In the Batman comics, there might be a symbolic connection between Bruce Wayne’s tragic childhood and the personalities of the main enemies of Batman. There are childlike personalities to the original incarnations of The Joker, The Riddler, and The Penguin. The only partial exception is Catwoman. Even though there have been many other villains that Batman fought in later issues of the comics that do not fit in this category, there have always been certain villains that he has fought the most.
One villain that is the hardest for Batman to defeat is always The Joker. The Joker is the the ultimate in childish, but dangerous, behavior. The Joker tells immature and tasteless jokes. The Joker also engages in dangerous practical jokes. Batman’s constant battle with The Joker is Batman’s symbolic battle to get past the grief over his parents being killed in front of a theater. As a result of Bruce Wayne’s parents being killed when he was a child, Bruce Wayne has never fully grown up. Bruce keeps having flashbacks about his parents’ murders again and again. Bruce becomes Batman to fight the Joker, who is a symbol of the tragic child that Bruce still is. Also, like the theater Bruce Wayne’s parent’s were murdered in front of, The Joker is very theatrical.
The Riddler is another villain that represents Batman’s fight against the mystery of his childhood tragedy. Like the Joker, The Riddler is also childish and dangerous in his behavior. Once again, we have a villain who is a symbolic mirror for Bruce Wayne/Batman’s childlike tragedy. When Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, he doesn’t know if he is really Batman, Bruce Wayne, or both. The Riddler makes Batman solve riddles that must be solved for safety reasons. If Batman does not solve The Riddler’s puzzles, death can come to Batman or other people. As The Riddler sends out out childish riddles for Batman to solve, Batman is also solving the riddle of his own identity.
The Penguin is another childlike villain, who plays around with umbrellas. The Penguin’s original incarnation has him as a mobster who owns a nightclub as a front. The Penguin loves birds and has a funny portly penguin look to him. He also has many trick umbrellas that gas and shoot people. The Penguin is like The Joker, but with umbrellas. He also acts like a penguin, making him another whimsical but deadly enemy.
The interesting exception is Catwoman. Even though she is a bit silly dressing up in a cat outfit, Catwoman still refers to herself as a woman and not a girl. Catwoman is also not always a villain. Sometimes, she has a loving relationship with Batman. Because of this, Batman finds a little more of an adulthood with the Catwoman.
One would think that by now The Joker would have ran out of tricks. However, there might be something deeper behind Batman’s constant trouble with the Joker, even if the writers of the comics don’t know it on a conscious level.