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Jack Nicholson's Joker actually isn't insane. He was always a clinical sociopath. The only thing that changed with his change to the Joker was that he became The Unfettered due to the realization his boss was never going to let him inherit control of Gotham City. Really, all of the clown stuff was just window dressing to the fact he (ironically) looked like a clown.
One essay noted: "Early in Batman, before he becomes the Joker, Nicholson's Jack Napier preens in front of a mirror. You look fine, says a glamorous woman admiringly, as she places a hand on his shoulder. I didn't ask, snarls Napier, shrugging off her hand. A man so vain would be completely undone by losing his looks. He would feel as if he'd died, which the Joker does indeed."
Although fans were initially dismayed by the idea of Michael Keaton being cast as Batman, it actually makes a lot of sense. After all, if you didn't think a man like Keaton could be Batman, then isn't that precisely the kind of reaction Bruce Wayne would be attempting to invoke about himself to preserve his secret identity?
This was, in fact, Keaton's reasoning. He said in an interview that the actor doesn't have to play Batman as much as he has to play Bruce Wayne, or something similar.
I always wondered why Alfred would slip up and tell Vicki that he and Bruce are going to be there for a while. Alfred is always very quick to catch on to what Master Bruce is doing and would surely have known what day it was...until I realized he did it on purpose! He obviously thought Vicki was good for Bruce and did his best throughout the film to make sure they stayed together, including letting her in the Bat Cave.
Why did Vicki have almost no reaction to the revelation that Bruce Wayne is Batman upon entering the Batcave (as noted by Ebert and other critics)? Because she already figured it out before hand when she saw the newspaper clipping.
Also, when she was riding with Batman, she noticed the look on his face, which was the same look she saw Bruce made after visiting the spot where his parents died, and on the newspaper clipping as a kid. Also, she tells Alfred she knows, which is why Alfred let her in the Batcave.
The news bulletin after the one where the newscaster dies shows both presenters scruffy, puffy and laden with zits because people can't trust their cosmetics not to be laced with Smilex.
As noted on the main page, the Joker's getting rid of Vicki's high heels initially just seems to be because they are slowing her (and consequently, his escape) down. However, combined with his later removal of her coat and the fact that the items are left for Batman to find as he ascends the tower after them, it seems Joker was in fact baiting Batman by making him think Vicki was being subjected to a Shameful Strip.
When Eckhart mutters, "Where have you been spending your nights?", it becomes obvious who ratted out Napier's affair with Alicia to Grissom.
The Joker does remark, "Beautiful... in an old-fashioned way." So, yeah, he was getting ready to give her a little makeover.
Meta Example: Jack Nicholson played the Devil in The Witches of Eastwick. We see him dancing with Vicki Vale "by the pale moonlight". Might be seen as confirmation that he does indeed plan to kill Vicki.
It's not that Batman's worried in the abstract that a murder would tarnish him, so much as it is that killing the Joker in specific would. The Joker is, after all, a lunatic, and not in control of himself. Batman, in contrast, tries to be the paragon of self-restraint and dedication to a higher ideal of justice. To kill the Joker, Batman must first admit that the justice he believes in is illusory. He wants to do it, he clearly knows that mathematically, leaving the Joker alive causes more deaths. He just knows that if he kills someone who can't help himself, he may as well be killing innocents.
The Joker has acted on this multiple times, trying to commit suicide by Batman just to get Batman to compromise his morals. going with the Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knightcharacter interpretation, maybe he doesn't want Batman dead; maybe he wants the most moral person in Gotham to become a villain to prove his point. It is all just a game to him. Of course, it depends on the writer.
This phenomenon is best explained in the animated adaptation. Jason questions whether Bruce feels it would be too hard to give up the moral high ground, and Bruce counters that it'd be too damned easy. He elaborates that every day he contemplates torturing Joker like he's done to so many others before putting him down. Bruce basically says that if he breaks his no-kill code for Joker, there's nothing holding him back from killing other criminals. As he puts it, "... if I allow myself to go down into that place... I'll never come out."
Joker knows Bruce Wayne is Batman, especially after Batman unmasked in front of him during the "Batman RIP". While Joker has largely stated that he doesn't care who is under the cowl, the fact that he KNOWS Bruce Wayne is Batman is enough to chill a person's spine given that if the Joker got bored enough, one day he might act upon this information for massive damage.
