Patton Oswalt Shares A Surprising Theory About The Dark Knight’s Joker


Comedian Patton Oswalt recently completed I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, his late wife Michelle McNamara’s book about the Golden State Killer. In the process it seems he developed a heightened interest in investigation, one he recently applied to Christopher Nolan’s second Batman movie. “I’ve always liked the theory that Heath Ledger’s Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is a war veteran suffering PTSD,” he wrote. “But I just re-watched The Dark Knight, and another wrinkle came to mind about The Joker. What if he’s not only ex-military, but ex-military intelligence? Specifically—interrogation?”

While that may sound like a stretch, Oswalt makes a persuasive case: “He seems to be very good at the kind of mind-f***ery that sustained, professional interrogation requires. His boast about how ‘I know the squealers’ when he sees one. The way he adjusts his personality and methods depending on who he’s talking to, and knowing EXACTLY the reaction he’ll get: mocking Gamble’s manhood; invoking terror to Brian, the ‘false’ Batman; teasing the policeman’s sense of loyalty to his fallen, fellow cops; digging into Gordon’s isolation; appealing to Harvey Dent’s hunger for ‘fairness.’ He even conducts a ‘reverse interrogation’ with Batman when he’s in the box at the police station—wanting to see how ‘far’ Batman will go, trying to make him break his ‘one rule.’”

Whether you buy it or not, Oswalt has a lot more to say about this subject, and you can read the whole post here. For a reminder of Ledger’s distinctively damaged performance, check out the trailer for The Dark Knight below.