Not Opposites – Batman and the Joker

It seems obvious that a hero needs his greatest enemy to be his opposite equal. Someone who can match the hero in every way, but their goals, methods, and even personalities are as close to opposite as possible. But, this is not the case with Batman and the Joker. Yes, it has been said that these two are actually quite similar, but who is more like who? Is Batman more like Joker, or is Joker more like Batman?

Batman is brooding. He wears only black and gray. He operates in secret, using stealth and darkness. He’s ultra-serious at all times. He achieves his goals through intelligence and force. We know his back story.

Joker is a clown. He wears bright colors. He is boisterous and makes his actions (and even intentions) known to all. He’s never serious. He achieves his goals through intelligence and brutality. We don’t know his back story.

Complete opposites, right?


They are only opposites in appearance only. Both operate in secret. We never know what the Joker’s planning, nor how he even makes his plans. Both are utterly determined to achieve their goals. Both are highly intelligent. And since we don’t know Joker’s back story, that makes him quite mysterious and enigmatic, even if he’s always loud and wears bright clothes. So, these two are actually similar in almost every way. But, there’s one more way they’re the same that I haven’t mentioned yet.

They both cause destruction and death.

In every incarnation of Batman, no matter how the story’s told, Batman is always the first ‘freak’ on the scene. There is never any Scarecrow or Mr. Freeze or Poison Ivy or Clayface or even Joker until AFTER Batman appears in Gotham. What I’m saying is: Batman creates the very chaos he’s hellbent on eliminating. The rise of power only creates challenge, not order.

In almost every incarnation of Joker’s stories, he seems to be someone who was nothing and a nobody until the appearance of Batman. We hear him say in The Dark Knight that Batman ‘completes’ him. If it weren’t for Batman’s intelligence, utter determination, and especially the bat costume, Joker would have permanently remained an obscure figure in society doing nothing of any significance.

The harder Batman fights crime, the harder his enemies push back against him. Batman doesn’t bring peace, he brings chaos. Thus, what I’m saying here is that Batman and Joker aren’t opposites, they’re two halves of the same person. Batman is a very unique kind of criminal ….. just like Joker.


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