The Joker Is The Real Hero In The Dark Knight
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Forget Batman. He’s a grumpy, brooding, and reckless vigilante endangering the public and the bloke needs to stick to his day job. The hero of Gotham is The Joker.
Reddit user “generalzee” was likely having a quiet and fun little evening browsing subreddits, casting votes, and dropping the odd comment. However, generalzee went on to crack open a tin of worms with a Dark Knight fan theory and I intend to gobble down the worms without fat shame.
The theory explores the true nature of Heath Ledger’s character…
“Before the Joker, Gotham was a mess,” argues the movie fan. “Entire sections of the city were closed off due to madness, organised crime ran rampant, and the majority of important city officials were wildly corrupt. The city even tolerated a renegade vigilante who ran around wearing a rubber suit.”
Yeah, that’s a good point. What city tolerates rubber suit wearing crime fighters? In real life, I think Seattle found it all a bit weird a few years ago:
But getting back to the theory!
Generalzee added “along comes the Joker and by the end of a very short time, almost all organised crime was eliminated, many corrupt officials were imprisoned or dead, and the city’s vigilante even went into hiding for 8 years. This was all part of the Joker’s masterfully executed plan.”
Now for the evidence…
“The very first thing we see Joker do is rob a mafia controlled bank, eliminating the entire team of expert bank robbers who helped him pull it off.” The Joker then begins ‘murdering key criminals and corrupt officials that could help insulate those at the top.’
“Gordon’s promotion, too, did a major service to Gotham. I think a lot of people take the Joker’s clapping during Gordon’s promotion scene to be sarcastic, but I actually think that Joker believed in Gordon, one of the few officers on the force who was truly incorruptible.”
Overall, the redditor concludes “Gotham was safe because the Joker had cleaned up the streets. He eliminated corrupt police, he destroyed organised crime financially, he uplifted Gotham’s spirit, and he even got rid of the flying pest that had been corrupting Gotham ever since he declared himself its protector.”
There you have it.
I personally love the theory, and you can see how much Heath Ledger enjoys blurring the lines of outright good guys vs outright bad guys throughout the film, especially in this beautiful scene:
I hate getting caught up on psycho-analysing Heath’s performance, but if we dig even deeper here, it makes sense that being an Australian actor, Heath would mess with cliche “hero” formulas. In Christopher Vogler’s book The Writer’s Journey Australia (alongside Germany) is perceived as a very, very anti-hero country.
“The Australians distrust appeals to heroic virtue because such concepts have been used to lure generations of young Australian males into fighting Britain’s battles. Australians have their heroes, of course, but they tend to be unassuming and self-effacing, and will remain reluctant for much longer than heroes in other cultures.”
I’m getting wanky pulling out citations on you, so just put it this way, the saying “Oi yeah nah don’t be a hero” is bloody popular down here!
What do you guys think? As a self-effacing Aussie fella did Mr Ledger (and of course Nolan to an extent) work to disrupt the formulaic hero’s journey and inject his own heroism into the Joker?