The next one is one most people will recognize: The Joker.
The Joker is a villain that took some time to grow on me. I never thought of him as a criminal mastermind until I got a little bit older. I can see now that he is truly one of the greatest villains around.
I never collected comic books as a kid. My father was more interested in model trains and computers than comic books and baseball cards. Most of my experiences with heroes and villains came from television shows and movies.
The first Joker I have any recollection of was the one voiced by Mark Hamill on Batman: The Animated Series. This incarnation of the joker was acted incredibly well. The trouble comes from the fact that it was a daytime cartoon for children. All the crimes that The Joker committed were harmless. They were covered in a film of clown jokes and everything always seemed to go wrong for him in the end. He was frequently victim to his own traps and jokes.
This kind of made him feel like he was more jester than villain. He was just there for comic relief. He wasn’t to be taken seriously as a dangerous villain for Batman to deal with.
As I have gotten older, I have been exposed to many different versions of The Joker. The most familiar to people that I know is the incredible version in The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger portrayed an amazing version and I think it would have fallen flat with anyone else. This version really brings the core of The Joker into sharp contrast. He is truly insane.
The Joker has no special powers. He is very intelligent, but he isn’t superpowered. His real advantage is his insanity. It makes him unpredictable, and it removes most of the social constraints that the rest of us possess.
What all this creates is a man who is willing to do anything that suits his purposes. Anything that crosses his mind is in play. He is also actually capable of pulling most of it off. He is a true wild card.
This makes him so incredibly frightening because he is the antithesis of what we work every day to build. People work to build predictability and structure. We rail against our very nature to create a safe and predictable environment to live in. The Joker threatens all of that with his very existence.
We’re also drawn to this. He does things with no moral compass. There are a lot of us who wonder what that would be like. To have true freedom to do whatever you want. It’s unknown, unexpected and scary.
Some men just want to watch the world burn.