Saturday, August 9, 2008

Can the Joker be Right?

I have a confession to make. I was a comic book nerd. And it lasted into high school. So I kind of have a soft spot for movies made about the superheroes I used to read about. So last night I took Edna to see The Dark Knight (in my defense I didn't have to drag her). It was dark and violent, and I would be very selective about who I would recommend see this movie (although it was gloriously free of sensuality) but there is a thought provoking side to movie that I want to explore a little.

(For an amazing discussion on the Joker and death go see (

The scene I want to discuss (if you haven't seen the movie then you may want to stop reading now) is the point in the movie where the leaders of Gotham are evacuating people on ferries because the joker has threatened the bridges. So there are two ferries with people on them in the middle of the river. One ferry has normal citizens on it, the other has prison inmates. The Joker reveals that both boats are loaded with explosives. The trick is that he has placed the detonator for each boats bomb on the other boat. And if they haven't pushed a button by Midnight he is going to blow up both ferries.

The Joker is banking on people's selfishness and sinfulness (he wouldn't use that word) to rule the day. He is expecting a mad dash to the detonator because people will do anything to save their own lives. But Batman is trusting in the goodness of the people to not push the button and give him time to stop the Joker.

The Joker is trusting in human sinfulness, our inheritance from Adam to rule the day. Batman is trusting in the Image of God in us (once again no one involved in this movie would use these terms). So the question I was faced with as I watched this scene was who was going to win out and who usually wins out here in the real world. Well in the movie no one pushes the button and Batman stops the Joker. The Image of God has won the day. But what about out here. I don't know about you but I don't much selflessness. I see a lot of me-centered activity. So if I were a betting man (which I'm not) I would have placed my money on the Joker to win this argument (I understand that for cinematic reasons why this went the other way - Batman is making a difference in the hearts of Gotham's citizens) I expect people to act in ways that are self-serving and destructive. But there is a glimmer of the Image of God remaining in us and this is why there are occasional selfless acts.

So why then is the Jokers worldview wrong. Because there is so much more to the story. The Cross. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ God is redeeming and transforming selfish and sinful people who come to Him in repentance and faith. A long look into the human heart could make us as cold, cruel, and crazy as the Joker, but the human heart does not rule the day and it is not the end of the story. The sovereign merciful heart of God will rule the day, this is where our hope comes in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Joker is right about other things "I'm not a monster..."
"When the chips are down..."
and when he says "I believe whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you stranger" he means not as a rarity or a freak, but in an existencial sense.
He rejects all human constructions because he's been on the bad side of things too hard perhaps, he cannot believe in the world as we know it, it must be destroyed because everything is a lie.
If you read "The killing joke" there's a lot of it.
This Joker clearly is not crazy.