Joker Character in the Dark Knight Movie

Posted on: 16th May 2023


Professors Instructions

Please refer to the DSM IV-TR criteria for sadism for this assignment. Please find a real example of a serial murderer in history and provide examples from the individual that justifies that they meet the clinical definition of a sadist. If you want you may pick a character in a film. That said you MUST fully justify that the individual example meets the clinical definition of sadism. 

Each assignment response needs to be 1000 words, with APA 7th ed citations and 7 references. Do Not Use MLA or any other form of reference.

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Joker Character in the Dark Knight Movie

The Joker character in the film Dark Knight is a sadistic individual who believes that the rest of the world is like him. However, he is a beneficial character based on his personality. Additionally, Dark Knight stirs up strong reactions in the way it portrays the mental disorder of the lead character. Having employed DSM-5 criteria to establish whether Joker portrays any signs of a real mental disorder, I observed an unclear combination of symptoms that suggest a complex mix-up of personality traits, narcissism, and psychopathy; hence, he meets the criteria. Also, he portrays symptoms of a pseudobulbar effect resulting from a traumatic brain injury.

At the beginning of the movie, Joker is shown robbing a bank. He moves on with the idea of stealing the money, but things do not end there as he goes ahead and plants a grenade mouth of the bank owner. Joker grins as he gets away with the money after pulling a safety pin on the grenade. Additionally, Joker is constantly struggling to find sleep, confirming that he has some bipolar disorders (Choe, 2011). Also, Joker portrays a depressed mood throughout the film. Even though Joker showed tremendous improvement in behavior, he was mainly depressed and suffering from some pain (Prasetya, 2022). He would get at least two hours of sleep and spend the rest of his time doing various activities such as hurting people aimlessly.

The Joker explains his childhood story when his father would beat him and physically abuse him. His father would use a knife to cut his mouth, leaving permanent marks on him. That could have been the cause of his mental disorder. He utilizes emotions from his traumatic childhood experiences to hurt other people to make them feel similar pain and go through what he suffered in his childhood (Aprillia et al., 2020).

In the Dark Knight, Joker is the stuff of nightmares. He does many cruel things that no one would have thought they are possible. Moreover, he has developed the habit of playing with other peoples’ minds in a way that makes the viewer’s skin crawl. As the villain, Joker continuously outwits those around him, including his henchman and the law enforcement officers. Throughout the story, all Bruce can do is try to keep up with the villain (Paniagua, 2022). Joker’s strange behavior has prompted even Batman to state that he has no idea how to read Joker. In response, Alfred tells Batman that there are some people whose main intention is to watch the world burn, and such individuals are rarely motivated by rational things. Instead, Joker presents himself as a new supervillain breed full of animosity as he is an individual fueled by his sadistic nature.

Employing the r/FanTheory to analyze the movie, in the final act of public terrorism, Joker threatens to blow Gotham up and says traps are set on the bridges leaving the city. As a result, the authorities decide to evacuate the people through a ferry whereby they send two, one full of convicted criminals and another filled with civilians (Cocksworth, 2009). Afterward, Joker reveals that he has bombs planted in both and gives each a detonator to the other ferry. Joker threatens that they have to blow each other, and if they fail to do so, he will blow them simultaneously. However, in the end, none of them go through with Joker’s plan, and he is stopped before he can blow them both. As a viewer, one may imagine a possibility that there was a twist on Joker’s threat whereby the whole deal was intended to mess with people. Such an incident is seen when he burned mafias cash when hostages were disguised as Joker’s henchmen and the scene when he switched Harvey and Rachel’s addresses.

With those examples in mind, Joker’s conduct seems like a prisoner’s dilemma though this one is a little too straightforward. Hence, there is a possibility that Joker did not give ferries a detonator to the other ship. Instead, each was given its detonator so that if they attempted to detonate the other ship, they would kill themselves, and if that happened, people on the other ship would have paid for the crime (Bellinger, 2016). Many scholars have hypothesized this suggestion and the reason why it seems feasible is that Joker is an individual popular for pulling such moves. He finds it fun pulling a fast one on the police and the heroes, and when other people feel flustered, that is the time when Joker enjoys the most a confirmation that he is a sadist.

The approach mentioned above radicalizes all aspects of the villain in the film. Joker is a character that has managed to fool almost everyone in the film several times already by offering misleading information and burning cash, among other moves. Therefore, there is a high likelihood that he lied to the people in the ferries when offering instructions. Joker is an individual who is determined to make people feel like they are on the edge of insanity, just like him. That means they should not try hard enough to be better people; instead, they should be ready to give up on it if they have one bad day. Hence, to ensure that they suffered, he lied to the civilians and the prisoners. One most realistic situation would have been the civilians deciding to push the button and blow up the prisoners. If a spaceship can’t be supplied, its crew will have to abandon it. If that happens, they will blow their ship, with everyone blaming the prisoners for losing innocent lives. As a result, Joker may have intended to push the prisoners to cause chaos and move them closer to the edge of the abyss. When that happens, the media and the society will do the whole rest Joker laughs hysterically. When people have to keep their jobs, Joker confirms that he is a good villain and a sadist. All his ideas merely introduce chaos and somehow make people embrace it (Redinta, 2017). The approach does a splendid job of portraying that possibility.

In conclusion, Joker is presented as a criminal mastermind in the film Dark Night. The movie introduces him as a psychopath who possesses a warped, sadistic sense of humor. The Joker qualifies to be a sadist considering that he does all the sadistic acts in consciousness despite his antisocial disorders. He has no empathy and murders people in the cruelest way possible as he smiles, watching them wreath in pain. Joker is also a masochist as he continually subjects himself to pain through his mutilations. The Joker’s actions show that he wants people to suffer as much as possible, and he will do anything to ensure that they do.



Aprillia, A., Andayani, E. S., Chodidjah, C., & Khoirunnisa, K. (2020). Antisocial Disorder Of Joker Character In The Dark Knight Movie Directed By Christopher Nolan. Kredo: Jurnal Ilmiah Bahasa dan Sastra4(1), 129-147.

Bellinger, C. K. (2016). The Joker is Satan, and So Are We: Girard and The Dark Knight. Journal of Religion & Film13(1), 5.

Choe, Y. (2011). Darker Than Night: The Joker as a Symptom of the War on Terror in The Dark Knight. 미국학34.

Cocksworth, A. (2009). The Dark Knight and the evilness of evil. The Expository Times120(11), 541-543.

Paniagua, J. J. A. (2022). ‘Whatever Doesn’t Kill You Simply Makes You Stranger’: Fear In The Character Of The Joker In The Dark Knight And Joker. Revista de Estudios Norteamericanos26.

Prasetya, A. B. (2022). Penonjolan Tokoh Antagonis dalam Film The Dark Knight (Studi Semiotik Tokoh Joker dalam Film The Dark Knight). Jurnal Ilmiah Komunikasi Makna2(2), 23-30.

Redinta, A. R. (2017). The Meanings Of Psychopathic Attitudes Of The Joker As Seen In Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Movie Script (Doctoral Dissertation, Sanata Dharma University).

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