“You have nothing, nothing to threaten me with! Nothing to do with all your strength!”
2008’s The Dark Knight is a rarely disputed example of a universally praised comic based film. While Batman Begins raised audience expectations, The Dark Knight all but ensured that The Dark Knight Rises would feel like a disappointment. While many a fanboy and fangirl were skeptical when Heath Ledger was announced as the Joker, few stood by those trepidations once the film was released. Though, “Why so serious?” became the phrase most associated with this version of the Joker, for me it was not his defining line.
Horror exists when the familiar becomes strange, and you lose control of the world around you. This is one of the guiding principles of nearly all horror fiction. More than any character in any genre The Joker represents this. While it may be difficult to remember clowns were once most associated with children’s entertainment. The very image of the Joker is a perversion of this concept. The Joker is not the most physically imposing figure, yet his presence brings with it danger, because control is lost in his presence. When The Joker appears in 2008’s Dark Knight the gangsters could have killed him, period. They did not though because of the threat of the dead man’s switch. He shows you how little power you have, despite what you and others may believe. Even bound in a prison cell with a larger man beating him, The Joker is in control. Despite his superior strength and intelligence, Batman is helpless before The Joker.
This is where the line, “You have nothing, nothing to threaten me with! Nothing to do with all your strength!” Comes into play. Batman has trained his mind and body he has taken advantage of everything he could to be in control, yet it does not matter. He is young Bruce again watching helplessly as his parents are gunned down. It’s these moments in life that truly take their toll. When you have prepared, and done everything you could for a challenge, and then realize it was all for not. This challenge could be physical or mental, but it is beyond you. You have no control here.