Oz feeling.
 
One aspect I like about him as well is that only Bats really 'gets' him, in that there's nothing to get.  There's no planning, reasoning or logic to him, you just have to deal with him.
 
Again though Tony, top class article.

Posted by Emperor Gonzo Noir

He's super sane

Posted by imaginaryman

I think he's an irrational man who has a the tenacity to do what he wants, unfortunately the things he wants to do are bad things, and he has this need to be affiliated with batman for some reason. In the end I just think he's a wierdo with a taste for evil games

Edited by Doctor!!!!!

The Joker is crazy super insane awsome!!!! 
Thats how he managed to stay so popular!!!!!

Posted by karrob
@cattlebattle said:
" I always liked Heath Ledgers Joker reason for being evil,  It's like he had nothing else to do "
me too
Posted by Fantasgasmic
@ everybody who's throwing around the term "insane": Insane is a legal term. It means that you do not understand the difference, or were unable to distinguish between right and wrong at the time of the offense. In no way has the Joker ever showed signs of being insane. Psychotic: yes, sociopath: yes, personality disorders: yes, but he always knows the difference between right and wrong, he just doesn't care (which is the definition of a sociopath).
Edited by Tudoh

I don't like to think the Joker was a 'bad' person before he became what he is now. In 'The Killing Joke' he tries to bring Gordon down to his level. To make him as crazy as the Joker is, to prove that any sane and good loving person can become as evil as he is, just because of the circumstances. 
 
And it is already stated how the Joker really went crazy. You can't see the things Joker remembers from the past as fact, because he really can't recall what happened. The Riddler, on the other hand, remembered it very well.  
The Riddler witnessed how a corrupt cop killed the wife of the man who would later become the Joker. When he later stood on the street and looked at the burning apartment, he saw a man, looking terrified. He saw how the man broke. A man with white skin and green hair. This is just after The Red Hood fall into that fat of acid and became The Joker. 
I'll try to find a picture from that scene. I think this happened around 'Hush Returns' but I'm not quite sure.  
 
Edit: 
The Picture (from Batman Gotham Knights 54):

Posted by PumpkinBomb
@G-Man said:

"The "great" villains in comics aren't just bad, they're evil to the core. "

 "Say what?"  
Edited by TheJokerha

There have been a few story lines in non-Batman titles that seemed to settle the issue.  In the "Rock of Ages" storyline in JLA, Luthor trapped Superman and Martian Manhunter inside Joker's insane maze of a brain. The only way they made it out was for Manhunter to make himself temporarily crazy so he could make "sense" to the patterns of Joker's mind. Later on in the storyline, Joker gets the Rock of Ages and starts killing millions with his thoughts so Manhunter forces sanity on him. t takes all of  J'onz considerable will and mind power just to hold it for a few seconds. Joker suddenly gets very remorseful and says thinks like "What have I done with my life? I..I think I need help." He then wills people back to life that he and Luthor killed. They grab the rock away from him just before he goes screamingly insane again. Not even J'onz could fight it.  
In an issue of The Specter,  Specter and James Corrigan go inside Joker's soul and find he really has no choice. They show this set of circuit boxes in him and things like "morals" and "self control" are burned and gutted. Only scorched wires remain. Batman and Specter agree Joker has a "unholy innocence" and is serving an unknown higher purpose by being the way he is.
In a JLA annual,  an arch angel takes The League inside Joker's mind and soul and shows deep down he is a good man who has no idea or control over what he is doing, and is blameless for his deeds. The angel tells them Joker exist the way he does to fulfill a plan.
When Nightwing beat Joker to death they actually showed his soul traveling to heaven before Batman resurrected him.
One final clue, during the "Last Laugh" initial issue, they showed Joker's CAT scan. One doctor said "Look at the gap in the pons, and all the lesions on the brain stem. This poor guy never had a shot at sanity."
He is unquestionably a genius. But a mad genius. And keep in mind "insanity" is a legal term, not a medical one. It is not an assessment of the type of mental illness. But a term referring to the subject being able to tell the difference between right and wrong and choosing to do right. I think he may fit the description because, even though he does know right from wrong and loves doing wrong, he is compelled by mental illness to choose wrong. What form the insanity takes, even the "super sanity" referred to in" Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth." could be the part of him that keeps changing. At least that's how they explained the different versions of him over the decades.
In his early appearances, he went to prison, not Arkham. There was even an issue where Batman and Robin played a trick on him to make him think he was insane, and he went out of his way to prove his sanity and get out of the asylum. In doing so he accidentally gave Batman the clue he was looking for. 
But by the time he showed up in "Joker's five way revenge" he was the lunatic we know him as now. And he had spent the missing years in Arkham, according to that story.
It's possible his mental state deteriorated over the years, as often happens with insanity. Staying in the insane world of Arkham made him WORSE. Combined with  what ever the chemical bath did to his brain evolving and damaging him.
I think he started out amoral and damaged, but has gotten worse over the decades. If he was exaggerating his madness, he was telling more of the truth than he realized.

