Off My Mind: What Makes Joker Evil
I've read it, and I liked it for what it was; a fresh look on the origin of The Joker. I didn't like it as THE origin of The Joker. I said I didn't like the idea of Joker being 'evil' or just 'different' before he fell in the fat of acid, but I never said I chose the 'Killing Joke' as the origin I see as true.
I like it as he explains it himself; 'If I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice.'
As you can see, many people prefer a different origin story for the Joker, and they would be hurt if one of them would be declared canon. Me myself, if I had to choose, it would have to be 'Killing Joke' (but I think I made that already clear). But I'd prefer to just not choose. I like Joker for who he is, not for what he was.
But yeah, having no TRUE canon origin is actually the best. I just personally accept Lovers and Madmen as it pretty much accounts for every flaw in every other origin I've seen, and frankly, I think it's more original. No 'childhood trauma' or 'freudian excuse' to be evil. This is The Joker, practically the very definition of evil. Trying to add sympathy to this devil is incomprehensible to me. Especially when so many villains, especially Batman's villains, already have all sorts of childhood traumas and sympathetic origins. Joker is just too damn evil for that IMO.
Too busy today to really break it down but there are a lot of different standards of insanity from colloquial ("Joe did the Ironman Triathlon, he's insane!"), to psychological (mental disorders; DSM IV psychopaths / sociopaths), to medical (brain chemistry; organic brain disorder), to legal... but it seems to me the essential question is whether it's Joker's "fault" or not... whether he chooses his behavior or cannot overcome and irresistible impulse towards evil.
I could go into a long legal analysis of how the various tests have evolved over time and what the distinctions are, but it really comes down to the jury and whether insanity qualifies as an excuse for the behavior... in sum, "Do we pity, the Joker or do we punish the Joker?" Generally, sociopaths and psychopaths do not get the benefit of the insanity defense, the ALI Model Penal Code states: "the terms mental disease or defect do not include an abnormality that is manifested only by repeated criminal or otherwise antisocial conduct" (Section 4.01)... meaning irrespective of whether Joker is or is not willingly insane, someone with his habitual evil-doing is not entitled to the defense (at some point, society draws a line and says, "We don't care what the reason is, what you're doing is too evil to tolerate and it must be punished rather than pitied."
So at least with respect to "criminal insanity", Joker is not and would be treated like any other criminal without the defense. In the eyes of the law, he's done enough wrong that Joker is at fault even if he's crazy.
Quick run through the others... colloquially, he breaks norms so whether willingly or not, he's insane; psychologically, he meets the DSM IV criteria for psychopathy / sociopathy; medically... it's ambiguous whether Joker was born that way, whether the chemicals made him that way, or a little bit of both. Another past insight to throw into the mix would be JMS on Brave & The Bold crossing the unlikely Atom with Joker... whilst in Joker's mind he experiences some of Joker's childhood memories where the signs of psychopathy pre-accident were evident. Given the amount of freewill action Joker takes I imagine he's still morally culpable irrespective of conditions predisposing him towards evil and he seems legally culpable too, so- to get back to the original question "Joker chooses to be evil."
Evil for evil's sake is not interesting. The reason Joker is such a great villain, and this is the case with a lot of great villains, is that they are the antithesis of the hero. Everything Batman stands for, Joker stands for its opposite. Chaos over order; anarchy over law; making people suffer as you did as opposed to trying to save them from that fate. The Joker is a man of convictions just as strong as Batman, they are just diametrically opposed. The Dark Knight explored this better than any Batman story I've read, including The Killing Joke (which comes very close). It showed that the Joker was incredibly methodical (even though he claims the opposite - "a dog chasing cars"), which depending on your definition of insane, may or may not make him insane, but he is definitely a sociopath of the highest degree. He did everything he did to prove his one point - anyone can become like him. Ultimately he lost, because even though he corrupted Dent, the people of Gotham proved that good exists.
I think The Comedian from Watchmen was inspired by the Joker. Both see the world for the crazy, demented place it truly is (in their eyes) and choose to revel in it.
Most people, every once in awhile have a crazy thought. Like seeing a person standing too close to the curb and thinking, " I could push him right now and he'd die from the passing cars instantly" . But luckily, most people have the restraint to stop themselves from acting on it.
The Joker, however, doesn't. That little voice that tells sane people, that would be bad, doesn't exist for the Joker. Which is what I consider to qualify him as insane. The fact that most of his random thoughts that he acts upon involve the death of other people, makes him evil.
I remember one comic (can't remember which) in which the Joker is walking along with some goons he hired. One guy doesn't laugh at his bad joke and the Joker just pushes him into traffic killing him.
That to me is the essence of the Joker. and what makes his so evil. Having some random violent act cross his mind and him going about and doing it. Not caring about the result or consequences as they don't factor into his plans.