In Deathofthe Family, Joker already knew who Batman was ever since the latter paid a visit to him in Arkham as Bruce Wayne, shortly after taking Dick in. After Bruce shows him the playing card that he left behind from one of their earlier skirmishes, Joker simply turns away and ignores him. This proves that Joker really DOESN'T care who is under the cowl as long as he gets to duke it out with his nemesis for his own twisted sense of amusement. In a way, "Batman" is one of the few (if not only) motivation that Joker has for livng.
Dan Jurgens, during the most recent version of the "History of the DC Universe", opined the notion that Joker specifically carried out his attack on Commissioner Gordon and Barbara Gordon (which led to him trying to drive Commissioner Gordon insane and crippling Barbara Gordon for life) in The Killing Joke not to make a point about the slippery slope of insanity, but because he wanted to destroy people Batman cared about in order to hurt him in order to compensate for the fact that he couldn't kill Batman himself. Given how Joker is insane enough to be playing chess on God knows how many levels, that adds a new level of horror as far as why he picked Gordon for his experiment.
Not to mention the fact that Joker basically crippled Batgirl without even KNOWING that Barbara was Batgirl. Though he later found out after the fact, it's a scary thing to know that Joker eliminated one of his main enemies as an innocent bystander.
This bit of Fridge Horror was partially undone by her conversion to Oracle. He didn't eliminate her. Not even close.
The Joker is, in a meta-way, the greatest hero in the DCU. Many times, The Joker's insanity is described as not insanity at all, but rather, "supersanity": a level of sanity that legitimately qualifies as a super power, and makes him appear to be insane to everybody else (after all, in a lunatic asylum, the patients would probably all perceive a sane person as being crazy). This is not the brilliance. The Joker's supersanity has also been said to grant The Joker Medium Awareness. The Joker is the only character who seems to be aware of the fact that he is a character in a comic book. This is also not the brilliance. The brilliance is that, being a transcendently sane person aware of his existence as a character in a comic book, he is aware that A) all the people around him do not really exist, and therefore are not alive in the first place, and B) every story must have a villain. Ergo, The Joker is just playing his part to entertain us, the readers, without whom the comic world would not exist in the first place. By playing the part of an insane homicidal clown, he is helping to save his universe from non-existence.
Of course, the Golden Age and Silver Age versions didn't have this problem, people had shorter lifespans back then, but as pointed out here, the thought that Bruce was all alone with no family after his parents' murder is strange in modern times.
I had always assumed that they had named Alfred as his legal guardian in the event that they died. His grandparents on both sides could have already passed and it's entirely possibly for Thomas and Martha to have both been only children. And if there were some slightly distant members of the Wayne family, here's always the possibility that they may have looked at the Wayne fortune and well... it brings to mind the plot of a certain book series. Of course this is partially WMG, but still possible.
I assume they left Alfred as Bruce's legal guardian in their will to prevent all sorts of relatives and people from trying to get control of Bruce to get control of the Wayne fortune. Otherwise anyone who was Bruce's legal guardian in case of their deaths could just kill them, take custody of Bruce and use him to get to the money. By leaving Bruce to Alfred whom they trusted they circumvented Bruce being used this way and protected themselves from foul play.
There's one moment in Batman No Mans Land that smacks HARD of Fridge Brilliance. After the earthquake decimates Gotham, Jim Gordon actually considers looking for a career outside of Gotham, only to discover that to law enforcement outside of Gotham, he's considered a joke. Now us as readers would feel immensely insulted at this, since we KNOW that Jim Gordon is the hardest working, most honest, good man in the entire Gotham police force, maybe even the DCU, but then put yourself in those cops' shoes: Gotham is a Wretched Hive with the highest crime rate in the nation; it's constantly plagued by the most insane, violent criminals in the entire DCU; is legendary for police corruption; and to actually maintain a semblance of order, the police actually informally condone the actions of a masked vigilante. From an outside point of view, Jim Gordon does totally seem like an incompetent.
Originally, Two-Face was just a nihilistic thug who felt that he might as well make decisions on a coin toss. The idea of having a split personality could've been invented by the quacks at Arkham, since Dissociative Identity Disorder (previously called Multiple Personality Disorder) is infamous for being faked by sociopaths and/or created by doctors. For every person for which the diagnosis would be relevant, there are several patients who were put under hypnosis by doctors who created the mental construct believing they were just exposing an existing problem.