Posted by Doombert

 
Great article.  Wish you would have delved into the story in the Killing Joke a bit but still good irregardless!
Posted by Multiverse

I am not trained in diagnosing mental illnesses nor am I trained in making assessments of insanity in the legal sense. Nonetheless, it does seem clear to me that the Joker is mentally disturbed. The explanation of the Joker that makes the most sense to me is the one in the Killing Joke. The Joker experiences a series of events: the death of his wife/girlfriend, being pressed into service by a gang of criminals, and falling into a vat of acid. Each of these events combines to make the Joker who he is. I see Joker as being motivated by the belief that life is meaningless. He expresses this belief in his aforementioned flexible goals, methods, and his attempts to cause chaos.

Posted by Spideycap

As he recently said himself in Batman and Robin "Im not insane...im just differently sane." i guess thats one way to look at it. I agree with Nightfang that its hard to define good and evil when it comes to crazy people, and joker is obviously evil, so maybe he isnt crazy afterall.

Posted by kungnima

'' differently sane''

Posted by yellowstar128
@nutzac4888:  I totally agree. There's a scene in Batman and Robin 14 that totally shows this. . It starts out with Robin beating Joker with a crowbar and ends with Joker escaping with Robin as his prisoner. 
 
He's not insane he's just not restrained by any of the normal codes of behaviors and because of that he follows a logic most of us can't even fathom. He's evil, totally sadistic, and brilliant.  The reason he got so upset about Bruce being gone was because he's the only one who can keep up with him; they're on the same level only at opposite ends of the moral compass.  
 
(As a side note I've always thought it was interesting that the Joker is the bad guy and he's all white and brightly colored and Batman is the good guy and is all dark and shadowy. Completely opposite of the norm. I always thought it was an interesting commentary on Gotham.)
Posted by G-Man
@Doombert said:
"  Great article.  Wish you would have delved into the story in the Killing Joke a bit but still good irregardless! "
The reason I didn't really go into that explanation is because I sort of touched on it in this video: 
  
Staff
Posted by Son_of_Magnus

The Joker is clearly insane but he is also a genius, he's calculated, he does nothing without a purpose. Some of his schemes take years to come into play and are slow moving and work behind the backdrop. He has a plan inside plans and a plan for anything you could imagine. He views himself as the world's greatest comedian and he views his crimes as performances.

Posted by caesarsghost

I dont know. Perhaps we will never k now.  
 
But this is exactly what makes The Joker my favorite villain of all time (I mean, we are talking EVER in any medium). He is an elemental force- you can never stop him (you can only hold him back momentarily) he kills indiscriminately without motivation, rhyme or reason. He is Lovecraft's 'uncanny', an indiscernable cosmic force that is ultimately more terrifying.  
 
