WARNING: This post is spoiler-filled.
Hi again! Glad to have you reading part 2 of my analysis. Picking up from the last post (which I highly suggest you read if you haven’t yet), we’ll be delving in deeper into the characters. If you want to read about Harley Quinn already, go straight to Part 3 (stay tuned)!
I ended the last post asking whether Harley is someone to be trusted, despite the fact that she is the Joker’s (ex)girlfriend. But before we get to that, let’s close in on the Joker’s backstory as told in the Killing Joke:
As Batman said, Joker always changes the storyline every time he tells it to another person, because like a comedian, you gotta adjust to your audience. In this comic, we see more of the Joker in a vulnerable light; he laments over remembering the past and finds it dangerous, preferring the past to be multiple choice than anything definite, however in Endgame, rather than multiple choice he likened it to “choose-your-own-adventure”. On the left, he tells Gordon that we act based on what we already know, since we learn from past mistakes, but since he is trying to prove a point here, he is trying to coax him into thinking that not everything we do has to make sense.
If we can’t face them, we deny reason itself!
If you pay attention to the Joker’s story, what is consistent is him falling into a vat of chemicals and emerging with discolored skin, red lips and green hair, as well as donning the red hood’s helmet, and the presence of Batman. In Endgame, we are faced with multiple origin stories of how the Joker really came about, and we learn his gift of gab, able to convince people of the strangest ways he became the Joker. It may seem that Joker is mostly just running away from his past because he can’t face it, and according to the comics, it was told that instead of the Joker’s wife dying by electrocution, she was actually kidnapped and killed by the men he talked to, to coerce him into donning the red hood’s helmet and committing the crime they planned.
What I make of this is that it seems like Joker’s mind is muddled and does not completely remember his past, and rather than trying to piece everything together, he just makes things up as it goes, as he does claim he is more of an improv kind of guy. This makes sense because he sees life as a joke; there is no point in what we struggle to do, so might as well have fun. What adds to this is that so many people want to know who he really is, and from that, he can make his own audience and have fun with those that are trying to piece everything together. Imagine if nobody cared about his story: He would have no audience, and we don’t know what he would have done instead, so in one way, it seems that disrupting the order and calling attention to himself is the perfect way to “have fun”.
From the Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight documentary by the History Channel, they say that insanity is not a clinical term, it is a legal term. I am no psychology major, but I think it’s safe to say that the Joker isn’t hopeless. From the Killing Joke, we can clearly see how desperate he seems to prove that everyone is just like him, and he chose to do it to the people that never understood his jokes as the perfect evidence, i.e. James Gordon. Much like John Mayer’s quote:
Sometimes you tell someone to never call you again and then the phone rings and you hope it’s them, it’s the most twisted logic of all time.
Is there a person in the world that exists to downgrade themselves? Like I mentioned in Part 1, Joker likes a challenge, so he really tries to keep coming up with brilliant and witty plans, which dispels just branding him as insane, because like everyone else, we progress, only he sees everything on the polar opposite side of the spectrum. Just like how it is acknowledged that Batman and the Joker are one and the same, they are just fighting for different things: Order and chaos.
In Joker: Last Laugh, the people in Arkham know you can’t just brand him as mad. Batman and all the rest want to understand why the Joker acts the way he does, and who’s to say the Joker doesn’t want to understand why Batman obsessively fights for justice?
The examples he gave don’t seem very far off from the ones I mentioned in earlier paragraphs, but we’ll never truly know for sure. From this, it really shows how he puts Batman in such high regard, and in reference to Part 1, he goes so far as to try to understand him; his viewpoint as to why he and so many others fight so hard to prove that life is meaningful despite the presence of so much evil. We see this from all of the allies and friends Bruce made on his journey, knowing fully well that without them (Alfred, Dick, Barbara, etc.), he couldn’t get this far. In The Joker: Endgame, Alfred explains that Bruce has always known Batman’s story is a tragedy, though many would not like to believe it. As Gordon says in the end dialogue of the Dark Knight, “[H]e’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.”
He says, live bravely in the time you have, and smile at the void. – Alfred
It is also mentioned in the documentary how self-discipline is one of Bruce Wayne’s greatest feats, and one they even considered to be his superpower. This might sound absurd to you, but self-discipline requires a lot of self-awareness, and self-awareness is very difficult to achieve, because it means admitting a lot of your own faults and learning more about who you are. He even admitted that he was very much like the Joker, and not many people would like to admit they are similar to their adversary/ies.
One stark contrast in the way Batman and Joker operate is how they interact with others. Joker knows people are expendable and replaceable. Why trust someone when, in a moment of a dark hour, there is a possibility that someone can screw you over? Batman had to push people away because it got in the way of his goals; he couldn’t just stop his vigilante activities and settle down, but earning people’s trust helped him in the long run and although the process made him both happy and hurt, it’s one of the best ways to know you are alive. It’s one reason why art is greatly appreciated.
Joker, on the other hand, doesn’t see it that way. It’s futile, and the moment he started to feel anything for anyone else, he knew he had to destroy. Harley Quinn is the best example for this.
Harley Quinn wants to settle down with the Joker. Even in Suicide Squad, you see this, but what doesn’t make sense is here in the photo from elitedaily.com. (What also didn’t make sense to me is how their relationship was depicted in the movie.)
Based from all the evidence I’ve shown you via comics, why does Joker want to get rid of Harley? Why can’t he settle down or see things the way she does? Because he can’t: It is against what he is fighting for. You fall in love – get together – get married – have children. This is a typical happy ending. Chaotic? Not at all. And like Batman, will the Joker stop his crimes just to settle down? Sure, he and Harley can still come up with that, but you cannot find Harley doing her acrobatics while pregnant, and you can definitely not see the Joker changing a diaper. Or can you?
It’s one thing that really didn’t make sense to me in the Suicide Squad movie, (who knows, perhaps another version with more deleted scenes will be released) because although the Joker is protective and/or seldom possessive of Harley, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a #goals relationship. If you read the Power Girl and Harley Quinn comics, she herself tells other people that when you’re so in love, your perception on your relationship can become muddled and may hinder you from seeing how toxic the relationship is. An understatement, really. Poison Ivy herself tries to convince Harley of this in Joker’s Last Laugh. I couldn’t understand exactly why the Joker kept trying to break her out of the squad, and why he even had the baby clothes lined up along with his weaponry. I wondered if he had those just to keep manipulating Harley, to keep her close to him and doing his bidding, with her thinking maybe after everything “blows over”, things will go her way. That, or could be referencing Injustice: Year Two.
This could possibly be addressed with any future Suicide Squad movies which will then slowly show how messed up Joker and Harley’s relationship is. In this comic, Harley tells Black Canary that she knows Joker never could have put off his work. She also mentions that she was away for almost a year, but the Joker never missed her.
It’s really ironic how Joker seems to want to be understood, but only searches for it from Batman, and is not even contented at all with finding someone, Harley, who is one of the best people who can actually understand him.
I’m honestly sad that there is no Joker stand-alone movie, not until The Killing Joke (which brought back Mark Hamill voicing the Joker. Much love.) came out. It pains me sometimes how DC could have used this, they could have released a solo live-action Joker movie then Harley Quinn’s own movie, which could have involved most if not all of the other members of the Suicide Squad just to at least introduce them, and then release Suicide Squad rather than releasing Suicide Squad first after the Avengers came out (since absolutely no character in Suicide Squad had a solo movie prior), but that’s just me.
Stay tuned for Part 3!
Agree? Disagree? Violent reactions? Leave a comment below! Let’s start a discussion!