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The Joker, The Protagonist

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Batman is one of the most iconic superheroes of all time, and the movie the Dark Knight is no exception to his reputation, or is it?  Throughout the whole movie Christopher Nolan wants you to think that Bruce Wayne of Batman is the hero but some critical scenes prove otherwise.  Who is the real hero then one may ask, and the second easiest answer would be Harvey Dent for a large portion of the movie however, they person thought to be the antagonist is the unsung hero of it all or the Joker.  There are many examples of his heroics that are looked at as evil because he is supposed to be the bad guy however this is not the case.  Some things he does are in a short amount of time practically eliminates organized crime.  On top of that he also gets rid of a city-wide vigilante problem.  Finally he imprisons and kills corrupt officials. 

 

The first problem that is tackled by The Joker is the organized crime problem.  In the very first scene of the movie he robs a bank owned by the mob.  He steals large sums of money and destabilizes that crime family.  On top of that he wasn’t working solo he worked with master bank robbers and by the end he kills all of them taking a group of bank robbers off the streets of Gotham.  A little later he kills a crime bosses man with a pencil so he infiltrates that family with ease and disrupts it.  Later on he escapes them and Gambol puts a hit on him.  One of his men brings in the supposed dead body of Joker and when he unzips the Joker and not after long he kills Gambol who is a crime boss.  Now he has control over all of the people who had former allegiance to Gambol.  Then he invades another meeting of all the crime bosses, when he arrives they ask him “What do you propose?” to which he replies “It's simple. We, uh, kill the Batman.”Then Salvatore Maroni asks “If it's so simple, why haven't you done it already?” To which The Joker replies, “If you're good at something, never do it for free.”   This shows that he wants to rip off crime bosses for their money.  A little later on in the movie Joker has basically infiltrated all major crime families and there is a scene with a pile of all the money which he contributes to and Joker covers it in gasoline and burns all of the money (The Dark Knight).  This may seem like his madness but in actuality this is playing into his larger plan to fix Gotham, this step destabilized all major crime families and for the rest of the movie organized crime is not really a problem.  Finally throughout the movie it shows him killing his men which are lowlife criminals which is doing service to Gotham without the viewer realizing it. 


The major problem he eliminates is the vigilante problem.  Batman is the supposedly the hero in the movie but he is actually one of the biggest problems.  Bruce Wayne or Batman is a problem because he has mastered every form of martial arts and is one of the smartest people in the world.  This means he has the ability to kill practically anyone.  Obviously that is not a good thing because the citizens live in fear of the Batman just as much as the criminals do.  This means if Batman makes a mistake an innocent person could be in critical condition or dead.  On the other hand the Joker is a master strategist but, he doesn’t have anywhere the level of fighting skill of Batman.  This means if Batman were to turn crazy, he could wipe out gotham but, the Joker is different, he is not insane but he is actually super sane.  In other words the Joker poses less of a threat to Gotham than the Batman.  On top of this Batman is inspiring other vigilantes to take the law into their own hands and play judge, jury and executioner.  Meanwhile the Joker is seemingly evil he is not inspiring anyone but behind the scenes (so to speak) he is fixing Gotham.   One may argue that this is unintentional and that his plan was to exterminate Batman but one quote proves otherwise when he says, “ I don't, I don't want to kill you! What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, no, NO! No. You... you... complete me.”(The Dark Knight).  This is proving the fact that he wants to get rid of Batman without killing him which he does do eventually. This is shown in Between the Dark Knight and the Dark Knight Rises there are eight years of peace in gotham and guess who isn’t around in those eight years, it’s Batman’s leave of absence that allows those eight peaceful years.


Some people may try to argue that when he was going to blow up a boat of innocent people and the boat of criminals that this proves he is evil, however this is invalid.  Joker may be a master strategist but he did not account for the fact that Gotham would stand together and die together.  His initial plan was for the boat of innocents to pull the trigger and kill all the criminals.  This was not the case and as soon as it turns midnight he does not follow through on blowing up both boats showing that he is not the villain but rather the hero.  Another argument would be when he kills Rachel but again this is invalid.  Joker even gives Batman where they are in saying “Don't worry, I'm gonna tell you where they are. Both of them. And that's the point. You'll have to choose. He's at 250 52ND Street and she's on Avenue X, at Cicero.” He was assuming that Batman is would save Rachel instead of Harvey, however Batman trusts the police to save Rachel and he takes on the task of Harvey.  Again it may seem evil to kill the “White Knight of Gotham”, but as mentioned earlier, he wanted to rid Gotham of their false idol in Dent.  On top of that Joker had no control over when the bomb went off because he was in custody when the incident occurred. 


The final major issue that our new protagonist encounters is corrupt officials.  Although it is shown that he is killing corrupt officials, he does not kill all of them.  One major one in  particular is Lou.  He is basically the poster child for corrupt officials/businessmen.  Instead of killing him he ties him up and puts a sign on him that says “Deliver to Jim Gordon.”  This may appear to be mockery but it is shown throughout the movie that Gordon is the only officer on the GCPD that he trusts and finds morally correct.  An example of this is when Joker is in his cell and Gordon gets a promotion he claps in a seemingly sarcastic manner.  However, since Joker’s respect for Gordon is consistent throughout the movie he is probably a fan of the man.  In addition to that he exposes the so called white knight, Harvey Dent, for what he really is, unstable.  He says to harvey “Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It's fair!”(The Dark Knight).  Although this may be stated in a rather radical way of looking at things he is right.  He wants to unleash a wave of chaos because after the hurricane comes the rainbow, things in Gotham may be bad for a while but eventually it will flourish.  In other words he is willing to destabilize Gotham for a little so it will stabilize permanently.  In terms of Harvey Dent, he is just a pawn to the Joker, someone that he uses to get to his main goal, to save Gotham from it’s horrible state.  Also in ridding the city of Harvey Dent he got rid of a false idol who was a beacon of hope but really was just as corrupt as anyone even if his corruption benefited the city of Gotham.


With these examples presented it is clear that Christopher Nolan, either intentionally or unintentionally, made the Joker the hero.  The reasons being that he eliminated organized crime, he solved the vigilante problem and finally got rid of corrupt officials.  He killed Gambol, he imprisoned Lou and he sent the Batman into hiding and for eight years.  Within those eight years Gotham was peaceful thanks to The Joker. 






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