I love this uncertainty and mystery that surrounds him! If they ever 'explain' him definitively he will lose so much of that awesome mystery that makes him interesting!
Posted by The Mighty Monarch

"  Even though his true origin may never be known, it's pretty much accepted that jumping into the chemical waste caused Joker's mind to crack." 
 
I disagree. I DON'T accept that his entire origin hinges upon him falling into the waste. I refuse to accept that falling into a vat of something people would just leave around could be the sole defining factor that makes you into the greatest criminal mind in the history of existence. 
 
I much prefer the origin from Lovers and Madmen, where he was insane but didn't fully realize it. Falling into the vat was more of a switch that opened the floodgates and made him self-aware of his madness. 
 
This is why I hate the origin proposed in Killing Joke. I always did, even before I read Lovers and Madmen. 
 
The Brave and the Bold issue with Joker and The Atom also suggests the same basic origin as Lovers and Madmen.

Posted by AgentOfAnarchy

I think he is sane. Some of his most intrikate plans and s o on seem impossible for someone truly crazy to have set out, I think he is, as he puts it "a different type of sane."

Edited by damswedon

The Joker is as insane as Bruce Wayne is, the only thing separating them is the fact that The Joker embraces insanity while Bruce fights it all he can. 
That simple fact is what makes him a great villain.

Posted by goldenkey

The Joker origin that I like to believe is the accurate one is from Killing Joke.  I hate to see Joker origins just because they are so weak compared to the one Allen Moore wrote.  He crippled Batgirl, that's huge.  She still hasn't gotten her legs back, and the character of Oracle is great and hopefully she'll never get them back because losing Oracle is more negative then positive of getting the original Batgirl back.  The evil surrounding that circumstance raised Joker to a higher level then even killing Robin.  The shooting of the police commissioners daughter and what one would assume was the rape of her as well was bad enough, but to take pictures of it and show them  to her naked in a roller coaster surrounded by evil midgets while hearing a song about "Don't even, get MAD" was beyond creepy.  Or even worse then that if there is a worse point.........To prove a point.   It showed (somewhat like Morrison's Arkham Asylum" that Batman was as just crazy the villains he hunts."  For once a person might have actually related with the Joker or understood why he is what he is.  Seeing the very very short instance where he was actually sane, and considered Batman's offer of help.  The look where he gives Batman a glance and he doesn't have smile on his face, he almost looks like he's tired of going thru the routine of getting the crap kicked out of him by Batman.  He didn't choose to be the Joker, he was down on his luck, and did what had to be done to take care of his family and it backfired on him to the point something that wouldn't be wished on anyone.  One bad day, one bad choice.......................  JOKER.

Posted by TheJokerha

" But this is exactly what makes The Joker my favorite villain of all time (I mean, we are talking EVER in any medium). He is an elemental force- you can never stop him (you can only hold him back momentarily) he kills indiscriminately without motivation, rhyme or reason. He is Lovecraft's 'uncanny', an indiscernable cosmic force that is ultimately more terrifying.  "
 
YES! I agree 100%. He is also my favorite of all mediums and you summed him up perfectly.
 
There is another new wrinkle to this. I had forgotten that DC has made Joker more self aware. That he no knows he is a comic book character, that they all are. After he got shot in the head by the crazed cop dressed up as Batman, the real Batman said Joker came back from the dead "different". In Salvation Run, Joker even tells Luthor its all a game and none of it means anything.  That they will get to play it again and again. He even speaks directly to the reader on several occasions, going back to The Sign of the Joker /Laughing Fish story arch in the late 70's. But as he told Lex, in Salvation Run  "Just because I know its a game, doesn't mean I don' t want to WIN."

