A spoiler-free discussion.
In any form of fiction, a hero is only as memorable as the villain that antagonizes him. Without the existence of a formidable evil persona to challenge or torment the good guys that we root for, the hero’s journey will never truly leave a mark on audiences’ minds.
Arguably the greatest comic book villain in existence, The Joker is one of those said antagonists that manages to push Batman to his limits with each of his more modern-day appearances. That being said, as enjoyable as it is to see The Joker on screen giving the Caped Crusader a run for his money, there lies a problem with the viability of a continuous Joker/Batman face-off taking place each time there is a new Batman reboot in the works.
Too many Jokers
In as little as over a decade, audiences have been presented with not one but three separate portrayals of The Joker on screen, with rumors circulating that there will be yet another Joker cameo in 2022’s The Batman. As a casual moviegoer, one might take no issue with the fact that we have witnessed a new Joker every couple of years, but for the more hardened fans of comic book movies, and particularly fans of the Batman Mythos, seeing The Clown Prince of Crime again and again can seem a little too much.
The difference between a protagonist and an antagonist
Unlike the protagonist, an antagonist thrives far better in fiction the lesser he is seen. Within the confines of that limitation, a villain like The Joker can shine as the agent of chaos that he is. Villains are the bombs that go off in a hero’s life, and we, as the viewers, follow along with the hero as he tries to overcome the obstacle. However, if the same villain was to be presented every single time doing the exact same thing when the said hero had a new story, the villain would only serve to be more of an annoyance rather than a point of interest to audiences. Simply put, it is a lot easier for a villain to become stale in viewers’ eyes than it is for the hero in a similar situation.
That is precisely why The Joker needs to be retired as a character on screen, or at the very least, put away for the next decade or so until he is missed. By doing this, the studio will undoubtedly retain the villain’s appeal among fans, ensuring that the magic surrounding the character will result in a better pay-off on screen after having disappeared for so long. After all, one of the main reasons we, as fans, still love Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker in 2008, even until this very day, is because the last time a live-action Joker appeared on film, it was nearly two decades prior.
Food for thought.
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