Batman vs. the Joker is arguably the greatest comic book hero/villain rivalry of all time. Like all legendary nemeses, Batman and the Joker remain locked in an eternal battle where their similarities equal their differences.
The most widely accepted Batman vs. Joker narrative is that, no matter how many times the two go to the mattresses, the Batman always manages to foil the Joker’s mischief and lock him up in Arkham Asylum once again. However, is Batman the real winner? Or is the Clown Prince of Crime the true mastermind for imprisoning Batman in a relentless repetition of their rivalry?
There probably is no true victor in Gotham’s most famous clash of freaks, but there’s also no great tactical advantage to Batman’s refusal to kill the Joker. In fact, the Dark Knight’s harsh anti-Joker bloodshed policy is one of many advantages that the Joker has over him.
Batman may be the world's greatest detective (not to mention the most swole human crime fighter in the DC universe) but the Joker will always live to make his beloved Batsy's life a living hell, enjoying every victory as well as every defeat. In this sense, Joker will always have a leg up on Batman.
Not convinced? Here are the 15 Things The Joker Can Do That Batman Can't.
15 He Is Immune To Poison
We all know that the Joker has a pretty toxic personality, but what some fans may not realize is that the Joker also has total toxic immunity. When you think about it, the guy has to have developed a pretty strong resistance to toxins and poisons, given the fact that some of his most oft deployed mass torture methods are chemical based.
Plus, once you survive falling into a big vat of acid, there’s not really much some laughing gas can do to make things any worse for you.
Joker’s toxic immunity is arguably his greatest physical advantage over Batman. In terms of brute physical strength, Joker obviously has nothing on the Dark Knight. However, with an immunity to poisons, the Joker can create an environment where he physically towers over his debilitated nemesis. Talk about a brutal prank.
14 He Doesn’t have to worry about mortality
No matter how many times Batman catches up to him, the Joker just won’t go away. It’s one thing to keep turning up like a bad penny, but it’s another thing to be an immortal being that will likely exist centuries longer than any Gotham defender.
As revealed in the Batman: Endgame comic, Joker is part of an elite group of folks (him, Vandal Savage, and Ra’s Al Guhl) who gained immortality from the radiation of a powerful meteorite that fell to earth.
Joker is seldom seen as a character of mythological proportions as epic as the likes of Ra’s Al Guhl or General Zod, but in light of his alleged immorality, the Clown Prince of Crime becomes a literal monster of almost Lovecraftian proportions. How can Batman ever compete with that?
13 He Enjoys the thrill of defeat
When Batman loses a battle, he broods. When Joker loses a battle, he laughs. The latter may seem crazier, but wouldn't we all rather laugh than brood?
Batman has never been one to suffer defeat gladly. Sometimes this has worked out to his advantage. When Bane broke his back, rendering him useless as a crime fighter, Bats harnessed his middle-aged-rich-guy angst to slowly heal from the injury and return to butt-kicking with a vengeance.
However, part of the reason Joker has been able to bounce back from so many defeats is because he never really sees them as defeats at all, but cruel, laughable pit stops in the big joke that we call life. Should he ever decide to retire from terrorism, maybe the Joker could be a motivational coach for the criminally insane.
12 He Can Create advanced gadgetry without a trust fund
Batman and the Joker share a love for gadgets, but only Batman seemingly has the unlimited make them. That's not to say that the Joker’s lack of trust fund prevents him from creating some of the most diabolical contraptions ever, though.
It's not always clear where the Joker finds the resources to create his elaborate mechanical gags, that probably only means he has to be more inventive Bats in the field of gadgetry (not to mention robbery).
Batman and the Joker have racked up a pretty even score when it comes to foiling each other by high-tech means. There's no clear winner when it comes to which of the two is the better gadget user, but there's no question that the Joker is the more resourceful one by his sheer ability to concoct them without the resources of entire corporate empire.
11 He Is generally unpredictable
Batman is a genius, but he’s also a fairly predictable force. His devotion to his ideals and modus operandi makes him both powerful and vulnerable to less predictable parties. This may actually be the point where he and the Joker differ the most.
