TDK - did the Joker win? Your thoughts.

squirk

Sr Member
With all the DKR info coming in lately, I took the opportunity to watch TDK again. The movie just gets better and better with each viewing.

My wife and I got into a discussion about who "won" - the Batman, the Joker, or the City of Gotham.

At face value, it would appear that Batman won. Bus hostages and ferry passengers saved, and the Joker captured. In the big picture, even with Rachel and Harvey dead, still a net win.

But did the Joker really "lose"? Even though his bus/ferry plan failed, he still successfully corrupted Harvey, "the best of us". Batman and Gordon had no recourse but to lie to the public about Harvey because they knew that the Joker's success would push the city over the edge. That doesn't negate the Joker's underlying success in turning "Gotham's white knight" into a murderer?

Or can you say that Gotham won, with its faith rewarded and its white knight fallen but uncorrupted, proving there are still ordinary heroes to be had in the city? Then again, given that this belief is all based on a lie, is it more accurate to say that Gotham only thinks it won?

And that brings me back full circle. With all that having been said, did Batman nonetheless win, given that his city is, for now, still in one piece? Isn't that all that really matters (to him, at least)?
 
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Hecubus114

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Everyone won in their own way, but it was bittersweet. The people of Gotham won at Batman, Harvey Dent, Commissioner Gordon, and The Joker's expense. Gordon and Batman lost because they sold their souls to cover the truth about Harvey Dent. Gordon also put people at risk to bring the mob down, which was what led to Dent's downfall. Batman also was finally put in a position at the very end where he HAD to kill to save Gordon's son. The Joker lost because between a bunch of criminals and citizens, no one lowered themselves to blowing the others up like he thought they would.

In the end, all the "good" guys sacrificed something about themselves for the greater good of the city.
 

Wakeem

Well-Known Member
Joker won the most of the battles but not the war. Also, Batman was saved by Alfred. I've noticed the characters played by Michael Caine in Nolan's films always tend to put things right in the end.
 

thegreatgalling

Sr Member
The Joker ultimately loses. Sure he corrupted Harvey, but Gotham would not learn of it. Batman makes him a martyr, and in turn, restores/protects Gotham's "soul."
 

DavidS

Sr Member
Goodguys never "Win"
Saving others always costs something....

thats WHY they are heroes..... the "win" is not for them
 

squirk

Sr Member
The Joker ultimately loses. Sure he corrupted Harvey, but Gotham would not learn of it. Batman makes him a martyr, and in turn, restores/protects Gotham's "soul."
But Harvey's martyrdom is a sham. It's a cover-up to hide the Joker's success, and it shows how frightened Batman and Gordon were that the Joker was right - i.e., that if the city knew the truth, it would tear itself apart.

Batman heavily hints at this when he says, "But the Joker can't win." Not "the Joker didn't win," but more like "we can't let Gotham know he was right."

Can Gotham's soul truly be restored based on a lie?
 

Jedi2016

Sr Member
The Dent thing is the only part the Joker lost, I think. And while the people of Gotham didn't know what really happened to Harvey, remember that they do know that the Joker attacked him, and they believe that he died as a result of that attack. While it wasn't what the Joker wanted, it's still a more or less successful outcome, killing off the city's most ambitious District Attorney.

The city may not know, but Gordon, Batman, and the Joker know.

Also, don't count out Batman's turn at the end. While he didn't plan it (or did he?), Joker probably spent a week laughing his ass off in Arkham after hearing what Batman had "done", moreso because he knew the truth. Actually, if you look at it from the viewpoint of Batman actually killing Harvey (which, oddly enough, I never did), then the Joker won that battle, by making Batman break his one rule.

And consider that the public confidence in both their own police, as well as Batman, was incredibly shaken at the end of TDK. The city itself was irrevocably changed during the course of the film, much moreso than it was in the first film.

Did Joker win? Not really, no. Did Gotham win? Arguably not. Did Batman win? Not even close.
 

oujala

Well-Known Member
That's a great question. I honestly never got a vibe from the movie that anybody won, and never thought of the movie that way for some reason until now.

Looking at the state of things before and after, I'm inclined to say Batman lost, nothing else technically changes.


The Joker, although unknown, is first seen as a criminal and his arc ends there, so no change as far as the public is concerned.

Gotham City is dealing with corruption and criminality, which Batman falls into in their eyes...not an unsurprising blow for a city that has dealt with any number of public figures that have done the same thing (yes Batman is an idea, a symbol that has greater resonance, but the outcome of his fall is the same, though perhaps amplified) so no change.

Before the Joker, Batman was busting people with a couple of Villains included like the Scarecrow. Generally doing "good", or at least you can't complain about the results, just the methodology. After the Joker, he's on the run as a murderer in the public's view, thus the loss on his part.