Have you ever noticed why Gotham City, whenever it is depicted in comic books, film, television shows, cartoons, or video games, is always depicted in a thick fog? Well, if you need to make something like the Batsignal, which is basically a giant flashlight, visible against the night sky so that a vigilante can see it from anywhere in a giant metropolis like Gotham, what better weather condition to have than constant fog?
One of the reasons why Dick is so much more well-adjusted than Bruce is because Bruce's parents died when he was eight while Dick was closer to twelve, possibly even thirteen. Dick was already starting to grow more independent from his parents and starting to form his own identity while Bruce was at a stage in his life where you rely on your parents for everything, even a sense of self. Another thing is that the Flying Graysons were trapeze artists whose main attraction was that they often worked without a net, and when you work in a line like that you must accept the fact that accidents can and will happen. Dick always knew at the back of his mind that there may come a night where his parents might not come home. He may not expect it, but he knew it could happen. Bruce's parents were socialites there was no inherent danger in their lives and thus their loss is so much more shattering for him.
It's also possible that Dick benefited from having what Bruce didn't have: Someone around him who knew what he was going through.
Legendarylugi has always understood that being a Badass Normal is what Batman's all about. He's meant to be "feasible" in our world. Nonetheless, it has puzzled me in the past that whenever they give him temporary superpowers, it's always someone else's powers or a mech-suit or something that otherwise has little to do with bats. Then it occured to me: that is precisely the point. If they gave him non-tech powers entwined in his mythos (like make a pact with some Bat-god or whatever), those powers would be much, much harder to throw-away by the end of the issue! No matter how well meaning the author of such a story, no matter how carefully he disposes of those powers, the potential for abuse is tremendous... people would be tempted to bring those powers back into the story more and more often, undermining the point of them being a one-shot deal, and it could cripple the hard-earned reputation of the Bat-mythos as the ultimate Badass Normal. — Legendarylugi
I knew that Batman in recent years is said to have a secret plan to defeat any of his fellow heroes in case they go evil. I came to realize that he did, in fact, also have a plan in place to defeat himself if he went evil: having a second person close to him, with a similar past, has spent his life studying Batman's fighting style (and adding his own twists to it), is personally familiar with both his lives as Batman and Bruce Wayne, and is young enough that he wouldn't be corrupted by whatever cynicism drove Batman himself over the edge. In other words: Robin. -Thunder Phoenix
I just realized that and another thing: his increased detachment and douchebaggery towards his former and current sidekicks in the recent years has been a calculated move to make them able to defeat him if they ever needed to. — Jericho
The one person he stays civil towards at all times is Alfred. Even when he's angry, exhausted, bitter, ect. He would never hurt Alfred willingly. So if he ever does, everyone will know that he's either gone too far or influenced by another being. And since the entire Bat-Family (and most other heroes that visit the Batcave) love and are loved by Alfred, they will not hesitate to protect him and fight Bruce.-Calico
This does go a long way toward explaining why Batman was distant toward Dick Grayson as he became Nightwing: not only did it allow his former protegee to more clearly establish his own identity (and gain a considerable network of allies, including many of Batman's allies) it increased Grayson/Nightwing's effectiveness should Batman ever need to be confronted.
It also explains why Batman seems to go through partners rather quickly: he's literally pushing the Robins from the nest as they get old enough to operate on their own.
Reading this, I thought of another level... while Batman doesn't really need a fail-safe to protect the world from himself (Bruce Wayne is actually far more dangerous), he DOES need to protect HIMSELF from his own ever-festering dark side. The Robins, Alfred, Jim Gordon, the JLA, all of his out-of-character closeness to people who can stop him is part of a massively-obsessive program to deter himself from going rogue and eventually doing something to disappoint his parents' ghosts. I'm Black Mister Scott, and I approved this message.
It was only recently that I realized why The Joker's trademark outfits are almost always purple, all the way back to his first appearance - his insanity is achieved by mixing the aspects of Red Oni, Blue Oni (he's Ax-Crazy and often not concerned with "take over the world" schemes, but at the same time extremely proud and concocts elaborate plots simply to inflict misery on insignificant-seeming people), much like red and blue are mixed to create purple.
If you view their partnership as if they are some sort of comedy duo, Harley Quinn is the Joker's straight man.
