The beauty of great film is that it when they end, they often leave room for debate as to what the audience has just witnessed. Seven years after its release, audiences continue to find new and intriguing ways to interpret the events in Christopher Nolan’s Batman epic The Dark Knight.

According to a fan theory posited by Redditor Generalzee, Heath Ledger's Joker is actually the protagonist of the events that transpire in The Dark Knight. While he’s certainly unhinged, and leaves a trail of carnage in his wake, he does more to actually clean up the streets of Gotham City than Batman or Harvey Dent ever could. The theory reads:
Entire sections of the city were closed off due to madness, organized crime ran rampant, and the majority of important city officials were wildly corrupt. The city even tolerated a renegade vigilante who ran around wearing a rubber suit (Okay, special armor and carbon fiber, but they don’t know that).

Along comes the Joker and by the end of a very short time, almost all organized crime was eliminated, many corrupt officials were imprisoned or dead, and the city’s Vigilante even went into hiding for 8 years. This was all part of Joker’s masterfully executed plan.


It’s an interesting theory that also puts a completely new spin on the modern classic. Based on this notion, while Batman wants to end crime by charging headfirst against it, Joker seems to believe that a solution can only come from within the criminal underworld. He pits the criminals and the corrupt against each other, essentially serving to light fuses that slowly eliminate all of Gotham’s troublemakers. In a way, Joker actually does accomplish what Batman initially sets out to do; he galvanizes the people to step up and do something, only he accomplishes it by instilling fear rather than inspiring hope. He shows the people of Gotham that even supposedly morally corrupt prisoners can have a shed of decency in them, effectively bringing the city’s citizens together.

From here we can draw some sharp comparisons to the classic Batman story Under the Hood, in which Jason Todd (former Robin) adopts the persona of the Red Hood to eliminate crime by controlling it, rather than fighting it. Considering the theories that Jared Leto’s Joker may in fact be a former Robin, it remains entirely possible that Suicide Squad entails a similarly foresighted version of the Clown Prince of Crime.

Fan theories are obviously just that – theories. Generalzee has some interesting insight into the film, and it can completely alter the way you view the now classic scenes between Batman and The Joker if you buy into it. We will likely never get a definitive answer about what really motivated Joker in The Dark Knight, but that only makes the film endlessly more watchable.

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