In stark contrast to Batman’s exhausting predictability, Joker is arguably the most unpredictable character in comic book history. No matter how big or small his latest scheme, there’s always a big surprise up the guy’s sleeve.
If you look back at the Joker’s most memorable moves against Batman, they are almost always shrouded in unpredictability. The brutal murder of Jason Todd was a fairly shocking affair, as was the time he cut off his own face and nailed it to a wall. Few villains take fuller advantage of their insanity than the Joker, and even fewer manage to keep all of us on our toes so consistently.
10 He Can Kill With Legal Impunity
One of the Joker’s craziest and most shocking tactical advantages is the fact that he can kill without the threat of legal penalty hanging over him. In the DC universe, certifiably insane individuals are considered unfit to stand trial. This means that Joker can only be committed (rather than arrested), which means that he can kill with impunity.
The Joker will likely be in and out of Arkham Asylum for the rest of his days, but only as a mental patient, not as a legal prisoner. If any of Gotham’s other master criminals figure out this legal loophole, the city is royally screwed. If only there were some millionaire as crazy as the villains to wear a mask and fight crime outside the legal system.
9 He Can Pull Off Outlandish Outfits
There's something about Batman’s look that just doesn't fare well when he tries to take it in bolder directions. From the tights-and-underoos look of Adam West’s Batman to Batman & Robin's infamous batnips,
Batman has proved over the years that there's only a small window in which one can dress in a batsuit and make it look cool. On the flip side, Joker inhabits a look that begs as many outlandish iterations as possible.
Joker’s purple clown look has been successfully adapted to a wide variety of ridiculous outfits and signature styles. Most recently, Jared Leto’s Joker offered a modern gangster look polarized fans, but undoubtedly looked great.
The toned down Joker of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns also gave the Clown Prince of Crime an air of loud-yet-chic. On the other end of the spectrum, Joker looks just as good when he’s dressed in a tourist parody outfit in The Killing Joke, or any of the absurd duds that Nicholson’s joker wears throughout Tim Burton’s Batman.
8 He Accepts that he and bats are mirror images of each other
We all know that Batman and the Joker are two sides of the same psychotic coin, but not all of us are willing to admit it (looking at you Bats). Joker rebels in the fact that he and the Batman are shadows of each other. In fact, his entire existence practically depends on it. Whether he’s in denial or simply doesn't see it, Batman just can't accept that the Joker is his spirit animal.
It's highly suspect, and maybe even reprehensible, the degree to which Batman refuses to acknowledge the fact that he essentially created his own arch enemy.
It's even more absurd that he won't recognize the ways in which he and the Joker mirror one another. The Joker may be nuts, but he isn't delusional. Meanwhile, Batman clearly has enough delusion for the both of them.
7 He Thinks way ahead of his enemies
Batman is the world’s greatest detective, which means he has to be able to think like his enemies. But can he think ahead of them? By definition, a detective follows the clues that their subjects leave behind, and Batman is no exception. And where Batman catches a bad guy by following the trail they've left behind, the Joker has a disturbing ability to foil his foes by thinking way ahead them.
Throughout The Dark Knight, for example, Heath Ledger’s Joker executes a largely successful reign of terror in Gotham because of his ability to stay two steps ahead of every other major player. Everyone from Gotham’s criminal bosses to Gotham police, Harvey Dent, and Batman himself play into the Joker’s hand over the course of the movie. The Joker’s tunnel-visioned focus on chaos frequently brings him down, but it also gives him a sociopathic understanding of what his enemies will do before they do it.
6 He Can Maintain a relationship
Neither Batman nor the Joker are particularly good at relationships, but at least the Joker can maintain one. Though he’s not often thought of this way, Batman is a true romantic and has a bleeding heart when it comes to the ladies. Unfortunately, his fragile, fractured psyche and accompanying lifestyle doesn’t really allow him to turn a passionate romance into a healthy, long-term relationship.
Given the abusive nature of their relationship, it's kind of messed up how often we tend to obsess over Joker and Harley as a couple. In the end, it’s probably better that Batman drop his romances before they turn into something as toxic as the Joker’s relationship with Harley.
