villains and vigilantes

The Man Who Laughs

the joke : origin and character analysis

Today I talk about the man who laughs. He has earned every right to the title of the arch enemy of the most badass hero in the comic universe. The movies, the games and the comic books have portrayed the character quite diversely. Pure geeks and nerds stick to the comics whereas those unaware of the graphic novels choose to stay with the movie version. I was initially one of the latter, until my friends introduced me to the real Joker. I have read before that Joker was supposed to be nothing more than a nuisance for the batman, but I would gladly defy this by showing his true sinister psychosis from the comics.

Origin :
Joker’s origin has not been revealed explicitly ever in the comics and is not even close in the movies. The closest story you would hear about joker is in the comic “The Killing Joke” . His early life is portrayed as that of a failed comedian who is struggling in Gotham to make money for struggling jokerdaily bread for his wife and yet to be born child. Throughout the whole story his name is never stated. It is shown that in dire need of money, he takes up on the offer of heist at the chemical factory where he previously worked. On the day of the heist, he receives the news of the demise of his wife. She got electrocuted while operating the toaster. His world shatters in front of him, but his new “colleagues” successfully persuade him to go ahead with the plan. Just before the act he’s given a red hood to use as a mask during the operation, which makes him see everything in a shade of red. However, the job doesn’t go as planned & the cops show up, followed by the arrival of batman. Seeing him as the devil creature in red the guy slips into one of the chemical containers, only to be drained out from the other end with his face bleached white and hair dyed green. As soon as he gets a chance to look at himself he laughs uncontrollably at his fate. Thus was born the Joker!

 

Character analysis :
Based on the origin story of the character one can assume the lack of faith in the system. Nobody was there to help him through difficult times and when he tried to get out of that they called the devil on him. From the inside he’s so frustrated with the system or even the law and order that he becomes literally the agent of chaos with one and only one aim; to remove everyone’s faith from a structured, ordered, functioning sane system.

Memory’s so treacherous. One moment you’re lost in a carnival of delights, with poignant childhood aromas, the flashing neon of puberty, all that sentimental candy-floss… the next, it leads you somewhere you don’t want to go. Somewhere dark and cold, filled with the damp ambiguous shapes of things you’d hoped were forgotten. Memories can be vile, repulsive little brutes. Like children I suppose. But can we live without them? Memories are what our reason is based upon. If we can’t face them, we deny reason itself! Although, why not? We aren’t contractually tied down to rationality! There is no sanity clause! So when you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unbearable, remember there’s always madness. Madness is the emergency exit… you can just step outside, and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened. You can lock them away… forever.          – The Joker

So, who else to target other than the symbol of law itself? That is the reason he wants to break batman’s code of “No Killing”. To Show that any strong functioning being can be broken. This attachment to Batman has led the fandom to believe that maybe batman and joker are the different sides of the same coin. Both have lost someone they dearly loved, but both choose a different way to show their pain to the world. The joker is very comfortable with this fact, but the bat does not agree. The joker wants to prove simply that if one has a real enough bad day, then every test case, one will choose insanity as the exact route. So far he has failed to prove his point. He is the only one who doesn’t want to kill the bat but eventually break the bat’s belief.

In one issue of the comics, Joker teamed up with the Scarecrow for some job. Out of curiosity, Scarecrow tries to look into what Joker fears by gassing him up with the Scarecrow Toxin. The result was nothing but interesting. The toxin didn’t seemed to affect Joker at all. Instead, Joker threw Scarecrow out of the window for trying such a gimmick. This goes to show that Joker isn’t afraid of anything. He isn’t even afraid of his own death. That was also shown when in The Dark Knight, he is pushed out of a building and still, goes laughing all the way down.

What better way to conclude that a quote of from the clown prince himself .. “remember there’s always madness.”

Joker-gun

 

Pic credit DC Comics

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    rhea sinha
    June 11, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Very nice start Aditya! Joker and batman different sides of one coin.. that is an insightful comparison.
    And I really like the quote you selected.. the writers of graphic novels are amazing aren’t they? In small snippets how well they can capture attention.

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