4. There’s Too Much Order in The Joker’s Chaos, The Dark Knight
For a guy who claims not to be a planner, Heath Ledger‘s Joker is awfully good at, well making plans. His speech to Harvey Two-Face aside – in which he compares himself to a dog chasing cars – The Joker’s knowledge and understanding of the people he manipulates borders on the clairvoyant. For one thing, his plan requires Batman and the whole justice department of Gotham to behave exactly according to plan.
When Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) is seemingly killed in the line of duty, Harvey Dent steps up and “reveals” Batman in front of the press corp. He is then taken into police custody under the belief that The Joker will try to hijack Dent en route, which he does. Events pan out and The Joker is captured, but only after, amongst other things, firing a bazooka at Dent’s convoy.
The Joker’s thugs kidnap both Dent and Bruce Wayne’s childhood sweetheart Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) while The Joker is in police custody. Under duress, The Joker gives Batman two addresses, one for Rachel, one for Harvey, both of whom are wired with explosives. Batman chooses the address he believes Rachel is at, but discovers Dent there instead. The police turn up just too late to rescue Rachel who is killed in the explosion. Batman saves Dent, but Dent’s face is horribly scarred in the explosion, which, along with the loss of his fiancé Rachel, turns him into the vengeful Two-Face.
Meanwhile, The Joker manages to provoke a guard into taking a swing at him then takes said guard hostage. He demands a phone call in exchange for the guard’s life, which he is granted; the phone call is to a makeshift bomb in the stomach of one of his henchmen who had been arrested alongside him. This explosion, the third in about as many minutes, kills a whole bunch more police officers and sets The Joker free. Phew…
There are a lot of moving parts in that plan, a lot of variables to account for, the failure of any of which would have ruined the whole thing. What if Batman hadn’t saved Dent from The Joker’s attack on the convoy? What if Batman had chosen to head to the address he thought Harvey was at instead? You can claim The Joker guessed at his feelings for Rachel based on a scene I’ll address next, but that’s a big gamble. How did he know Dent wouldn’t be killed in the explosion thereby preventing his becoming corrupt? How did he know the cop would rise to his taunts thus allowing The Joker to take him hostage? Did he even want to kill the Mayor? The list goes on.
Ultimately, The Joker arguably carries the whole thing off just to prove how clever he is, but it’s difficult to claim you’re an agent of chaos when you put quite that much work into making sure that absolutely everything goes your way – even if it’s never entirely quite clear exactly what “your way” is.