When I think about why The Dark Knight works so well, the answer always seems clear: The Joker There have been psychopathic villains before. Other antagonists with elaborate, twisting plans…But there’s something special about The Joker. In this article I’m going to breakdown the scene where he is introduced, that scene being him meeting the mob at the 23-minute mark of the film.
Be advised, this article contains major plot spoilers.
Now I know that technically The Joker was introduced during the bank heist. However, this scene with the mobsters is really when we as an audience get the first introduction to who The Joker is as a character, what he thinks, how he acts and what he wants. This scene, in my opinion, has the best character introduction of any movie.
The best introductions show you glimpses of a character’s personality traits, motivations, all the things that make them, them. This is what I’m going to be paying close attention to in this scene, how well the seeds of The Joker ‘s character are planted through dialogue in order to be able to grow into something more as the narrative progresses. I don’t want too little information, but I don’t want too much either. So, let’s dive in.
“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t have my boy pull your head off.” – Mob
“How about a magic trick?” – Joker
So, a great aspect of Joker’s dialogue is how unpredictable it is. This is our first little character trait seed planted through dialogue. And the Joker as a character is all about unpredictability because that is effectively all chaos really is. And to show how the seed grows, The Joker flat out states his relationship to unpredictability and chaos later in the movie.
“You know, I just do things.”
“I’m an agent of chaos.”
Even his expressed backstory is unpredictable.
“He sticks the blade in my mouth. Let’s put a smile on that face”
“I stick a razor in my mouth and do this myself.”
Another great aspect of Joker’s unpredictable dialogue is that you never know quite what is going to come out of his mouth next, it works to keep the audience laser focused on it.
“I want to hear a proposition.” – Mob
“Let’s wind the clocks back a year. These cops and lawyers wouldn’t dare cross any of you. I mean, what happened, did your balls drop off? I know why you choose to have your little group therapy sessions in broad daylight. I know why you’re afraid to go out at night.” – Joker
This small section of dialogue is one of the most important in the whole scene. A huge part of Joker’s character throughout the narrative is a search for authenticity. He believes that people when driven to the most authentic selves are just like him. He believes that he truly knows people at their most genuine level. He yearns for people to show who they authentically are. This allows the audience a great glimpse into a facet of The Joker that gets expounded upon later.
“You’re crazy” – Mob
“No, I’m not. No, I am not” – Joker
The Joker is called crazy and we can see that he’s visibly displeased by it. You can really see it touched him. Maybe Joker hated it as a former Arkham Asylum patient or he gets mad as he feels his ideology is misunderstood. Any way you can see he’s getting sadistic thoughts and that there’s a deeper reason as to why Joker hates being called crazy. This is a fantastic departure from previous iterations of Joker who would have revelled in being dubbed insane, melding really well with Nolan’s grittier, more realistic Batman universe. This Joker honestly believes that he sees the world with a clarity that others don’t. If anything, he probably thinks he is the only sane one. He sees himself as the protagonist. He believes that he needs to open the eyes of all the people who live in Gotham to who they truly are. This dialogue shows that being called crazy is an insult to the clarity he believes he has.
“I’m gonna make this pencil disappear (smashes a henchman on the table through the pencil) Tada, it’s gone”
I love the dialogue The Joker gives after performing the pencil trick. It shows he absolutely does not care about killing and the loss of life. It is all literally just a joke to him. This is of course a defining character trait we see throughout the film.
“If we don’t deal with this now, soon, little gamble here won’t be able to get a nickel for his grandma.” – Joker
“Enough from the clown”. – Mob
“Let’s not blow this out of proportion.” – Joker (revealing he’s wearing a vest armed with bombs)
This dialogue shows another aspect of The Joker. Not only is the death of others a joke to him, he doesn’t even take his own death seriously. None of it matters to him at all. We see this character see grow and blossom later in the movie as well.
“You think you could steal from us and just walk away? Yeah, I’m putting the word out. Five hundred grand for the clown’s head, a million alive, so I can teach him some manners first.” – Mob
“Right? So, listen, why don’t you give me a call when you want to start taking things a little more seriously. Here’s my card.” – Joker
The last line of dialogue was intentionally included as a subtle foreshadowing that The Joker never actually intended to work with the mobsters. Right before the end of the scene. The Joker says “when you want to start taking things a little more seriously” Of course, the next time we hear The Joker talking about being serious, he’s holding a knife to one of the mobster’s face. I’d like to think that this whole business with the mob is a ruse for The Joker to get access to weapons and men.
To sum it up for you, he taunts the entire mafia, kills a henchman with a pencil, leaves him there for the whole scene, gets half of the mafia’s wealth, threatens to blow them all up with grenades and simply leaves.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=votcOf5cYCM – The scene.