If you’re a regular reader of comic books, then you’ll know that the Joker is one of the most notorious villains in the whole of comic book history. Made famous by the late comedian and improv actor, Bill Blake, the Joker’s distinctive personality and twisted sense of humor have made him one of the most recognizable figures in comics. It didn’t take long for the Joker to make his presence felt in popular culture either, as he was credited with creating the popular laugh-track in the 1940s.

Along with his memorable laugh, the Joker is well-known for his outrageous laugh lines and bizarre stunts. But, what makes the Joker different from other comic book bad guys is his complete disregard for authority and a desire to see the world as he finds it. Indeed, the Joker’s “crime syndrome” is what makes him such a captivating villain and has made him one of the most popular characters in comics. What is called “the Joker syndrome” is intended to be a lifelong condition that the villains suffer from. This condition is characterized by a complete disregard for social norms and a delight in shocking and manipulating others. One of the most notable recent portrayals of the Joker was in the Batman movie, which featured a remarkably youthful looking Robert Pattinson in the title role.

While we often portray villains as being older, more experienced, and more cunning than the heroes, comic book villains can be just as (if not more) compelling as the heroes they fight against. In fact, most comic book villains have some sort of tragic backstory that makes them more relatable than the typical superhero. It’s not uncommon for villains to be in some way affected by the hero’s crusade against them and turn against society in a attempt to even the score.

For example, Lex Luthor in Batman Begins (2005) stated that “children need to learn that violence is wrong” and went on to say, “but then, once they’re grown up, they need to realize that the world is a much crueler place than ‘Mr. Peanut Butter’ would have them believe.” The Joker is arguably the most recognizable villain in comics (and arguably the most interesting as well), which makes him the perfect person to compare and contrast with Batman.

Since the Batman movie was such a huge success, it’s no surprise that Warner Bros. took the opportunity to continue the Joker’s story in 2014’s The Batman vs. Robin (formerly known as The Robin Part Two). This movie picks up where the previous one left off. Not only does it continue the story, but it also introduces a brand-new Robin ( Ben Affleck). While the first Batman movie relied heavily on special effects and comic book violence, The Batman vs. Robin is more character-driven, with plenty of dramatic plot twists.

The Joker’s Personality & Humor

One of the most interesting things about the Joker is that he seems to change with the times. In the 1940s, the Joker was a master of deception and manipulation, often manipulating women to achieve his goals. He often dressed menacingly in full costume, which made him difficult to read (and thus made him easier to manipulate). But, since the 1960s, the Joker has been depicted as a pathetic and delusional wannabe rock star, obsessed with Jazz music and femininity.

This latter depiction shows a subtle evolution in the way the Joker is perceived. While it may be difficult to read motivations and intentions from the Joker’s actions, it’s not difficult to pick up on his strange sense of humor and personality. The Joker is undoubtedly a unique character in comics, and it’s no surprise that he continues to be popular today.

The Difference Between The Joker & Batman

One of the important things to consider about the Joker is that he is not Batman. The Joker and Batman are frequently conflated, which can lead to some serious mix-ups. Luckily, the Joker and Batman share very few defining characteristics, which will make it easier for fans of one to accept the other.

The most obvious and lasting difference is that the Joker is a villain while Batman is a hero. Villains are generally seen as being more tricky, dishonest, and evil than heroes. But, the Joker’s tricky-ness and dishonesty are qualities that he shares with many great comic book heroes, such as Superman and Ironman. Like many traditional villains (i.e., not comic book ones), the Joker’s core purpose is to get his way at all costs.

Another important difference between the Joker and Batman is that the Joker is a complete villain, while Batman is a complex character with many layered personalities. Though he is certainly deceitful and manipulative, Bruce Wayne is also shown to be a decent individual who is just as much of a victim as anyone else in his story. As the Batman movie demonstrates, though the Joker is a villain, he is not necessarily evil. What makes the Joker different from other comic book villains is that he has no registers or licenses (at least not yet) and desires only to see the world as he finds it. While the Joker creates chaos and havoc wherever he goes, causing a variety of unpleasantries and accidents along the way, this is ultimately just his way of living life. So, though he may be a criminal mastermind at heart, the Joker is ultimately just a sick and twisted individual who deserves no regard or belief in his own right to exist.

An Opportunity To Compare & Contrast

One of the interesting things about the Joker is that he provides an opportunity to compare and contrast two distinctly different concepts of evil. Simply put, the Joker is a symbol of tricky and dishonest evil that is perpetuated through deception. But, on the other hand, the anti-villain “Riddler ” (i.e., Richard Chiarellio) is a symbol of the anti-hero comic book villain, whose main purpose is to play mindgames with the heroes he fights against. While both the Joker and the Riddler are psychopaths who prey on the weaknesses of those around them, the Riddler is more about tricks and deception and less about actual violence.

In the end, these two opposites present opportunities for us to reflect on the nature of evil. As an opponent of the Joker, the Riddler provides us with a chance to see that violence and psychopathy do not necessarily go together. After all, the Joker has been around for so long that he seems to have perpetuated his own tricky and deceptive nature, while the Riddler is a character who is defined by his psychological warfare tactics. So, by comparison, it’s not hard to believe that the Joker could one day be the good guy.