Although on a more philosophical point, there was never anything to win where the Joker is concerned if any outcome is all he's interested in to begin with.

(Geez does any of that crap make sense?:wacko)
 

squirk

Sr Member
I agree the movie is far too complex to assign a simple "I win, you lose" dichotomy. That's why I put "won" in quotes in my OP. To be more specific, at the movie's conclusion, who came closest to accomplishing their desired goals?

1. Batman - to keep his city held together and to stop the Joker? Arguably so. To step down and let Harvey take the reins as Gotham's protector? No.

2. Joker - to cause chaos, to drive Gotham to the point that it goes crazy and tears itself apart? Obviously, he was thwarted, but was his underlying ethos nonetheless proven - that any and all of us could go crazy with "a little push"?

Then again, given the Joker's disinterest in any kind of big-picture plan, did he "win" simply by throwing Batman's life into chaos?

The big flaw I find in the Joker's theory is his notion that people will abandon their rules at the smallest sign of trouble, given that he had to do a LOT to Harvey to push him over the edge. In other words, people don't drop their rules easily and quickly; even in Gotham, you have to go to extremes to make that happen.

3. Gotham - to be clean and rid of crime, or at least, maintain hope that such a day could come about? Well, if the bulk of the Maroni family (the lower level) stays in jail for 18 months, then maybe.

You could argue that lying about Harvey's fate was justified because all of his good works, carried out with the purest of intentions, would be undone, as Garcia alluded to.
 

Jedi2016

Sr Member
I don't think the Joker thought that people would turn at the "slightest" hint of trouble. To him, what he did to Harvey does actually qualify as "a little push". Blowing up a few buildings and murdering a few people were nothing to him.

If you want to talk about who came closest to their goal? I think that would be the Joker. Don't take into consideration that he's in Arkham, because he doesn't care about that.
 

GeneralFROSTY

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I don't think the Joker thought that people would turn at the "slightest" hint of trouble. To him, what he did to Harvey does actually qualify as "a little push". Blowing up a few buildings and murdering a few people were nothing to him.

If you want to talk about who came closest to their goal? I think that would be the Joker. Don't take into consideration that he's in Arkham, because he doesn't care about that.
I'm going to have to agree with you here.
He could care less about what happens to him - so long as he made something happen to someone else, in this case that would be Harvey Dent.
 

ewige

Member
The Joker won two-fold, because he corrupted Dent and in the end Batman had to kill. He knocked Harvey fatally off the garage.
 

Celtic007

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Batman/Bruce Wayne lost in the sense that Harvey was his way out of being Batman as he said to Rachael. Now he has to keep being Batman. The Joker lost in the sense that his work turning Harvey would go unnoticed by the public. And he's in jail too.
 

DAVIDYR1

Official Licensee
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
For me, the Joker won...hands down.
His goal was to introduce chaos...anarchy. Disrupt society. Remember what he said to the mob bosses..."It's not about money....."

He was able to corrupt Dent....and in doing so got Batman to be perceived as a murderer. Now he's a killer...BUT in doing so gave Batman the much needed reputation to be feared all over again. Once again, remember what Maroni said to Batman "We're wise to your ways." Telling him that they know Batman has rules and that they're aware that he wont Kill anyone...well, now the bad guys know different so while the Joker turned Batman's reputation upside down...he did give him that feared by all rep that he badly needed once again....but that did happen as a result of the Joker causing determined scenarios to unfold.

Ultimately the Joker turned the city upside down...including the mob..and while he wasn't able to get the people in the ships to blow each other up...he basically did screw everything else up for everyone and the city of Gotham.

Even if he did get caught in the end...he did pretty much everything he set out to do.
Just look at how Gotham is in ruins by the end of TDK, Batman's reputation, Dent's reputation and death....corrupted cops, murdered judge and commissioner...not to mention Rachel. Then the citizens turning on one another to save their loved ones from the threat of exploding hospitals...buildings blown up and so on. Sure, Batman got in his way...but only so much. The Joker's plan was also to get arrested...escape with Lau, and turn him over to the mob. Lau was then torched alive....so yes the Joker did most of what he set out to do.

Joker got his chaos and anarchy...not to mention murder out and into the society. Yea, I'd say he won.:thumbsup

David
 

CessnaDriver

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Hell no, and it's obvious to me.

The people on board the ferrys ultimately refuse to sacrifice others for their own lives.

That isn't anarchy prevailing, that's civilization prevailing.

The Joker failed.
 

squirk

Sr Member
So would you say that the people on the ferries were better than Harvey, or that the Joker just "pushed" him harder?

You all make an excellent point that the Joker doesn't care about himself. And while he didn't get the widespread chaos he wanted, he nonetheless did f**k up arguably the two people who mattered most.
 
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