However, the fact remains that the Joker can maintain a relationship when Batman can’t, even if it's a severely unhealthy one.
5 He Takes out his allies for personal gain
Batman and the Joker are both pretty tunnel-visioned in their respective ultimate goals, often at the expense of their allies. However, where Batman can sometimes be suaded away from his agenda in order to save his friends and adopted family, Joker has no problem dispensing of those in his inner circle. Heck, sometimes he’ll do it for a good long laugh.
The Joker has worked with other notable Gotham villains on multiple occasions, and seldom do his partnerships end in a mutually beneficial way.
Whether he’s teaming up with Penguin or the Riddler for some elaborate robbery scheme, or manipulating Gotham’s crime bosses in a smokescreen master plan to neutralize Batman, there’s very little chance of truly surviving a partnership with Gotham’s resident man-who-laughs.
4 He Has guns in his arsenal
Joker is never one to avoid pulling a gun on someone, especially if it’s a gag pistol with the accompanying “Bang!” flag ready to fly out of the barrell. Guns are particularly terrifying when wielded by the Joker. His unpredictability, psychopathy, and proclivity for random violence makes the menace of a firearm extra potent (especially in light of current real-world events).
Batman’s fighting style and aversion to fatality excludes the possibility of guns in his arsenal. Given the Caped Crusader’s temperamental nature when fighting crime, that’s probably a good thing (otherwise we might as well have two Jokers on our hands).
There are already plenty of maniacs with guns terrorizing the streets of Gotham, and none have been more violent, temperamental, and completely unstable than the Joker.
3 He Can Manipulate people without shame
Batman isn’t exactly innocent of manipulation (far from in in fact), but he’s got nothing on the Joker. Though he may not admit to it, Batman has manipulated everyone in his inner circle to some degree or another.
The Joker may have been the one to kill Jason Todd, but Batman was the one who influenced an impressionable child to turn to a life of dangerous masked crime fighting in the first place. Todd’s death, along with the ruined lives of many other allies, continues to grate on Batman’s conscience. If only he had the Joker’s uncanny ability to take sincere pleasure in manipulating others.
Of all the people Joker has manipulated, his longtime girl pal Harley Quinn is the starkest example. While incarcerated in Arkham Asylum, Joker took full advantage of the young Dr. Harleen Quinzel’s fragile mind and turn her into a twisted human ornament of his criminal throne.
Batman may be just as guilty of playing mind games with potential allies, but he’s never been able to do it to the full, shameless extent that the Joker has.
2 He Can Kill without reason
Batman has broken his no-kill rule on several occasions, but he has never killed senselessly. Not only does the Joker have the ability to kill with legal impunity, but he can also kill at anytime, for no good reason at all.
Both characters have clocked in a few needless, however strategic kills in their time (Batman has been especially careless with the lives of in movies like Batman Returns and Batman v Superman), but the Joker’s rap sheet of senseless murder may even exceed Gotham City PD’s total list of major arrests.
It could be argued that every time the Joker kills, it is a tactical choice to prove his theory that life is a big, meaningless joke. However, even if that’s the case, it doesn’t mean that at least a few of his kills haven’t been mere acts of random, violent expedition.
1 He Will Always have the last laugh
Whether he’s enjoying the thrill of victory or the cruel irony of defeat, the Joker always has the last laugh. Time and again he has faced impending death with a smile, giggled in pain, and laughed hysterically in the face of incarceration.
There’s no personal low that the Joker won’t laugh at, and there’s no enemy whose victory he won’t be able to ruin with mad, incredulous, unbridled joy.
From his final chuckle with Batman in The Killing Joke to when he literally died laughing in The Dark Knight Returns, Joker’s singular knack for laughing in the face of a loss will always undermine Batman’s feeble victories.
Batman is almost too stern to even enjoy a win, while the Joker is perpetually be in his happy place, enjoying life’s meaningless, chaotic journey no matter how things turn out for him.
Are there any other things that the Joker can do that Batman can't? Let us know in the comments!