" @nutzac4888: (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.) "Opposite of the norm? A lot of villains wear purple and green.
Maybe Harley was right....
I think Joker has dissociative personality disorder which would explain both his sadistic nature and his murky past. Now, having a dissociative personality disorder doesn't mean you're filled with apathy but it's more common amongst people who were severely abused as children which would, in turn, relate back to his sadistic nature seeing as how victims of abuse are susceptible to similar behavior to their abuser later on in life. Also, people with this condition also suffer an amnesia of sorts sometimes instigated by intense trauma which would explain why he started acting this way after he was deformed.
Joker falling into that vat liberated him from the abuse and trauma that once plagued him and forced him to carry out his evil deeds under the protection of a mask. It wiped away his memory and sordid past and replaced it with a clean slate that enabled him to have control over his life that he couldn't previously.
He is an evil clown and evil clowns personify the criminally insane or chaotic motivations. These kind of people don't have a symbol but I prefer the evil clown as a symbol for extreme behaviors in which is chaos and bizarre attitudes. Some villains or just meant to be the wild card set loose by mis unfortunate events and there only mission is to see who can Taine them by driving the world to hell. No explanation with pure chaos and insanity sometimes makes one hell of a antagonist if you ask me.
Really, I think asking "where did Joker go wrong" is like asking how real life famous criminals (Ed Gein anyone?) "went wrong". There probably really was no single moment where they woke up and said to themselves "hey I think I'm gonna be a villain today!", it was a slow process that took place for most, during their childhood and eventually, the emotional strain took them over the edge. I really like the way the writers on Smallville handled LEX'S background (well they pretty much made one for him as he didn't have one other than being the embodiment of corporate greed in the comics). They realistically, believably described how sociopath like Lex could transform into the monster he is later from the innocent shy rich kid he used to be.
The Joker should always be a big mix of plain crazy and calculator :P
I liked the Dark Knight, like I imagine 98% of you guys here, but the movie's Joker, despite how good and great Heath Ledger was, comes to me a bit too much "emo".
Not a real threat, and come on, people on a boat with explosives isn't that much of a threat for the goshdarn Batman!!
Like when he was in the street screamin' "Hit me!! Hit me!! HIT ME!!" . Just a punk-take on the Joker asking for people to kill him..? (wouldn't a cop or some Gothamite with a gun just kill the guy at that point?), that came off a bit too suicidal to me.
Anyway, there's been plenty o' exemples of good written Joker stories. In Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale run, in Batman: The Man Who Laughs, in most of his post-1 Year Later appearances..
I dunno what you'd constitute as a threat.. But the man thrives on chaos and above all corruption.. not the standard money uinder the table stuff.. But corruption of the very SOUL itself.. He WANTED Bats to hit him to corrupt Bats unshakeable code of ethics..his resolve.. He did what he did with the boat bombs to show that EVERYONE is in the right circumstance completely morally bankrupt..Like him!!
Im afraid the characterisation went way over your head there..coz theres nothing "emo" about THAT
The Joker isn't insane. He just knows something that no one else does. He knows he is in a comic book. And he takes full advantage of that. The entire world is a playground for him and none of his action truly matter. Jason Todd dies, oh well. He will come back to life eventually. No big deal. And if they don't, then no major loss. It isn't like they were real to begin with.
But as much as I love the movie, and believe me, I do, a lot, Christopher Nolan's take on both Batman and the Joker always come to me as "emo-ysh".
So...dark..depressing..and not in a film noir-like aspect, but just... Ugh...
Just look at Joker's make-up, look, costume...
And I read a lot of Bat-books and I don't recall any adjusting to Heath Ledger's Joker. Maybe in the not-canon "Batman: Lovers and Madmen", a bit of Ledger there, but that's all.
Comic book Joker's been pretty consistent, a crazy madman who would shot random people in the streets, after asking there name and finding someone with a first nam-ysh sounding family name.
Ledger-Joker would threat the guy, make magic tricks and threat the guy...and give the gun to someone else to shot that first guy or he'd kill his daughter or something.
Different levels of madmen. One's a lunatic killer, the other an anarchist.
I'd say both are equally good, but different people would prefer different Jokers.
Jokers evil lies in one simple fact, he just doesn't give a frak, and that's the scariest thing about him. He does what he does because he follows his every whim and inclination with no filter. He is paradoxically chaos incarnate while embodying order, his own since of it that is. Joker seems random to readers and other characters, but in his head it all makes since to him (ex. his activities as Gravedigger). One of the best examples of this is the Joker Fish episode of Batman TAS. Also I think knowing that he's a comic book character made that natural tendency of his exponentially more.
This edit will also create new pages on Comic Vine for:Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.
Comment and Save
Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Comic Vine users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.