Even if Gotham’s developers might not have noticed until now, they have unleashed one of the most fascinating, accurate and logical mysteries within the DC Universe: the Joker’s real origin story. What is interesting is that they might not have even realized what a massive story they unleashed, a story so vast, that extents over a variety of universes, that is very complex and that, surprisingly, everybody knows. Bear with us, because this is going to be one hell of a ride.
Everything started with the primordial forces of the universe: good and evil, light and darkness, hope and despair. Take your pick, we have enough words to play with. Good and evil have been fighting each other ever since the beginning of time. Now associate this with how we see the universe: eternal darkness, which is evil, and the bright stars, which represent the good.
Now let’s simplify things and assume that Gotham is the universe: a dark place, corrupted by evil, but in which bright stars like Jim Gordon, Alfred or Bruce always fight back the darkness. Their war is eternal, it never ends, but they still battle each other, just like matter and anti-matter.
It would be safe to assume now that the Joker, or Jerome, is part of the darkness, if not the darkness itself. Even in death, it spreads, bringing misery and clouding the stars that try to fight it back, corrupting everything in its path. In death, Jerome passed the Joker to another generation that embraced evil and chaos. There is no one Joker, there is a legion of them.
Now let’s pause the universe metaphor and refer to two very distinct Batman universes: Cristopher Nola’s Dark Knight and the Arkham City game. There are two concepts that we want to play with here: “everybody can be Batman” and “the duality of man”.
We know for sure, about the Batman universe, that the Joker is Batman’s complete opposite, but if “anybody can be Batman”, anybody can be the Joker right? This is the only thing that cannot be opposite and that properly reflects the duality of man: choice. Batman has chosen to fight for the greater good, while the Joker has decided to fight for evil, thus the duality of man.
Now back to the Universe metaphor: not only does this explain the Joker’s real origin story, it also encompasses the duality of man and the power of choice. With Jerome’s death, the Joker infected Gotham and the reason why the Joker’s origin story is a mystery is so complicated is because it is not the story of one man, it is the story of all the people infected with evil in Gotham, a great number of experiences that will shape the monster that Bruce will have to face in the future.
Now thrown back into the turmoil of good and evil, we can reflect upon the power of choice. Both Bruce and the Joker are in Gotham, which has been corrupted by Jerome, but Bruce chooses good despite being surrounded by evil and he fights it, just like any star fights the darkness that engulfs it. This is the Joker’s origin story. This is his role in the Universe. This is Gotham’s legacy.
Photo Credits deviantart.net