An Unstoppable Force Meets An Immovable Object
“Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it. You know, I just…do, things.
Nolan provided us with the basis for how Bruce Wayne became the Caped Crusader by grounding him in such a strong reality that we were led hand in hand to the promised land. Comic book fans everywhere had an origin story that held together strongly on film because we believed in the motivations of the character. We watched as Ra’s Al Ghul was truly revealed, and the League of Shadows failed at bringing burning Gotham City to the ground. We had a cinematic experience that brought The Dark Knight to a newer level of dark maturity. Ra’s failed in burning Gotham to the ground, and we were left with a taste of the anarchy to come.
The Dark Knight exploded onto the screen as we returned theatres finding a criminal unlike any before, The Joker. We watched as opening minutes of the film brought double cross, after double cross, and all led back to The Joker as the last one standing. He was an unstoppable force to be reckoned with, a man with no code, other than to create anarchy in a world that desperately order.
“Criminals in this town used to believe in things. Honor. Respect. Look at you! What do you believe in, huh? WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN?
“I believe whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you…stranger.”
We were captivated. Joker was robbing the mobsters of the city blind. Why? Simply because he could.
No longer were we watching a man who wanted to burn a city to rebuild, or rid the world of corruption. Instead, Batman was on a crash course to collide with a force that simply wanted to show the true nature of humanity. He wasn’t desperate, he wasn’t motivated by greed, and Batman couldn’t understand him. How can Batman face something he doesn’t understand?
We watched as Bruce struggled to figure out The Joker’s plan, all the while beginning the crusade to combat the political corruption of the city, full force. His search to find a savior for Gotham, an incorruptible politician that could help bring Gotham to salvation, a way to remove the need for Batman entirely. His hopes were ignited in a powerful district attorney, Harvey Dent.
“Who appointed the Batman?”
“We did. All of us who stood by and let scum take control of our city.”
“When their enemies were at the gates the Romans would suspend democracy and appoint one man to protect the city. It wasn’t considered an honor, it was a public service.”
“Harvey, the last man that they appointed to protect the republic was named Caesar…and he never gave up his power.”
“Okay, fine. You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Harvey Dent was a beacon of hope for a city shrouded in darkness. With the aid of Batman, they brought down hundreds of the city’s criminals. With light finally breaking through, and an end in sight, The Joker begins to test the limits of Batman. He kills the masked vigilantes fighting for justice dressed as The Bat, he murders government officials by paying Gordon’s corrupted officers, he attempts to assassinate the mayor beginning to spark chaos in Gotham.
Finally, after The Joker is brought down with a Gordon faked death, the chaos seems over. Until, The Joker reveals the true extent of Gotham’s corruption and places the two star-crossed lovers, Dent and Rachel Dawes, in death traps, all for the enjoyment of putting a dent in their perfect little plans to save the city. Batman interrogates him as we uncovered the true nature of the madman.
“To them, you’re just a freak, like me. They need you right now, but when they don’t, they’ll cast you out, like a leper. You see, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these eh…these civilized people, they’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.”
The Joker’s sole purpose is chaos. To prove that morals and values are a façade. Humanity at its most basic nature is uncivilized, and the lives we lead are a bad joke. The Joker offered a punchline for Batman by making him choose which life to save. Using the corruption that Gordon refused to acknowledge, The Joker strapped Dent and Dawes forcing him to make a choice. Proof that Batman can’t save everyone.
“You have nothing, nothing to threaten me with. Nothing to do with all your strength. Don’t worry I’m going to tell you where they are. Both of them, and that’s the point, you’ll have to choose.”
With this, The Joker killed Rachel…and Dent, well we all know how that turned out. After Bruce spent so much time attempting to understand the criminal mind, he was rendered helpless. His first-hand experience with the desperation, the desperation of those that turn to crime in order to survive, the motivations, and his theatricality were all rendered useless tools to protect the city. Mourning the loss of a love he hoped to return to he was left wondering what The Joker wanted.
“Criminals aren’t complicated, Alfred. Just have to figure out what he’s after.”
“With respect Master Wayne, perhaps this is a man that you don’t fully understand, either. A long time ago, I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So, we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never met anybody who traded with him. One day, I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.”
“So why steal them?”
“Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
And we did, or at least we continued watch as Bruce’s world began to burn. Harvey Dent, the white night of Gotham, his salvation from Batman, was burned and left mourning his bride. The streets of Gotham were set into chaos again as Coleman Reese prepared to reveal the identity of Batman…but oh, The Joker couldn’t let that happen. Where would the fun be in that? The Joker threatened to blow up a hospital if Reese was not dead in 60 minutes, and the city fell into anarchy. All the while Joker planted another simple idea into Harvey’s mind.
“I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are. It’s the schemers that put you where you are. You were a schemer, you had plans, and look where that got you. I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself. 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.”
Now, Harvey was no more. His mind wrapped inside the flip of coin. Gotham’s white knight was set on course of destruction that would destroy all hope for the city, and Bruce.
The Joker continued his reign of terror, by claiming a stake on the city come nightfall. Citizens evacuated as we watched a social experiment in the making. Everything the Joker hoped to prove rested in the idea that a boat of innocent people would blow up a boat of convicted felons. Yet, his thesis was wrong. In desperation, Gotham proved that there was still hope for the city, and decent people ready for salvation. Batman brought The Joker to justice.
“Oh, you. You just couldn’t let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren’t you? Huh? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”
“This city just showed you that it’s full of people ready to believe in good.”
“Until their spirit breaks completely. Until they get a good look at the real Harvey Dent and all the heroic things he’s done. You didn’t think I’d risk losing the battle for Gotham’s soul in a fistfight with you? No. You need an ace in the hole. Mine’s Harvey.”
“What did you do?”
“I took Gotham’s white knight and I brought him down to our level. It wasn’t hard. You see, madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little push!”
Two-Face kidnaps Gordon’s family, seeking out justice for the love that was taken from him. A push of insanity that Joker gently placed upon his back all to helped prove that chaos is the natural order of the world. With Gordon pleading to save his family, Batman arrives in time to save Gordon but Harvey is already gone. A game of deception, corruption, and loss ended in Gotham losing the one hope it had left at salvation. Proof, that no man is incorruptible, and faith would be gone forever.
“You thought we could be decent men, in an indecent time! But you were wrong. The world is cruel, and the only morality in a cruel world is chance.”
Two-Face flips the coins deciding the fate of Batman, ending in a shot to the chest. He flips for himself, and chance smiles upon him. As he flips the coin for the Gordon Jr. Batman tackles Two-Face, plunging to his death. The death of their white knight. Yet, Batman refused to let the hope die, and chose to devote himself to the ideal of justice by placing the burden of Two-Face’s murders on his shoulders. He did what needed to be done to save the city from corruption, from desperation, and provide an icon for Gotham to look to. Batman continued to devote himself to the idea that there is always hope for humanity, and Gotham could still be saved.
“You’ll hunt me. You’ll condemn me. Set the dogs on me. Because that’s what needs to happen. Because sometimes the truth isn’t good enough. Sometimes, people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.
Batman vanished, gone, all to devote himself to saving Gotham. A city worth salvation.
“Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector…a dark knight.”
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