Batman movies continue to rage forward, but The Dark Knight still reserves space in the minds of comic book fans. Much of the allure of this Christopher Nolan film comes down to the mystique of Heath Ledger, whose own chilling journal recently resurfaced to provide a glimpse on Ledger’s state of mind while playing the Joker. Ledger’s portrayal was so compelling that one almost feels sorry for Jared Leto, who will stop short at nothing to “method” up his performance in Suicide Squad and scare the bejesus out of everyone (even his fellow actors).
We won’t know Leto’s level of success for a good year, but in the meantime, we can puzzle over a new alternate theory about Ledger’s Joker. An intricate (and viral) explanation from Reddit user GeneralZee makes the case that The Dark Knight‘s Joker is a misconstrued fellow and undercover hero. Here’s how the theory begins:
Joker, although a lying psychopath, is actually the hero in The Dark Knight. Before the Joker, Gotham was a mess. Entire sections of the city were closed off due to madness, organized 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 (Okay, special armor and carbon fiber, but they don’t know that).
Along comes the Joker and by the end of a very short time, almost all organized 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 Joker’s masterfully executed plan.
Those paragraphs only scratch the surface of the expanded Reddit posting. In the end, Batman becomes “a true villain, the kind that abandons his own principles” when he kills Harvey Dent. Indeed, one can easily conclude that Batman broke his own code, and so he disappeared at the end of the film (only to become an urban legend, which is a whole other discussion).
The crux of the theory is that the Joker manipulated Batman into killing Dent, and getting Batman out of Gotham was part of Joker’s ultimate plan. After all, one cannot have a bunch of vigilantes running unabated throughout any city. It also follows that the Joker was pulling the strings with Dent, although he didn’t mean for Dent to get physically hurt. But that act also feeds into the Joker’s plans (that he claimed to not have, ever) to get his meddlers out of the picture.
By the end of the piece, the Joker comes out lookin’ pretty benevolent, if not sane. He chose to rob a mafia-run bank, messed up all the finances for organized crime in Gotham, and rid the city of crooked cops. The Joker also ousted the vigilante-villainous human bat. The most mind melting aspect of the theory has to do with Heath Ledger’s amazing clapping scene. Generalzee argues how, while many people see Ledger’s claps towards Commissioner Gordon are sarcastic, the Joker felt differently. He “believed in Gordon, one of the few officers on the force who was truly incorruptible.” So feel free to believe that the Joker was actually showing his respect in that scene.
This isn’t the first fan theory about this subject, and it won’t be the last. The reason why this theory seems to work is all down to Heath Ledger’s phenomenal performance. If Ledger hadn’t given this character his all (possibly to the actor’s detriment), there’d be no ambiguity from which to draw. This alternate theory wouldn’t be plausible without him, but it works now. Let’s just say it’s an interesting take.