Batman and The Joker


Here’s an age long question that has plagued comic book readers for decades. Why doesn’t Batman kill The Joker? The answer to this is not a simple one, and has kept us buying Batman comics for a long time now. Not to mention has been the topic of much heated debates in relation to criminal justice. Batman has not only had ample opportunity to end the Jokers reign of terror upon the citizens of Gotham but to as well put a stop to him forever. Why doesn’t he?

To understand the multilayered answer; lets first try to better understand the character of The Joker: Jack Napier. Once a petty street thug and bank robber under the disguise and alias of the red hood, Jack Napier has a run in with The Batman/Bruce Wayne. In an attempt to stop Mr. Napier from a getaway after a bank robbery Jack falls into a pool full of a solution known as venom which poisons his mind creating The Joker.

Batmans number 1 rule: do not kill. It is what took his family away from him and put him on the road to justice. The Joker is a serial killer, he hurts people due to the fact he is mentally unbalanced. It is thought that Batman also suffers from a mental disease, brought on by the murder of his parents at 8 years old. Like every story there are two sides, such as a coin or a ying to a yang. That being said I don’t believe these characters are co-dependent on one another, Batman does not need The Joker. The Joker however relies on Batman, he refuses to kill him simply because of the fact that he wants to get caught. As we see in most serial killers or murderers behaviours there is something inside of them that wants to be punished for there crimes. They want to be caught. The Joker is a classic example of this, he leaves clues and in most cases a calling card. He needs to feel accomplished at his actions because deep down he wants to be stopped. To him it is a game, hence the wild card; the joker.

Another theory is derived from the name Jack Napier. Jack as in Jack of all trades. Which means The Joker could literally be anybody. Perhaps a new person who adopts the persona each night. Therefore Batman killing them would be unjustified, and in fact murder. In The Killing Joke; Jack dresses another patient in his makeup and attire to fool Batman into thinking he is sitting across from him in Arkham Asylum, by the time Batman realizes he’s been duped The Joker has already escaped.

All this being said there are many variations on the creation story of The Joker. The idea is to reflect the criminal mind. Ultimately there is no definite answer to why Jack commits these crimes unto humanity, the only answer to them is Batman. I’m not saying Batman is responsible for Jacks actions however he is the answer to the equation. Joker + Crime = Batman.

Obviously this is a man of intelligence if he can match wits with the greatest detective of all time. The Joker isn’t stupid by any means, he uses his intelligence to mainly manipulate others into either folding and committing a crime themselves or simply becoming so fearful they give up. For example one could compare Charles Manson to Jack/The Joker in the sense that he manipulated young impressionable minds into committing henuse acts against innocent civilians. Manson was still completely guilty of the crimes that transpired due to “mens rea;” Latin for “guilty mind.” He is currently paying the penalty/ life imprisonment for those murders in Corcoran State Prison, Corcoran California.

Arkham Asylum is a much debated result to confining and treating for the rehabilitation of Jack/The Joker. He winds up there time and time again, simply due to the fact he is not criminally responsible for his actions because he is legally considered insane. He manages to break out with schemes, or even by seducing some of the staff at Arkham Asylum. The point is they are trying to recondition him for civilized society, and he refuses to cooperate. He simply does not want help, or is beyond it.

The title “Lord of the Flies” is a translation of the Greek Beelzebub, which was a name for the devil. Golding shows that we need no external devil to bring about evil but that we have found the devil, and, in the words of Pogo, “he is us.”

In conclusion, Batman and The Joker are representatives of the age long battle between good and evil. Vice versus virtue. They are ying and yang, as to one another. I believe Batman does not kill The Joker so that he prolongs his suffering, and that death would be a gift to a pyscotic sociopath who ultimately is to cowardice to take his own life. As most serial killers they need to see another person suffer and die to put them at peace with their own mortality. 

-Johnny Ryan-