A psychiatrist explains why Heath Ledger’s Joker from the 2008 Christopher Nolan movie The Dark Knight doesn’t belong at Arkham Asylum.
Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight gets psychoanalyzed in an intriguing new video. The Joker is one of the most popular Batman villains and has appeared in a host of mediums and franchises over the years. Heath Ledger’s rendition of the character in 2008’s The Dark Knight remains one of the most well-received due to the actor’s twisted and terrifying charisma. While the Joker’s goals vary depending on the story he is being utilized in, the character has often been classified as an insane person suffering from mental issues, leading to his frequent stays at Arkham Asylum in several Batman properties.
In a new video by GQ, psychiatrist Dr. Eric Bender psycho-analyzes several well-known Batman villains that have populated the halls of Arkham Asylum, including Ledger’s Joker.
In a surprising twist, Dr. Bender expresses doubt that Joker legitimately belongs at Arkham after the events of The Dark Knight due to his mental clarity and awareness of his actions. Though the psychiatrist makes it clear that Joker is a psychopath and possibly has a personality disorder, he explains that those qualities do not necessarily correlate with mental illness, and the Joker’s control over his actions and knowledge that he is doing something wrong mean that he should be imprisoned instead of sent off for treatment. See Dr. Bender’s Joker analysis below and the full video above:
If I were to see the Joker, I would first of all wonder does he belong in Arkham Asylum? He’s an individual that has come across to me as not having any mental illness. Yes, something is off with him, as people say, in that he commits the crime that he does, he kills people, he wants to introduce anarchy. He tells Two-Face, ‘introduce a little anarchy here. I just do,’ that’s what he says, he’s just ready to create chaos. He’s an agent of chaos. All of that makes me think, are there any real mental health issues such as depression or anxiety or any psychosis, anything like that? And I don’t see that. I do wonder about antisocial personality disorder…In this case, he certainly meets criteria for antisocial personality disorder, and I do think he’s a psychopath. Not all people with antisocial personality disorder are psychopaths, but in this case I do think he is one. Given that he’s a psychopath and there’s no significant mental illness related to why he’s committing the crimes he is, he doesn’t belong here at Arkham…He knows what he’s doing, so not only does he not have a mental illness, he also knows what he’s doing, knows what he’s doing is wrong. He belongs in Blackgate Penitentiary.
Related: Batman or Joker: Who REALLY Won In The Dark Knight
Much Of Batman’s Villain Roster Does Experience Mental Illness
Though his analysis of the Joker shows that the self-dubbed agent of chaos is capable of controlling his actions and simply chooses not to, Dr. Bender also explored the mental health issues faced by a host of other Batman villains, including Harvey Dent/Two-Face (Aaron Eckhart). The psychiatrist’s comments indicate that both Dent and the Riddler’s (Paul Dano) actions stem from obsessions, which lead to their compulsions — like flipping a coin or leaving behind riddles — in an attempt to feel a sense of control in their lives. In general, there are many Batman villains suffering from mental health conditions, with Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Penguin, Mad Hatter, and several others serving as examples, which is why Arkham is such a crucial Batman setting.
Batman villains sometimes exhibit changes as they are rebooted, with Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker serving as an example. While Ledger’s Joker may not belong in Arkham Asylum due to his awareness of his actions, Phoenix’s Joker exhibits much less control over his facilities, which may be explored further in Joker: Folie á Deux. The reason for so much of Batman’s villain roster exhibiting signs of mental illness could simply be due to the nature of the source material, though some parallels between the undiagnosed Batman and his crowd of foes experiencing difficulties with their mental health could be explored in The Batman 2.
Will Joker Return In The Batman 2?
The Batman brought a new version of the Joker to life with Barry Keoghan’s iteration of the character, who appeared briefly at the end of the Robert Pattinson-led film alongside Dano’s Riddler at Arkham. In the clip, Keoghan’s Joker seems to connect with Dano’s Riddler, hinting at a potentially manipulative relationship forming. The short scene featuring the character indicates that he could come back in The Batman 2 or a future sequel, where viewers will be able to determine whether he is a more lucid rendition like Ledger’s in The Dark Knight or a different interpretation of the character.
More: 1 The Batman Detail Makes Riddler More Terrifying Than Ledger’s JokerSource: GQ