Doubly funny, because she's neither a man, nor apparently from the various insinuations, straight.
Red Robin is a ridiculous name, mainly because of the American restaurant chain. But it occurred to me that they wouldn't have Red Robins in Gotham. It's a target painted precisely for the Joker. Wouldn't be surprised if they don't have McDonald's, either.
Although the movies show the batsuit as jet black, the comics and animated series usually show it as dark shades of gray and blue. But if you read a little about camouflage turns out that if you don't want to be seen at night dark grays and blues actually work much better then jet black. Since no urban environment is ever going to be absolutely pitch black a pitch black suit is going to stand out as a silhouette, while dark grays and blues allow one to hide in the shadows much better. What better choice for Batman? And the cape would further help to breakup the human silhouette that the eye instinctively can pick out.
A cross-media example; one of the frequent observations / criticisms of the Batman:Arkham series of video games is that the in-game Detective Vision, which enables you to analyse your surroundings and the people around you for clues, threats and secrets at the expense of dulling the surrounding environment to a hazy blue colour and causing everyone you encounter to appear as a skeleton, is so useful it is rarely worth switching it off, which it's felt ends up dulling down the graphics for the player's gaming experience. In the games, as a shout out, this is also what turns Batman's eyes into white slits, as in the comics. Which leads to the inescapable conclusion that in the comics, Batman finds it so useful that he never switches it off either, and because he's, well, Batman he doesn't care that the world seems dulled down as a result.
The Red Robin suit Jason Todd and Tim Drake wear really just seems to come out of nowhere as a Shout-Out to Kingdom Come. However, Jason found it on Earth-51, where Batman killed every supervillain in response to Jason's death. The Batman of this earth also states that he intended to give it to his Jason when he became older. Assuming that before A Death In The Family these two earths were identical, this means the Batman of New-Earth developed the same suit for Jason with the same intended purpose. This probably means that Batman predicted that Jason would eventually want to strike out on his own, just as Dick had, and created a suit just for this purpose.
An interesting thought about Batman: he is not your typical vengeance-driven vigilante. He still has faith in law and order. The closest thing he has to a best friend is the Police Commissioner. He works with the police as much as he works alone, and the worst he will do to a criminal is incapacitate them and leave them for the cops. He realizes the justice system is flawed - severely flawed in Gotham City - but he does not consider himself above it. He sees himself as a part of the system. An unusual, extraordinary part, granted, but still a part of it. He wants legitimacy. He wants validation that what he is doing is a good thing. Despite being a terrifying, Crazy-Prepared Berserker vigilante, he still cares what the people in charge think of him. Emotionally, he's still a child seeking approval.
After Darksied sends Bruce back in time, Bruce speaks into a recording device "don't forget. Survive." This statement has a dual meaning. It can be interpreted as a memo like: "don't forget, drop-off at 8." Or it could mean "don't forget, or you will die." So its either "don't forget to survive." or "don't forget or you don't survive." Okay yeah, this is a weird one.
Superman's portrayal in The Dark Knight Returns is one of the most frequently criticized parts of the story. Most people see Superman being a government agent as wildly out of character. But it actually makes perfect sense. In the story Superman has the (then) modern characterization, which is a totally non-offensive flag waving boy scout who followed strict rules of goodness. Miller very easily finds the flaw in that interpretation, which is that a Superman who is above all a great law abiding citizen and patriot would do exactly what the President told him to do. Even Superman fighting in the Corto Maltese is in line with his participation in World War II. Furthermore, in his characterizations of Batman and the Joker Miller went back to their earliest stories, where Batman was even more violent than he was in TDKR and Joker was a serial killer with an ironic nickname. Miller may have done the same thing with Superman but in a different way. Superman's 1938 characterization actually had a lot in common with Batman as portrayed in the story. He crippled people, he threatened to murder them, he psychologically tortured them, he did whatever it took to get the job done. Miller's Superman began his career in his original characterization and experienced the same Badass Decay that the mainstream version did. That would explain why Batman has zero respect for him, he softened up and forgot what he was supposed to be.
Why does even the Joker have too much standards to work alongside the Red Skull during the Batman/Captain America crossover? Because some of the most popular comedians and entertainers during the 1930s were Jewish, including the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, Milton Berle, George Burns and Mel Blanc, among others.
Consider the defining traits of the Joker for a second: