UT affiliates analyze evolution, appeal of ‘The Clown Prince of Crime’

Noah Levine

Two Jokers in a deck of cards? Try six. 

The Joker, arguably Batman’s most iconic foe, has graced everything from comics to the world of film and television. Over the last 50 years, the Joker has been portrayed in various ways, ranging from a terrifying anarchist to a devilish set of twin brothers. 

More recently, the television series “Gotham” offers yet another take on the iconic character’s origin story by thrusting main character Jeremiah Valeska into the infamous vat of chemicals. As one of the most unique and commonly reinterpreted characters in DC cinema and television, the Joker knows no bounds. 

The unpredictability of the Joker character is one of his most notable traits. Radio-television-film freshman Evan Gruters said the Joker’s popularity is attributed to the unpredictability of his next move. 

“He’s an agent of chaos,” Gruters said. “He’s just a wild card. You never really know what he’s going to do, but you know that someone will probably be hurt and he’ll be laughing about that.”

Aside from his chaotic agenda, the Joker is also known for his alluring charisma. Mechanical engineering freshman Connor Crowley said the Joker’s chaotic personality is a compelling factor of his popularity. 

“Chaos is enjoyable to watch,” Crowley said. “Somebody who is the embodiment of chaos is therefore entertaining. There’s a charisma about him that isn’t really comparable to any other character, which makes him uniquely enjoyable and engaging.” 

The Joker is an essential element of Batman’s story. Chantaelle Moffett, a radio-television-film graduate student, said that the dynamic between Batman and the Joker is crucial to the appeal of the character. 

“The Joker has existed as long as Batman has,” Moffett said. “The two were designed to be two sides of the same coin. You have Batman, who is order and structure, and then you have the Joker, who is the complete opposite: the agent of ultimate chaos.”

One of the most unique characteristics of the character is his lack of an overall goal. Moffett said that the Joker’s criminal activities are often done for personal amusement. 

“The Joker is unlike a lot of villains that people are used to,” Moffett said. “He doesn’t seem to have any grander motivations except that he finds it funny. People are interested in this lack of causality. He isn’t trying to get Batman to catch him or to make a point.”

With a new Joker movie on the way starring Joaquin Phoenix, along with Gotham’s current interpretation of the character in its final season on Fox, the legacy and fascination with the character in cinema and television are for the long run.

“His villainous trait is that he is absolutely crazy and does not care,” Crowley said. “And crazy can be interpreted in many different ways, which gives people so much leeway because there’s not one correct way to portray crazy.”