Putting Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning performance aside, the YouTube channel, Lessons from the Screenplay, delves deeper into what makes The Joker the perfect antagonist for Batman in Christopher Nolan's 2008 masterpiece, The Dark Knight.
It begins by explaining that The Joker is exceptionally good at attacking Batman's greatest weaknesses. Whereas Batman normally can intimidate his opponents with physical strength, The Joker creates scenarios, such as kidnapping Rachel and Harvey, that can't be resolved with punches. Then there is Batman's moral code which prevents him from killing anyone. Since The Joker doesn't fear death and will only truly stop scheming when he's dead, he easily exposes and exploits that weakness.
The Joker is also a great antagonist because he continues to apply pressure throughout the film, forcing Batman to make increasingly difficult choices that test and reveal his true character. For this part of the discussion, the video draws a parallel between Kevin Spacey's villain in Se7en and The Joker.
However, the point I like best is when the video bring up the compelling and personal stakes The Joker raises in the climax. Whereas your run-of-the-mill superhero film will have the good guy trying to prevent the villain from destroying the world, which is hard for the audience to buy into, The Joker had Batman battle for Gotham's soul. This made the stakes believable and gripping for the audience.
Christian Bale once again embodies the man behind the mask in The Dark Knight. The film reunites Bale with Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan and takes Batman across the world in his quest to fight a growing criminal threat. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman has been making headway against local crime—until a rising criminal mastermind known as The Joker (the late Heath Ledger in his Oscar-winning role) unleashes a fresh reign of chaos across Gotham City. To stop this devious new menace—Batman's most personal and vicious enemy yet—he will have to use every high-tech weapon in his arsenal and confront everything he believes.