Posted by The Mighty Monarch
@goldenkey said:
" The Joker origin that I like to believe is the accurate one is from Killing Joke.  I hate to see Joker origins just because they are so weak compared to the one Allen Moore wrote.  He crippled Batgirl, that's huge.  She still hasn't gotten her legs back, and the character of Oracle is great and hopefully she'll never get them back because losing Oracle is more negative then positive of getting the original Batgirl back.  The evil surrounding that circumstance raised Joker to a higher level then even killing Robin.  The shooting of the police commissioners daughter and what one would assume was the rape of her as well was bad enough, but to take pictures of it and show them  to her naked in a roller coaster surrounded by evil midgets while hearing a song about "Don't even, get MAD" was beyond creepy.  Or even worse then that if there is a worse point.........To prove a point.   It showed (somewhat like Morrison's Arkham Asylum" that Batman was as just crazy the villains he hunts."  For once a person might have actually related with the Joker or understood why he is what he is.  Seeing the very very short instance where he was actually sane, and considered Batman's offer of help.  The look where he gives Batman a glance and he doesn't have smile on his face, he almost looks like he's tired of going thru the routine of getting the crap kicked out of him by Batman.  He didn't choose to be the Joker, he was down on his luck, and did what had to be done to take care of his family and it backfired on him to the point something that wouldn't be wished on anyone.  One bad day, one bad choice.......................  JOKER. "
Ewww. Joker's origin was the only thing I DIDN'T like about Killing Joke. He DID choose to be Joker. That's who he is through and through. There's no way he could go through all the existential debates he does without utterly becoming sick with himself. I mean, crippling Batgirl was huge, but it has no impact on his origin whatsoever. Plus, his theory was disproven. Gordon DIDN'T snap after one bad day.
Posted by tigerex78

I think it is interesting that Joker is one of the most feared villains in the DC universe and he has no superpowers to speak of.  I think this is one of the things that makes him so evil.  The other is his unpredictability.  I think those trying to find out what makes him the way he is are a victim of one of the Joker's jokes.  Why else is it that he remembers things differently? 

Posted by Tudoh

I don't get why so many people don't like the origin told in 'The Killing Joke'. 
 
The one point that is made with this story, is that anybody could become as the Joker. Not just someone who was born that way. It means that any person that is pushed through so much in so little time, will see the true nature of live. A roller coaster with no directions. Random circumstances, random (in)justice.   
 
Joker is not insane, he just copes with the information he receives differently. He doesn't think about moral codes, or anything related to that. He is super-sane, and thus sees the world as it really is. In a way, the Joker is a mirror to our world, and that's what I like the most about him.

Posted by KasadyCarnage

His gayness makes him evil.
Edited by Soldier zero

"As noted above there's one big gap that makes impossible to understand the Joker completly, the fact that even him seem not know (or simply to aknowledge) his own origin. Was the chemical bath that took him into the realm of madness? was the disfigurement? was just a bad day as he said in "The Killing Joke"?
 
In a certain way the real question is does this really matters?
 
I my opinion what makes the Joker evil isn't the "why", but rather the "how". Other villains had pulled stunts similar to his, other villains might have a body count close to his, but the Joker will always top all of them for one simple reason: abandon.
The Joker does what he does with a glee and a carefree attitude that are difficult to match, in this sense his last movie incarnation was right on spot, he doesn't kill because he like to kill, he doen't kill in self defense, he simply kill because he can.
Usually other comic book serial killers tend to follow some kind of ritual preying on specific victims (like Mr. Zsazs) or simply going postal with massive killing spree (like Carnage). The Joker sets in a middle ground he can spare 10000 people just because he doesn't feel in the mood, or because the scenery doesn't work for a mass murder, and at the same time kill a girl scout for not having chocolate flavour cookies.
 
I think that the phrase that this up best was Trickster quote from Underwold Unleashed: "When super-villains want to scare each other they tell Joker stories."

Posted by Bruce Vain

Excellent article Tony
Posted by Baron_Emo

Great article, G-Man.  
 
He's only evil from a certain point of view. The less you understand why, the better.

