I have been a fan of Batman since childhood. My first ever comic book was gifted by my Grandpa. It was a Batman comic, unfortunately, I don’t remember the issue details now. I was barely 7 or 8 then. What made an impact on me was that Batman was good and Joker was bad. It was black and white for me.
My passion for the Bat has never diminished, on the contrary, it has grown exponentially. Most of my wardrobe and writing materials are Batman/Justice League merchandise. I often say, that if Batman were real, Bruce Wayne would have gotten a restraining order for me by now.
Over the years, I have followed the series, and watched all of the animated and motion pictures of Batman, and not until recently (thanks to Heath Ledger and the book “The Killing Joke”), I have actually come to love, understand and feel for The Joker too.
I mean, I still love Batman. He is the dude of all dudes. He is vengeance! he is the night! he is BATMAN! Also, In an alternate universe, where Batman/Bruce Wayne is real, I am married to him. I am Mrs. Bats. Sohini Maitra Wayne.
Anyhoo… back to the topic at hand. With age, now I know that it is not all black and white, The Joker is not all bad; and obviously, Batman is not all white. They are both the bi-products of what society has doled out and how they have reacted to those situations. You cannot really blame an unstable person for doing unstable things. The poor dude just wanted to live his life and bring some smile on people’s faces on the way but was thrown under the metaphorical bus a million times. The alter ego of an unhinged man metamorphosized himself to be the terror that is known as The Joker.
The Joker has been around since 1939. He was created by Bob Cane and was based on Victor Hugo’s character Gwynplaine in the novel The Man Who Laughs. In the comic book world, during its neo natal days, Joker became Joker because he fell into a vat of chemicals, but now we see that Joker became Joker due to the society’s ruthlessness.
The character has undergone many revamping to fit the need of the time. Introduced to the big screen by Ceasar Romero; his Joker was more of a nuisance whose love for puns was uncalled for. Jack Nicholson’s Joker was rather theatrical and Mark Hamill’s Joker was a psychopath but adorable too. The character of Joker became even darker in the New 52 edition where he personified pure evil by altering to become the perfect homicidal megalomaniac. Health Ledger was the golden eyed Joker who could shiver everyone’s booties with his cold blooded and quite practical portrayal of the character. Gotham tv series’ Jerome as the prototype Joker was rather riveting too.
Not going into Jared Leto’s joker because it was abysmal. The makeup and the look were very New 52, but the performance was too bland for my taste.
And now it seems that Health Ledger can finally rest in peace and Mark Hamill can be proud of his legacy after HL. The new trailer featuring Joaquin Phoenix gave me jitters. His Joker looked like a completely broken man psychologically, and the “good” people of the city helping him drive over the edge to transform into the “monster”.
See trailer if you’ve lived under a rock and missed it…
I believe that within each one of us, there lives a Batman and a Joker. What we become prominent depends on which one are we fueling with fervor.