Queer-Coding, Bad-Bat-Takes, And Why The Joker Isn’t That Important to Batman

Content Warning for stereotypes built from homophobia and transmisogyny that are present in the Joker’s portrayal across the years.


joker post header
The art in this header is Alex Ross’s 2015 piece “Mind if I Cut In

“In some ways, the Joker is a dark reflection of who Batman is. The loss of Bruce Wayne’s parents could’ve driven him to that edge, to where he could’ve become the Joker himself. But instead, he fought against that. Batman’s trying to bring order to the world. The Joker’s trying to bring chaos to the world.”

—–Dan Didio, Superheroes Decoded, Part One: “American Legends”

If the word “camp” is applied at all to the eighties Batman, it is a label for the Joker. This sly displacement is the cleverest method yet devised of preserving Bat-heterosexuality. The play that the texts regularly make with the concept of Batman and the Joker as mirror images now takes a new twist. The Joker is Batman’s “bad twin,” and part of that badness is, increasingly, an implied homosexuality.

—–Andy Medhurst, “Batman, Deviance, and Camp”

Despite what many comic book writers, editors, and some comic historians currently, the idea that the Joker serves as Batman’s darker “other half” is one that hinges on incredibly modern interpretations on the character that go hand in hand with ham-fisted attempts to squash them into these roles.

It’s also, not very accurate.

Didio’s comments in the first half of Superheroes Decoded are, at this point, the party line. They’re part of this attempt to reframe the Joker as necessary to the Batman’s mythos to the point where neither character can survive without the other, framing them as codependent and lost without one another. While I can see some validity in that statement where the Joker is concerned, I don’t see the point in making heroes that can’t exist without that one villain to torment them.

I especially don’t see the point in making Batman one of those heroes.Read More »