Part of what makes Heath Ledger’s Joker such a fascinating villain is how little we know about him. Throughout The Dark Knight, this especially intense rendition of the Clown Prince of Crime offers only a few contradictory clues of his background, leaving it to the audience to wonder who exactly’s hiding behind all that white makeup. While this leaves plenty of room for fans to spin their theories, it also means that any attempt to explain the Joker and his manic behavior risks draining some of the intriguing mystery from the character.
Still, it must be said that this new post on Reddit makes an unusual amount of sense with its suggestion that there’s a whole load of chemical influence behind the restless criminal’s wild demeanor. Though user Mybustersword doesn’t claim to know where the Joker came from or why he does what he does, they do offer an explanation for the various tics and idiosyncrasies of Ledger’s performance.
“It may be fairly obvious looking back at it. The reason he is so unhinged is because he’s an addict. But I think it’s not just one drug, I think he does a cocktail of drugs on the regular. Crystal meth, inhalants/whippet, opiates, cocaine specifically.”
While you could question how a character so perpetually wasted could conduct grand and elaborate plans in such an orderly manner, perhaps this isn’t any less realistic than someone who’s just plain off his rocker doing the same, so we can probably let that issue slide. In any case, Mybustersword goes on to back up their assertion by observing several signs of substance abuse in Batman’s nemesis.
“He licks his lips (dry mouth is a side effect of long term meth use), he barely ever seems to sleep or eat. He’s erratic, irrational, talkative. He carries around knives which could be for weapons but can also be to help him cut or sniff more drugs. He takes punches without seeming to care or feel any pain, often laughing. It’s unclear the motives for his actions or his background but I think it’s pretty clear this joker is a drug addict.”
Again, it’s a pretty solid argument, even if you might prefer to view the Joker’s strange and fidgety disposition as the product of a mind that doesn’t need drugs to be this messed up.
To a large extent, this psychotic mischief-maker is whatever you want him to be. There’s an unnerving ambiguity to Ledger’s take on the famed antagonist, and this may well be part of the reason why this version remains so feared and beloved more than a decade after The Dark Knight first graced our screens.