"What makes a good villain?"--Jenny
"You ever danced with the devil by the pale moonlight?"--Joker
"A great villain is one you like despite yourself."--Ali
"What kind of punchline is that?"--Joker
"When the villain is introduced, it's up to the storyteller to paint this individual as an adversary worthy of the hero."--Iron John
"What are you going to do? Put me in the loony bin? I'm already here."--Joker
"I think the best conflicts come when the villain and hero are two sides of the same coin,"--Deb
"We're two faces of the same coin, you and I."--Joker
I like what Ali and John said. Deb too. Deb makes a good point. Here's this fourth and related take that I'm taking. John said "has chance of slaughtering hero!" Ali said "we see in heem thing that eez relatable. Yeees, I am Slowpoke Rodriguez, and I don't know why." Deb says, "Same coin, different faces."
I think these are all true. Why is the Joker scary? He's like all the things that Batman is not; entirely untethered. Why reavers frighten we? Same reason. Why does this untethered nature of these creatures frighten us? We see somewhat of ourselves there; the potentiallity for absolute psychotic loopiness.
So here's another thought. Why is it that when Danny DeVito, as directed by Tim Burton, played Penguin, we have a scare? What changed? He was still recognizably the short, three fingered, bird-resembling, pudgy, umbrella-wielding, super-powerless guy. What changed?
Well, I think he was more realistic. More complicated, with Danny DeVito playing him and Tim Burton putting it together. His plight more sympathetic; his thinking more accessible.... And because of his psychosis, this frightens us. We don't really want to empathize with psychotic penguin guy. It's unpleasant.
But it's fascinating.
I think villains derive as much of their fright from the same qualities that heroes get their coolness from. Qualities like humanity, emotion, perseverence, overcoming adversity.
Which has, like bolty lightning, got a thought in my head! Joker, he is not always happy. Is not always laughing. He laughs at inappropriate times and inappropriate thing, which is frightening certainly, but he isn't always laughing. But when he is sad, he is very very sad. And when he is angry, it's heated and volcanic.
He feels with far more intensity than anyone else. At all, ever. Everything. Fast, and completely, his emotions strike him and control his everything. The antithesis of poker-face Dark Knight, certainly; but he's us without inhibition. We relate to emotion, and Joker's emotions are off the richter.
I'm so smart.