Christopher Nolan left the backstory of the Joker out of The Dark Knight, keeping the mystery surrounding the iconic villain shrouded in the dark shadows. Heath Ledger’s version of the Clown Prince of Crime is arguably one of the best portrayals fans have been treated to over the years and now, comedian/actor Patton Oswalt has taken to social media to share his very in-depth theory on the backstory of Ledger’s version of the Joker. Patton’s take on the character is fresh and very detailed while connecting some dots in the story.
Patton Oswalt recently re-watched The Dark Knight and took his thoughts about Heath Ledger and his Joker persona to social media. He begins his post by admitting that he’s always liked the theory that Christopher Nolan’s story saw the Joker as a veteran who is suffering from PTSD. Oswalt went on to point out some of the details of The Dark Knight that work with that particular theory. He explains.
“His referencing a truckload of soldiers getting blown up, his ease with military hardware, and his tactical ingenuity and precision planning all feel like an ex-Special Forces soldier returned stateside and dishing out payback. I love films that contain enough thought and shading to sustain post-screening theorizing like this.”
The details that Patton Oswalt brings up to support the military background of the Joker are on point, but he takes it a step further. Oswalt then asks: “What if he’s not only ex-military, but ex-military intelligence?” This is where his theory really begins to turn into something fun to think about the next time you watch The Dark Knight. Oswalt theorizes.
“He seems to be very good at the kind of mind-f*ckery that sustained, professional interrogation requires. His boast about how I know the squealers when he sees one. The way he adjusts his personality and methods depending on who he’s talking to, and knowing EXACTLY the reaction he’ll get: mocking Gamble’s manhood; invoking terror to Brian, the false Batman; teasing the policeman’s sense of loyalty to his fallen, fellow cops; digging into Gordon’s isolation; appealing to Harvey Dent’s hunger for fairness. He even conducts a reverse interrogation with Batman when he’s in the box at the police station – wanting to see how far Batman will go, trying to make him break his one rule. He constantly changes his backstory (and thus who he is). To Gamble and his henchmen, he’s an abused child (figuring that they were also the products of abuse and neglect). To Rachel, he’s a man mourning a tragic love – something she’s also wrestling with.”
Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker certainly lends itself to a lot of what Patton Oswalt is putting out there. The military intelligence narrative explains a lot of what we don’t see from the Joker’s past, filling in gaps. However, this theory has never been acknowledged by Christopher Nolan. Patton Oswalt wrapped up his take on the Joker by saying this.
“In the end, he ends up trying to mind-f*ck an entire city – and the city calls his bluff. Or is that what he wanted all along? He plummets to his seeming death, laughing like a child. And when he’s rescued by Batman, the one individual he couldn’t manipulate or break, he’s blissful and relieved (and, visually, turned on his head). Even the language he uses when saying goodbye to Batman – describing their relationship as an irresistible force meeting an immovable object – is the kind of thing an interrogator would say, ruefully, about a fruitless session.”
Patton Oswalt’s lengthy theory about the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was supported in the comments section of his original Facebook post. Additionally, some fans of the comedian even helped support his theory even further, which has started to make the rounds online. Christopher Nolan may have some explaining to do if the Oswalt’s post keeps gaining momentum. You can read the entirety of the new theory about the Joker in The Dark Knight via Patton Oswalt’s Facebook page.