Bob Kane’s Batman comic series is incredibly expansive; however, a steady, well-known constant in the universe is the relationship between Batman and his main nemesis, the Joker. The two characters go far beyond a clash between”good” and “evil;” the most important story arcs in the Batman universe explain these two characters from more of a yin-yang perspective, in that one’s existence justifies the other. Certain story arcs on this topic are better received than others, and I believe that it in most cases this is due to that particular arc’s adherence to the original Batman canon. While each may slightly differ plot-wise, the majority of Batman and Joker story arcs begins and ends in quite similar places: two unwavering characters, with rigid moral codes that appear to be ideologically opposite, end up justifying the existence of each other, with no real long term resolution (no triumph of good over evil, etc).
My project aims to look at the various visual representations of their relationship across several media and observe the similarities and differences between them. This transmedia study will include analyses of the film, video games, and graphic novels. The works that will be studied are The Dark Knight film by Christopher Nolan (2008), the graphic novels The Killing Joke by Alan Moore (1988) and The Man Who Laughs by Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke (2005), and the Warner Bros/Rocksteady video game Arkham Origins (2013). For a media element, I will attempt to analyze the major plot lines and story progression of each work by means of a visual map of the major stages of Freytag’s Pyramid, which will include examples from each of the works listed. By mapping out all these different story lines, I hope to emphasize the nature of the relationship between Batman and Joker, and note the importance of this aspect of the original narrative canon.