With the Joker finally getting a proper arc in Scott Snyder’s Batman tomorrow, I thought it would be a good time to write my thoughts down about the whom Joker is to me and why I feel he is the best villain of all time. I understand that statement is bold. I can already see fan boys everywhere simply extending their hands out in an attempt to choke the life out me. What about Vader? What about Hannibal Lector? Magneto? What about Kaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhnnnn? Though all of these villains are great, they just don't have the same potential for complete and utter anarchy that the Joker does. And I would argue that his biggest competition, Vader, isn't a villain at all. He does eventually fulfill his destiny as the chosen one. The Emperor is evil, to the core, but in the end, his motivation is still power. Sure he seems to take pleasure in destruction but he ultimately wants to be the one standing at the top of the mountain.
The Joker is the closest thing to the actual devil in all of fiction. His goal is to see you fall by your own actions. In other words, he doesn't seek to kill you or steal from you; he wants you to give yourself to chaos. He wants to bring you down to the lowest point possible and then he wants you to choose to dig instead of climb out. He doesn't understand failure because if you choose good, he now has a new opponent to play against him in his little game. If everyone falls he wins. If just one person chooses good, he still wins.
Back to my analogy about the Joker being like the devil. If you believe that God created each and everyone one of us for the specific purpose of one day joining him heaven, then it must also be true that we are each uniquely special to him. We are each his children. If the devil is able to bring just one of us down, then he has taken something precious from God. Now the more and more people he is able bring down, the larger his act of defiance becomes against God. So in the case of the Joker, as he causes more and more people to fall, his act of defiance against the goodness of society grows larger. The problem here that as long as any hope is left, the good in just one man can spread to those that have fallen. This causes the Joker to not a destination. He just has the journey or path of destruction. And isn’t the journey the best part?
I also argue that the Joker uses greed, power, money, revenge, etc. as weapons, but never motive. In fact, in my mind, the perfect iteration of the Joker has no origin and very little motive. Much like Nolan's joker, he just does things. He spends most of his time having a big laugh about the whole thing with a few brief moments where we see some deep seeded rage peppered in. It's the idea that his motives aren't simple, that they aren't just common, that makes him my favorite villain. He is the opposite of Batman. Batman has a specific purpose and a very defined set of rules on how to get to his endgame. The Joker on the other had has no real endgame and however he tries to get there is completely left up to the moment.
I hope that all made sense. I just wanted to kind of get that out there and see what people think. I hope the God stuff doesn’t bother anyone. Although I am Catholic and do really believe all that stuff, I wasn’t trying to make that the point of the blog. I find that the comic world really isn’t the place for that discussion. Anyway I would love to hear what everyone’s thoughts are about the Joker and villains and the other things that make superhero comics worth reading. Thanks for reading.