In The Joker #3, Gordon’s recollection of his history with the clown seems eerily similar to the plot of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
Warning: spoilers for The Joker #3!
Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is widely considered one of the best Batman movies ever made, but the film’s story extends beyond the big screen. In fact, DC just teased that the plot of The Dark Knight is actually canon to the ongoing series The Joker.
The Joker by James Tynion IV is a new comic series from DC set in the wake of the massive explosion at Arkham Asylum that shook Gotham City to its core. Because Joker toxin was used in the huge Arkham attack, everyone believes the Clown Prince of Crime was behind it – though he insists he’s being framed. In any case, Jim Gordon has been enlisted to hunt Joker down, and the series gives the former commissioner plenty of time to reflect on his long, tumultuous history with the villain. In issue #3, Gordon recalls when the Joker first began wreaking havoc in Gotham, but his memories seem to be lifted straight from The Dark Knight movie.
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Throughout the series so far, the trauma Joker has inflicted on Gordon over the years – particularly during the events of The Killing Joke – has been made painfully clear. However, back when Joker first arrived on the scene, Gordon admits he “didn’t take him seriously enough. None of us did. I thought he was a distraction from the important work I was doing with Batman and Harvey Dent.” That work was taking down the organized crime syndicates and political corruption that had pervaded Gotham for years, so it makes sense that Gordon would prioritize that over “a psychotic clown who seemed to want attention more than anything else.” Unfortunately, underestimating the Joker proved to be a terrible mistake – a lesson that Christopher Nolan’s Batman and Gordon also learned the hard way.
After Joker’s epic bank heist in the beginning of The Dark Knight, Gordon fills Batman in on what happened, and their conversation implies this isn’t the first time Joker has popped up on their radar. In fact, Joker’s story was planned with Batman Begins from the ending scene where Gordon informs the Caped Crusader of a new villain in town. Still, Batman doesn’t seem to think the clown is a major threat, saying “One man or the entire mob? He can wait.” At the time, the Joker seemed like little more than an eccentric robber, so Batman, Gordon, and Harvey Dent choose to instead keep their focus on the bigger fish of Gotham’s mafia. They had yet to understand the kind of man they were dealing with, and only too late did they realize that the Joker’s desire for anarchy was far more dangerous than the mob.
With DC’s new Infinite Frontier era bringing all their stories – including some non-comic adaptations – into a new, merged canon, it’s pretty cool that the backstory Gordon gives in The Joker so closely mirrors The Dark Knight. Plenty of movies have been inspired by comics, but it’s nice to see that the relationship goes both ways and that comics can take cues from films, as well. In any case, it seems that in both the comics and the movie, Joker made good on his promise from The Dark Knight to give Gotham a “better class of criminal.”
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