The Joker is a horrible, horrible swear word of a character, as I previously explored here, and has exacted some terrible and heinous acts on the heroes and inhabitants of Gotham and Metropolis over the 70+ years he's been dishing out practical jokes.
But if every one is deserving of a chance of redemption, a clean slate or second chance, even someone as deplorable as the Joker should be in with a shot at clearing his name, right?
I was racking my brain trying to find a moment where the Joker displayed the slightest shred of nobility, and after finding Jef Rouner's incredible theory, I now believe one of the Harlequin of Hate's moments in the white light of heroism came in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight.
Hear me out:
An Agent of Chaos
Rouner thinks that "over the course of The Dark Knight the Joker does more to eliminate crime and corruption in Gotham than Batman ever comes close to." And that's a pretty good shout to be honest, and here are a few reasons why:
The Bank Heist
When we are first introduced to the Nolanverse Joker, he is about to pull off one hell of an epic bank heist. But as he makes clear during the course of the movie, he has no need for money. He finds the thirst for capital deplorable. His choosing to rob the mob bank is an act of "vigilante justice worthy of Batman himself." Interesting...
The mob bank houses millions upon millions of dollars accrued from pushing drugs, extortion, murder, and countless other terrible acts. And the mob being the mob, aren't used to attacks outside of their order. So they never saw it coming.
Joker even manages to set his accomplices on each other, meaning he successfully managed to remove 5 dangerous criminals from preying on the streets of Gotham.
Well done, Joker, you managed to cripple the crime syndicate in one fell swoop, where the Bat had been trying to take them down for two movies. You could say "yeah, but what about the bank manager he shot?" Well, that was in self-defense, plus he left him with a pretty funny parting shot in the end.
The Allure of Power
Gotham is overrun with corruption, and the Narrows are lost to inhabitants rendered feral and broken by Scarecrow's fear toxin, which breeds plenty of people for the mob to feed on and/or recruit. Even Joker managed to put together a little army of people "left to rot" by the government.
Being fully aware of the corruption in the city, Joker's next move was to start a war against Gotham's law institutions; assassinating judges, police commissioners and attempting to shake up the 1%. As Rouner states, the actions are wrong, but as Bruce Wayne states in Batman Begins:
"People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy..."
Hence why Wayne ended up dressing up like a Bat and jumping off rooftops. The Joker's ethos isn't too different from Bats' when you think about it. It's all about sending a message.
The White Knight
The Joker's winning stroke was turning the once incorruptible Harvey Dent into a law-breaking vigilante of sorts. Yes, killing his girlfriend Rachel Dawes and horrifically scarring an enraged Dent wasn't part of the plan, but it managed to cause yet another direct reaction where corrupt officials and mob bosses were eliminated. A creature of destruction, just like Joker and Batman.
Joker's actions with Dent were carried out with the distinct purpose of showing Batman and Gotham that anything can be corrupted, even the Batman when he breaks his one rule by spearing Dent/Two-Face over the edge of the platform where Dent threatened to murder Gordon's innocent family.
Nobody is safe from the filth of Gotham City, especially the ones tasked with its survival, as Rouner explains perfectly in this paragraph:
Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight is an agent of chaos. He says as much, but what does that mean? For him “organized crime” is the problem.
It’s institutional, monolithic and supported by people that masquerade as law-abiding citizens who look to the skies for an unlawful vigilante to protect them from the common thugs of the street.
He knows that the “rules” are a smokescreen to protect evil and so he fights a two-front war against both the mob and those that who enable the mob to continue to do business.
So what did you guys make of that theory? It's an incredible idea and believable too. It just goes to show that despite the evils the Joker has carried over the years, there is some clarity behind the madness of Joker's gallows humor.
What do you think?
(Sources: Houston Press, WIki)