Posted by chewbaccazm

I'm confused was this a Q because he is a bad guy

Posted by 4Essence

That was great. I've never really thought of him as sane before. That thought indeed makes the character much richer. Instead of having the cop-out that he's just insane, we have that he is just that way. The reason why he might be that way would be great for DC to unfold sometime. Or maybe it's just best kept a secret like Wolverine's origin could have been. Idk. great questions, G-Man. I'll have to think about this a lot more.  
hurm...
Posted by The Devil Tiger

As talent is independent from being good or evil, genius is to being sane or crazy. 
 
I think the Joker is like some of those people who are utterly mind broken, but also very good to handle something. 
 
Some psychokiller and sociopathic people are truly smart, but theyre brain and mind make them act differently for anoter perspective of reality. 
 
The joker isn't that mysterious to me. He's irrationnal to the core, exactly like humor, but humor, though pointless in the perspective of rationality, isn't devoid of intelligence.

Posted by Zghost

I believe one of the reasons he joker is so appealing is you can truely never know.  His plans are brillant and can have multiple layers before getting to what he really wants.  I gonna go with so sane it has brought him to insanity, I mean just look at the whole gravedigger complex.

Posted by Gambit1024
@Tudoh: Is that a standalone issue or is that an arc where they told that story?
Posted by Aetheldod

A sane person who just happened to "find" the right  reasons to act insanely , according to hime anyway ..... I dont like the jester like approach to him ..... not a big fan of clowns etc. But I consider Heath's Joker the best way to portray the Joker , the right measure of intelligence/madness the perfect nihilist/misanthrope there is , and not too much buffonish idiocy

Edited by RiddlingGambit

Well he wasn't born crazy. I always took the origin explained in "The Killing Joke" & later elaborated+supported in "Hush Returns" as true, & going by that Joker seems like a person who irreversibly lost his sanity all in one day with the loss of his wife & child-yet-to-be-born, & the humiliation he felt being confronted by the Batman, being screwed over by the gang that forced the job that led to him having an accident that would bleach his skin & make him appear to look like a clown. The trauma was irreversible but also transformed to a form of insanity that pushes the limits, always making a joke of death & extreme violence (perhaps because of his clown-like transformation). I think his transformation turned into obsession as well; obsession to get back at Batman. The only way to get back at Batman was to become a criminal mastermind, & with his transformation including a lack of sympathy, empathy, compassion it wasn't very hard for Joker to propel himself into the realm of criminal genius. After his transformation all he can do was hurt people & laugh. I wouldn't consider him a natural genius, not really someone academic, just someone obsessed enough to go the extra mile in his effort to ruin people's lives in a way that is humorous to himself. He doesn't want to see himself as a victim, so he has this massive ego, and when he victimizes other people he relieves himself even further of the truth that he is a victim of one terrible day. He laughs when he succeeds in victimizing others - it's his therapy - but his therapy can't be complete until he truly victimizes Batman in the worst way & perhaps Joker would rather want to break Batman down to be like Joker rather than kill him. The more people Joker can manipulate to think like him the better he feels. Deep down, Joker is insecure & afraid of just being a regular, average person again who can be victimized, traumatized - that's what motivates him as a supervillain,  to stay as far away from that as possible. In a way he wouldn't want to kill Batman because he fears the boredom of having no release. So in conclusion I'd say he's insane, & his insanity motivates him to do evil as a form of therapy. Without his insanity he'd have little motivation to do evil, but as it is it seems his insanity is irreversible, so he'll always be evil too.

