The Dark Knight Characters
Introducing…The Joker • In Gotham city there is a representation of the typical evil that exists among men. • There are the mob bosses like Maroni. Criminals who lack any true complexity; they are lovers of money and lovers of power. • But the Joker is a different breed of criminal.
There is no exact origin story given for The Joker in The Dark Knight. Other Batman tales show how he became what he was but Nolan keeps it vague. The Joker himself offers various accounts (“You wanna know how I got these scars?”). Batman is like his toy, a force of good that strives to heal the world while Joker thrives on the bottled chaos that flows in the subconscious of the civilised human. It could even be argued that Batman needs The Joker. Not Bruce Wayne, but whenever The Joker is around Batman cannot retire.
In The Dark Knight Alfred tells Bruce the story of a ruby bandit in Burma. Alfred Pennyworth: A long time ago, I was in Burma, my friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never found anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away. Bruce Wayne: Then why steal them? Alfred Pennyworth: Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
What is the Joker? • The Joker is an anarchist. • A scheming genius. • The central character of the film?
Batman’s uncompromising moral code, seems to be the very thing that continues to feed The Joker’s motivation. • He baits Batman to kill him, to break his purity. He obviously fails. So the plan changes…if he can’t defeat Batman maybe he can defeat the people?
The mass exodus of Gotham, after threats from the Joker, leaves two ferries broken down in Gotham River- one with criminals and one with citizens- both rigged handsomely with explosives, the triggers in the hands of the other boat (chaos is a complex game to play sometimes). But the people of Gotham, though quick to panic when provoked by the Joker, still have a conscience.
“You just couldn’t let me go could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible aren’t you? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness, and I won’t kill you, because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”
Batman/Bruce Wayne… • When I was young I saw the cartoon The Justice League. Full of all the DC superheroes. Superheroes with super powers. Super speed, Super (Power)Rings, Wonder Woman and of course Superman. Then there was Batman. ‘But Batman doesn’t really have any super powers’ I thought. But then I realised: Isn’t that one of the things that makes Batman so cool? • They say with great power comes great responsibility, but Batman wasn’t gifted any of these performance enhancing abilities- thus anyone of us could be him. He is just one man dishing out some pure revenge for the good of everybody.
Back story…. We all know the story of Batman’s childhood, his saintly parents needlessly murdered. He grows up, never freed from that traumatic experience and seeks to bring justice to those responsible.
He finds an intricate mob system in place; corrupt police, low level thugs and ruthless evil bosses perfectly out of reach of the long arm of the Gotham law. • So Wayne uses his millions and his relentless vengeful motivation to become a vigilante force within the city. • He chooses the symbol of the bat to strike fear into criminals just like bats once did to him as a child. • The Batman is born.
Batman’s alter ego- Bruce Wayne • Which is more fictional Batman or Wayne?
Most people crave and even need recognition for doing good– but who can give Batman recognition? • He is afterall a faceless vigilante who rarely engages in conversation.
Batman, despite his vigilante approach still has faith in the law and order of society. • He strives to catch the villains and hand them over to the police for due process. • He is always in contact with Jim Gordon when looking for ways to thwart the baddies. • His most valiant moral code is that Batman never kills.
But every superhero has a weakness. Batman’s initial intentions and final results are always pure and aligned with the view of modern law, it is in the middle where he treads a thin line. Vigilantism is against the law.
But as the stakes get higher so does the need to push the boundaries of means/ends justification. • Like any action movie, city streets are demolished and international laws and jurisdiction are tossed aside. • Batman begins to torture a suspect in custody. • He taps into every phone in the city.
Batman is the only person who can do this- Why? • because he isn’t a person- he is a symbol. • He isn’t accountable. • SO who is?
It may be difficult for someone to act like this, in such a selfless manner… • Batman never sought any public recognition. • He takes full responsibility. • He bears the physical demands • He does what others are scared or forbidden to do. • He accepts Lucius’ resignation • He sacrifices living with the love of his life.
Inspirational…? • In the end all Batman hoped to do was inspire the spirits of the people of Gotham. • Harvey Dent was one of those he inspired. • Did he inspire the Joker?
“You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Harvey Dent, Gotham’s White Knight, is the city’s new District Attorney and he always has his game face on when prosecuting crime. • He is seen by the citizens of Gotham as this incorruptible force, an enforcer of law who is willing to take the fight to the mob.
Dent is everything Batman can’t be. • He is a tangible face fighting for Gotham’s citizens. He is someone that inspires others. • He lives a strong, untarnished life within the bounds of the law. • The titles each man has (The Dark Knight and the White Knight) ensures that viewers compare the two characters… • FORM A COMPARISON CHART COMPARING THE TWO CHARACTERS.
For all that goes on in Dark Knight between The Batman and The Joker, it could easily be looked at as the origin of the Twoface story. • Harvey is one of the first reactions to the work done by Batman. • Harvey rose to the DA position after investigating police corruption through internal affairs. • He has a guilt-free conscience in the fight for justice, and he applies this moral standard with the strength of his convictions.
The second thing about Harvey Dent, and most of the characters of Gotham, is the symbolism — and Harvey Dent is some of the simplest yet compelling symbolism around. A District Attorney should be sure of himself, he should possess an unflinching desire to do good. • What Harvey has is a coin he flips on every important decision. ‘Heads – yes; tails – no.’ But the trick is his coin has two heads on it (two faces you could say!). Initially it is thought that in the fight for justice Harvey Dent cannot be compromised.
While The Batman and The Joker battle it out over every inch of Gotham’s soul, it is the soul of Harvey Dent that becomes the biggest battleground. • Ultimately the Joker is triumphant BUT Gotham never knows and Batman and Gordon believe this will torment the Joker.
The Joker wins this fight. • He proved to Dent that justice is a myth. That chaos and anarchy are inherent in man. • Chance is the only form of justice that can’t discriminate. Twoface will never make another decision in his life.
His first flip of the coin is The Joker; Live or Die. The coin spares his life. But Harvey isn’t finished. The crooked cops who fell under the Joker’s sway; Live or Die. Sal Maroni, head of the mob; Live or Die. Finally his logic takes him to Gordon and Batman. Why would the commissioner let such a corrupt force exist? Why would The Batman save him and not his girl? Live or Die.
The taking of Gordon’s family is the ultimate sign of Harvey’s corruption- he has always upheld justice and the protection of the innocent now he is willing to sacrifice one of them.