So I saw this comic the other day.
It’s one of my favorite “what if?” panels. But after a little extra pre-Christmas eggnog, I started really considering it. Could the Greatest Detective’s Greatest Enemy be the Greatest Butler? And if so, what motivates him?
I’m so glad you asked.
Here are a few theories as to why Alfred would put on the clown makeup, and how it will be possible to pull one over on the Great Detective. And because I expect that there will be some counterarguments, I shall counter them before you can raise your responses! (It’s what Batman would do)
- To Test, but not kill him
We think that Joker never kills Batman purely because of his character. He is chaos while batman is order. If the Joker were to kill the batman, he would become (more) unbalanced and lose his zest to antagonize Gotham. But the reason could be a lot, lot simpler than that. This theory is taken straight from the comic above. Alfred mainly wanted to enhance Batman’s skills for his arguably less deranged enemies. But he also wanted to make Batman doubt himself, in the vain hope that he’ll hang up his cape when pushed too far. So he takes Batman to his absolute limits, but truly wants to increase his strength and fortitude.
- Alfred Is Giving Batman Therapy
Consider what Batman’s psyche is like. This is a man who discarded his childhood and sacrifices his impulses to serve a higher purpose. Joker, on the other hand, is a clown. Literally. He is (supposedly) a man who embraces childish whims and indulges his selfish desires-and brings everyone down around him in the process. The simple presence of the Joker is to remind Batman of what he’s lost. A sense of whimsical joy in what life can bring. Freedom from society’s demands. Laughter.
It’s theorized in certain versions of the comics that Bruce Wayne was never allowed to receive therapy. After Bruce starts Batmanning, Alfred realizes that therapy would come far too late anyway. So the only way left is to (literally) beat some sense in to the Bat. And if the Killing Joke is any proof, Alfred, ahem, I mean, the Joker does make batman laugh.
- Joker’s Origins are Impossible to Find
Here’s the big dispute. Where did the clown prince of crime come from? Was he a guy pushed into a vat of acid? Was he a soldier of fortune? D. None of the above! Those were all random stories. This is a classic villain technique. You tell exaggerated stories of where you came from so that you get more street cred or fear around your name. All Alfred had to do was slip a few criminals a c-note or two to start talking about the Joker’s past. And it would explain how even the Batman can’t trace his foe’s history.
Now for the Counterarguments:
But the Joker is insane! Alfred has it completely together.
I never said Alfred wasn’t crazy.
Bruce Wayne fools dozens of people with the Wayne act every day. Who says that Alfred isn’t doing the same? I think that Alfred loses it after seeing Batman in the cowl for the first time. He’s isn’t scared of the costume, he’s scared that Bruce might never emerge from it again. His desperate urge to protect The Batman split him into this Joker personality…and a man obsessed with his ward. And I do mean obsessed. After the first Robin left, Alfred had a chance to be alone with the bat again…until Jason Todd comes along. To get Bruce to himself, Alfred nearly kills the second robin. Regretting it, he doesn’t attack any of Batman’s adopted wards again…until Batgirl. And so on and so forth. In short: Alfred’s insanity translates to Bruce’s protection.
But the Joker was (at this place) while Alfred was (at this place)! How could he possibly pull it off?
Multiple Jokers. Like I mentioned above, Alfred could conceivably expand the Joker mythos by paying several people to talk about his story. What if he paid people to play the joker? Or had a rotating set? It could go down like this:
Alfred: Bob, you will need to be the Joker this weekend?
Bob: Why me?
Alfred: Master Bruce and I are going on vacation to Hawaii.
Jimmy: I could cover this weekend if…
Jimmy: Front row seats to the Lakers game?
Bob: Are you serious?
Jimmy: Take it or leave it.
Alfred: Would now be a bad time to mention that the Joker is going to attack a few basketball teams this week…?
Multiple jokers would also explain how the Joker gets into situations where everyone is certain he is dead yet always pulls through at the last moment. Where does this Joker supply come from? Crazy people, of course! Alfred screens them, trains them and then maybe even hypnotizes each of them into believing that they are the true Joker. Then they’ll either rotate, die or be snapped out of a hypnotic trance and benched until they are needed again. This would ensure that Batman would never have to be without his nemesis.
There you have it. Concrete proof that Alfred is the clown prince of crime. If you don’t believe it, that’s completely fine. But isn’t it fun to think about?