Posted by The Mighty Monarch
@Tudoh said:
" I don't get why so many people don't like the origin told in 'The Killing Joke'.  The one point that is made with this story, is that anybody could become as the Joker. Not just someone who was born that way. It means that any person that is pushed through so much in so little time, will see the true nature of live. A roller coaster with no directions. Random circumstances, random (in)justice.    Joker is not insane, he just copes with the information he receives differently. He doesn't think about moral codes, or anything related to that. He is super-sane, and thus sees the world as it really is. In a way, the Joker is a mirror to our world, and that's what I like the most about him. "

That's just it though, not just anybody could become The Joker BECAUSE he isn't insane. Not just anybody could gain his super-sane existential awareness just from one bad day. And The Killing Joke even proves that point! Gordon DOESN'T CHANGE A BIT from the one bad day Joker gives him. I agree with you on what he represents, but I like him precisely because he can't be just anyone. The Joker is a being of pure evil and chaos, and he always was, he just wasn't aware of it. The vat of chemicals merely opened his mind to what was already there, just locked away by the constraints of society's rules. 
 
Plus the fact that Joker openly admits that he has no idea if the origin in The Killing Joke is true.
Edited by Tudoh
@Gambit1024 said:

" @Tudoh: Is that a standalone issue or is that an arc where they told that story? "

It's an arc; Hush Returns (Gotham Knights 50-55). 

@The Mighty Monarch said:

" @Tudoh said:

" I don't get why so many people don't like the origin told in 'The Killing Joke'.  The one point that is made with this story, is that anybody could become as the Joker. Not just someone who was born that way. It means that any person that is pushed through so much in so little time, will see the true nature of live. A roller coaster with no directions. Random circumstances, random (in)justice.    Joker is not insane, he just copes with the information he receives differently. He doesn't think about moral codes, or anything related to that. He is super-sane, and thus sees the world as it really is. In a way, the Joker is a mirror to our world, and that's what I like the most about him. "

That's just it though, not just anybody could become The Joker BECAUSE he isn't insane. Not just anybody could gain his super-sane existential awareness just from one bad day. And The Killing Joke even proves that point! Gordon DOESN'T CHANGE A BIT from the one bad day Joker gives him. I agree with you on what he represents, but I like him precisely because he can't be just anyone. The Joker is a being of pure evil and chaos, and he always was, he just wasn't aware of it. The vat of chemicals merely opened his mind to what was already there, just locked away by the constraints of society's rules.  Plus the fact that Joker openly admits that he has no idea if the origin in The Killing Joke is true. "
The things done to Joker an Gordon weren't comparable. Joker lost his wife, unborn child, former life and even his former looks all in one day. Not only that, he was also not prepared for this. 
I'm not saying that Gordon was prepared to see his Bab's being shot, crippled for life, and see the footage of it while riding a roller coaster. It's just that Gordon knew that he was dealing with psycho's his whole life. 
 
But I get your point. I now understand that people would think it's not like that 'cause Gordon did get out of it save and sane. 
  
There's just one more thing I would like to point out. I personally think the acid he fell into did something with his mind. Not everything, but at least something (not referring to his looks, 'cause, well, that's pretty obvious). Somebody else too went (partly) crazy when he came in contact with such a toxin; The Creeper. I know it's something completely different, but this guy had some ugly things happen to him and then came in contact with the Joker Toxin. After all that he ended up with those looks plus a personality disorder. I don't know much about the creeper, I'm just saying...
Posted by The Mighty Monarch
@Tudoh: Oh yes of course. I'm not saying the chemicals did NOTHING. Just that they didn't do everything. My way of thinking is this. If one bad day turns you into The Joker, why aren't there A LOT MORE of him running around? Sure it was bad but it's still far from the worst day ever. Other people deal with those feelings differently 
 
I'd advise reading Lovers and Madmen, it was the second arc of Batman Confidential and is collected in a trade. That is my personal approved Joker origin. It doesn't contradict any other since Joker himself said Killing Joke might not be true. Red Hood is there, the vat is there, but who he was before the vat was a bit different and personally I like it the best due to my stance on who The Joker is and how he could've come to be.
Posted by blaakmawf

I think the concept of evil is far less interesting than criminal insanity. I also do not think the joker is evil. He just does shit he thinks is funny and operates on his own twisted form of logic.

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