We all know the Joker as a Batman villain, but do you really know what he’s capable of? He, (and I hesitate to give him this credit), is an evil genius, chemist, inventor, creator of comedy-themed gadgets and a good fighter. He is a violent sociopath who is arguably Batman’s greatest foe. He has killed or greatly harmed a variety of other characters and brutally abuses Harley Quinn. This is not a character people should look up to as a role model, he is meant to be portrayed as the dark end of what someone should never become.
Yet, we are now being fed a movie that seemingly does not portray him as the villain anymore, but as the victim. The victim we should feel bad for, even as he turns to madness as the solution to these problems.
There is a great variety of story lines about Joker’s insane ventures and efforts. But in each one it is clear what he is doing is wrong, from abusing Harley Quinn to murdering Jason Todd. It is believed that his most powerful weapon is his mind, but it is a dark, tainted one that should never be something a person is capable of. His insanity is portrayed fairly consistently, even when he is given a taste of sanity he quickly goes back to his disturbed mind. According to Fandom, “The Joker is a homicidal, psychopathic, ruthless, sadistic, maniacal, lunatic, manipulative, intelligent and diabolical master criminal who wants nothing but chaos and anarchy wherever he goes, as well as revealing in the suffering of others.” Is this really the character you want to dedicate an entire film to?
In The Dark Knight trilogy, he is only featured in the second film, though his character is lightly introduced at the end of the first film. His insanity is clear from the beginning, as he has each member of his team killed for convenience during a heist. Throughout the film, we see how this is all one big game to him as he threatens countless lives, burns money to make a point and tests the morals of people through his stunt with the ferries. In the end, he is really testing Batman through his corruption of Harvey Dent (Two-Face), murder of Rachael and his amusement in hand-to-hand combat with the Bat. He is trying to prove that people can be corrupted like him. He is trying to prove that Batman can be corrupted. He wants Bruce to kill him, he wants to prove that Batman is just as bad as he is. However, the people not blowing up the ferries and Batman sparing his life afterwards is proof that the Joker’s mind is a dark, twisted level that people do not want to stoop too. There is no question in this film that he is the villain, and the audience has no reason to root for him.
In Suicide Squad, (bear with me here), the viewer gets a taste of his abuse of Harley Quinn. Though the film doesn’t really go in-depth with it as it should have, the extended version shows enough for the viewer to, hopefully, realize that it is a toxic relationship. Their romance is not one to desire, nor is it something we should promote as the “Ideal Couple.” In fact, it is a prime example of what an abusive relationship looks like and how the person being abused is being manipulated to not realize how they are being mistreated. He tortures her in Arkham after escaping, to give her a taste of what his “treatment” was like, “I’m just gunna hurt ya, really, really bad,” then abandons her despite her helping him escape. Later, when she chases after him, he uses mental manipulation to begin controlling her to do as he says while she’s holding a gun to his head. Her full transformation into Harley Quinn occurs later though, when she falls into the vat of toxic chemicals. In the comics, he pushes her in, but they changed it in the film to her voluntarily falling in to possibly hide his abusive nature. She gets caught when he drives the purple lambo into the water despite her saying she can’t swim, then abandons her to get taken by the Bat. The rest of the film romanticizes their relationship as he chases her down and helps her escape. I’m looking forward to the Birds of Prey film where they show Harley leaving him due to his abusive ways.
I may have somewhat derailed from the Joker movie itself, but I felt it was important to really analyze his character for the audience and how he has been portrayed thus far. We can debate the morality of heroes and villains all day long, but what the Joker does it not debatable. He is not someone people should strive to be like. He is not a role model. He is an abusive sociopath who should be looked at as an example of what to avoid. This movie may have forgotten that. If you choose to see the movie, keep all this in mind as you do. I will not be seeing the movie as I do not want to support its message. While I hope the ending shows that he is the bad guy, I fear this is not the case.