Brow Beat

Don’t Prosecute Gotham’s Supervillains for Their Latest Scheme

Any attempt to bring the Joker to justice is likely to fail or backfire.

The Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, and the Joker looking shocked in a still from the 1966 Batman movie.
“Curses! The consequences of our own actions!” Twentieth Century Fox

It’s been a traumatizing couple of weeks in Gotham City, full of unthinkable violence and chaos. We’ve all seen the appalling footage: the exploding shark, the pier bombing, and the United World Organization building—until last week, a powerful symbol of the democratic hopes of the entire world—being invaded, vandalized, and defiled by the “United Underworld,” an alliance of the city’s most dastardly criminals: Catwoman, the Penguin, the Riddler, and even the Joker, the coolest supervillain of them all (although his role in the plot was very minor or maybe even nonexistent, from what I’m hearing). People across Gotham are frustrated and angered, and the vicious, unwarranted vigilante attack launched by so-called crime fighters Batman and Robin against the crew of a whimsically decorated Navy surplus submarine in Gotham Harbor did nothing to lower the emotional temperature.

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Now it appears that Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara are planning to bring criminal charges against the ringleaders of the United Underworld. This is a grave mistake. Our great city should be looking forward right now, not dwelling on the past. A trial would only dredge up traumatic memories and evidence of the terror unleashed by the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, and possibly others. Criminal trials should not occur in the heat of the moment, if ever, and I fear that investigating this shameful incident any further would only be inflammatory and incriminating. We could waste months looking into exactly which supervillain used a stolen piece of distillery equipment to dehydrate all nine members of the Security Council as part of a deranged kidnapping plan, but would that do anything to improve the life of the average Gothamite? In the spirit of healing and unity, I believe that the members of the United Underworld, especially the Joker, should be released immediately and face no further consequences for their alleged involvement in this plot. Anything less risks angering Gotham’s supervillains and their henchmen further while doing nothing to stop the cycle of super-crimes.

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Make no mistake: The bloodthirsty chorus calling to send the United Underworld to Gotham State Penitentiary for gentle rehabilitation under Warden Crichton’s advanced theories of penology are out for revenge, not justice. You won’t hear them mourning the five henchmen MURDERED by Batman and Robin (after the Penguin smuggled them into the Batcave in dehydrated form and then attempted to rehydrate them using heavy water from the nuclear reactor, leaving them in a highly unstable atomic state). They’re far too busy shaming the United Underworld and their supporters to shed a tear for the real victims. Their cries for accountability—ideally, accountability accompanied by a “POW!” or “THUNK!” or “KLONK!”—are nothing but cancel culture writ large, and we all know how bad that is. Putting the United Underworld on trial will accomplish nothing but making a mockery of our justice system, particularly if we are foolish enough to press charges against the Joker. Making a mockery is kind of his whole thing!

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I pray that cooler heads in Gotham City’s government will prevail over the intemperate “commissioners” and “police chiefs” and “Batmen” and “Robins” who are howling for vengeance. Those lost souls are clearly suffering from Joker Derangement Syndrome—and not the good kind of Joker Derangement Syndrome, like the Joker has, the other kind! There are far better ways to prevent future dehydration/kidnapping plots against the United World Organization than holding the supervillains who organized a dehydration/kidnapping plot against it just a few days ago accountable for their actions. For instance, Chief O’Hara could appoint a group of crime fighters and supervillains to a Bipartisan Commission to Investigate the Circumstances Surrounding the Dehydration and Kidnapping of the United World Organization Security Council Without Doing Anything About It. (You can tell it’s a serious idea because it’s got capital letters in it.) Our city is not just deeply divided; we are deeply hurt, especially those of us who were recently beaten to a pulp by Batman and Robin. But we have an opportunity to come together and set Gotham on a new path by immediately letting the Joker out of prison. Maybe Catwoman, too.

I’m aware that I may not be the best person to deliver this message, given my absurd appearance, my reputation as a supervillain, my incessant giggling, and my deep and well-documented involvement in planning and executing the very criminal scheme I am now urging the city to ignore. As an expert in comedy, however, I can assure the people of Gotham that this is not a joke. Ask yourself one question: What’s the downside for humoring me?

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