The Joker is the hero of The Dark Knight, popular fan theory posits

The supposed villain rooted out Gotham's corrupt officials

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The Independent Culture

It’s undeniable that the idea of the Batman is deeply flawed, and as Birdman director Alejandro G. Iñárritu once pointed out, superheroes are by their very nature right wing, appointing themselves judge, jury and executioner and killing people because they do not believe in what they believe.

Perhaps then, psychotic though he, it’s The Joker who is Gotham’s saviour, if anyone. In a hugely-upvoted post, a Redditor writes:

“Joker, although a lying psychopath, is actually the hero in The Dark Knight. Before the Joker, Gotham was a mess. Entire sections of the city were closed off due to madness, organized crime ran rampant, and the majority of important city officials were wildly corrupt. The city even tolerated a renegade vigilante who ran around wearing a rubber suit (Okay, special armor and carbon fiber, but they don't know that).

“Along comes the Joker and by the end of a very short time, almost all organized crime was eliminated, many corrupt officials were imprisoned or dead, and the city's vigilante even went into hiding for 8 years. This was all part of Joker's masterfully executed plan.”

They go on to list all the specific moments in which the Joker actually seems motivated by the desire to crush corruption, and all the times his actions actually help the city long term.

A look inside Heath Ledger's sinister 'Joker journal' he made during The Dark Knight

The theory concludes:

“Even the display with the two boats at the film's climax only served to prove to the people of Gotham that they wouldn't turn on each other. He proved that there was good even in the most supposedly despicable of Gotham's inmates.

“In the end Gotham is actually clean. It wasn't because of Harvey, who died too soon to do any good, except as a martyr, and it wasn't because of Batman who was ostracized and treated like the criminal such a vigilante truly is for 8 years. Gotham was safe because the Joker had cleaned up the streets. He eliminated the corrupt police, he destroyed organized crime financially, he uplifted Gotham's spirit, and he even got rid of the flying pest that had been corrupting Gotham ever since he declared himself it's protector."

Joker-based fan theories have been rife lately, with another suggesting that Jared Leto's version of the character in Suicide Squad is in fact Robin.