Batman, the Joker and Bloodline
“He reminded me a lot of the Joker. A character that isn’t seeking anything other than exposing people for what they truly are.”
Dan Barrett made that point when we were talking about “Bloodline” on Netflix. I think he nailed it.
I realized there are a lot of parallels in the twisted relationship between John and Danny Rayburn and Batman and the Joker.
To the outside world, both John and Batman are on the side of justice. But Danny and the Joker want to show that it’s just a façade.
“You see, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble,” Joker says in The Dark Knight. “They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these… these civilized people, they’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.”
The Dark Knight was heavily influenced by Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke. In that storyline, Batman and Joker have a fateful meeting where they attempt to understand each other and reconcile their differences.
Each individual was affected by personal trauma in the past, and how they handled it is where their paths diverged.
“My point is, I went crazy,” the Joker says. “When I saw what a black, awful joke the world was, I went crazy as a coot! I admit it! So why can’t you? You’re not unintelligent, you must see the reality of the situation?”
“You have to keep pretending that life makes sense — that there’s some point to all this struggling,” the Joker says. “GOD you make me want to puke!”
Batman and John Rayburn have seen how the world is a messed up place, but they cling to the rules and the approval of society. Batman promises to try to “rehabilitate” the Joker. John takes Danny into their house and tries to bring him back into the family.
But ultimately, their worldviews are irreconcilable. Danny and the Joker won’t quit with their quest to “watch the world burn.”
“I don’t want either of us to end up killing the other,” Batman says. “But we’re both running out of alternatives…and we both know it. Maybe it all hinges on tonight. Maybe this is our last chance to sort this bloody mess out. If you don’t take it, then we’re locked onto a suicide course. Both of us. To the death.”
Or as John Rayburn asks Danny in desperation, “When is it going to end?”
They both know the answer to that question.