Todd Phillips’ “Joker” released last year and finally gave away the much-awaited origin story of the clown Prince of crime. Christopher Nolan had always kept a tight lip on the history of Joker’s character. There were reports that Jeremy from ‘Gotham’ evolves into the maniac killer that joker is, but those were later dismissed by the makers of the show.
One theory, however, was so well received before the actual origin story was brought to light is that Joker was a war veteran from Iraq who suffered from PTSD. As his trauma enveloped his mind, his actions grew out of control and that is what forced him to go on a rampage letting hell loose on the streets of Gotham. Does this sound like a logical explanation? Let us look at the indications that led fans to believe that the Dark knight’s nemesis was ex-military.
Most part of the theory is attributed to his knowledge of explosives, firearms, and combat. Furthermore, it also seems like a very likely explanation for his scars.
If we dig deeper, his speech to Harvey Dent has subtle cues that implicate the system for being unjust towards soldiers. The text goes- “If tomorrow I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot or a truckload of soldiers will be blowing up, nobody panics because it’s all part of the plan. But when I say that one little old mayor will die… well, then everyone loses their minds.”
The subtext clearly indicates he feels a soldier’s life is undervalued and he feels it even closely because he has experienced it himself. He is very explicit in expressing his aversion towards the normalization of battle casualties and in fact, is causing him to resist by creating chaos in society.
In that story, his target was specifically the District Attorney Harvey Dent and he had made his intentions about dragging the DA to become a pawn into his game of tipping the scales of justice in society. But if analyzed deeply, he is only trying to send a message to the states worldwide.
Patton Oswalt backed his theory in one of his tweets and fuelled it even further by highlighting Joker’s manipulative abilities during police interrogation. He speculated it as a sign of professional military intelligence training. In fact, the clown prince is hypothesized of having planned a bigger strike on Gotham city to bring its people face to face with its vices. The validity of this evidence is still arguable given its all based on circumstances.
This was all just speculation, but Joker as a symbol did find a connection to all the elements of the theory. In fact, what is not often talked about is the fact that Nolan presented the third script of the trilogy along the same lines. Bane staging a massive attack on the institutions of Gotham was also a sign of the resistance against the abusive nature of the system and its organizations. The film referred to pop culture figures as a metaphor for lording power.
The PTSD theory may not have been the real cause of Joker coming into action but had only strengthened the mythology of the character. It fit well into the arcs of the Dark Knight Trilogy and gave meaning to the actions of Dark Knight’s iconic villain. Do let us know your thoughts on this.