The Joker is the perfect villain for Batman, no question, but what makes the perfect villain/antagonist?
- Exceptionally good at attacking the hero’s greatest weakness – The protagonist can only be as great as the antagonist. The antagonist must be powerful in order for the hero to face struggle, the harder the struggle, the more compelling the story and journey. The joker is powerful at exploiting and utilising Batman’s weaknesses. Batman uses intimidation to scare off bad guys as he will not kill them. The Joker however, isn’t afraid to die so Batman cannot intimidate him. This makes Batman’s power useless against the Joker as the only way to stop him, is to kill him.
- Pressuring the protagonist into difficult choices – The difficult choices reveal the characters true nature. The harder the choice, the deeper the revelation, the more the characters true thoughts and beliefs are revealed. The forces of antagonism need to keep putting more and more pressure on the antagonist to make a tough decision, to show the audience what they truly are which is Joker’s plan all along.
- Competing for the same goal as the protagonist – Both Batman and the Joker want to make Gotham in their vision. Batman wants peace and order whereas Joker only wants chaos and disorder. This leads the protagonist and antagonist to clash as they have views that collide with each other.
- The Joker makes Batman become wiser – The Joker teaches Batman the limits of his power and how his weaknesses can be used against him. We see this change batman throughout the film and in the decisions he makes.
- The Joker has a specific and profound effect on the story and the protagonist, he has a purpose in the film that no one except him can full fill.
These Ideas are what can make a great villain but they don’t always work. For example, a Villain can be great at some of the things on the list but not so great at others and still be amazing. In group superhero movies such as the avengers or justice league, we see the group of superheros typically overwhelmed by sheer power and quantity but not anything that specifically targets their powers.