The Joker has become a popular character more than ever due to the massive success of the Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie. Money is good, but not nearly as fun to talk about as fan theories. Most of these fans probably aren’t filmmakers in training, but that hasn’t stopped them from making up some wild and sometimes very dark theories about the films they watch. Watching the recent Joker movie reminds me of a particular fan theory that has been an interesting topic of discussion for while. It goes back to the days of The Dark Knight, when the late Heath Ledger portrayed the psychotic clown, and not only did his performance lead to an insane amount of praise, it also prompted several fans to concoct a very interesting fan theory that would likely fit the bill. Let’s talk about this fan theory and why it makes sense.
Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker thrived because of the flawless way he convinced us of the the character’s purposeless psychotic nature. While Ledger’s Joker acted mostly out of the insane need to cause chaos, the theory suggest that there is actually a deeper motivation to this Joker’s madness. Almost all of the action scenes in the Dark Knight show a Joker that is oddly familiar with military-grade weapons, including all types of guns and even rocket launchers. Even in the opening scene, he used some kind of weaponized gas to kill the bank manager, a weapon that would be very hard for the average criminal to use effectively. On top of that, he ordered his men to use some kind of grapple cannons to cause the helicopter to crash, another type of weapon that a common crook wouldn’t know how to use. With his familiarity with these kind of weapons, it’s not very hard to believe that Ledger’s Joker could have been a war veteran.
His skills with weapons is only the beginning for the validity behind this theory. He was shown to be a master strategist, planning to be caught by the police with his escape plan already in his head. He robbed a bank with a small group of criminals and tricked them all into killing each other, giving him the chance to escape with the money on his own. He even found a way to sneak explosives into a hospital and two large boats, successfully destroying the former. He was always one step ahead of the law and even Batman, manipulating them to the point where they were playing right into his hands. Let’s also remind ourselves of his deadly fighting skills, such as killing a man with ease by making a pencil disappear. Would a former soldier have these type of skills? It’s highly probable.
So why would a veteran do these terrible things? Well, based on this Joker’s behavior, it’s very believable that he could have been suffering from a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. His psychotic demeanor may not be enough to corroborate this theory, but if we go back to the scene in the hospital where he talks to a damaged Harvey Dent, there’s enough to make a case. Joker explains to Harvey how a truck filled with soldiers can be blown up and no one will bat an eye, but the death of one mayor causes people to lose their minds. These words can possibly be translated as a burning hatred for the government and also for the ignorance of the common people. Why mention a truck filled with soldiers? Why mention one little mayor? The sole purpose of his crimes was to cause pure anarchy and prove how law and order was a big fat joke, and this short speech only shows is hatred for the government to the extreme.
Analyzing these scenes made me think about how this fan theory can be true, and now the possibility of Ledger’s Joker being a mentally unbalanced war veteran makes him even more interesting. While I personally prefer The Joker to be a mystery, a shady backstory would suit him well. It would also paint him as a more sympathetic character, a rare iteration for him.