The following is extremely geeky. I wrote this after my second viewing of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. I understand how ridiculous it may seem for me to make such an analysis of a super-hero film, but The Dark Knight is more Christopher Nolan than Bob Kane. Its themes are products that have been followed throughout Nolan's films; obsession, deceit, and perspective are three of the most apparently reoccurring. Therefore, my analysis is one of a theme vehicle found in a Christopher Nolan film, not one found in comic book characters. Even though I'm using Batman and The Joker to illustrate what Batman Begins and The Dark Knight have created for its theme of Order and Chaos, I am excluding anything that these characters are and have done in any work (medium) that is outside these two films. My exposition will precisely limit itself to the plot of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight; but this may include expounding logical speculations based on what's provided by each film's plot.
Now to say more on the ridiculous nature of my subject, my advice to the reader who could not, for a moment, open his/her mind passed the fact that I am talking about Batman and The Joker--Who cannot maintain that Order and Chaos are my real subjects and Batman and The Joker are simply avatars to these concepts--My advice to the reader would be, to read my analysis and regard the source material as mythology. Pretend you're reading an essay about the themes found in a myth starring Zeus and Cronos. Pretend I'm comparing and contrasting Osiris and Anubis. And why not? Comic Books are in fact the obvious descendants of Mythology, the Gods of this and that have been replaced by the heros of this and that, both with supernatural powers or extraordinary capabilities based on various motives. This might help you to understand that its what the characters represent within there stories that I am interested in, not the characters themselves.
I DON'T WANT TO KILL YOU--YOU COMPLETE ME!
When An Unstoppable Force Meets an Immovable Object
In the Gotham before The Batman, corruption was a permeable entity, deeply embedded within the infrastructure of the city. So bad, was this corruption that a certain League of Shadows wished to destroy Gotham in order to restore balance and allow for a new beginning. Like God seeing what Man had become and deciding to remedy the ills of the earth with water, a cleansing of Gotham is what The League of Shadows sought to supply. This did not occur and the failure of Ra's Al Ghoul became the birth of Batman.
Batman from that moment on, became the drastic catalyst to evolve Gotham's Justice against Corruption. To understand the extremity of that Justice, you must consider that the state of Gotham before Batman was introduced, was a state beyond the reach of any conventional means to tip the imbalance. The imbalance being Corruption overwhelming, thus outweighing Justice. The city's judicial-criminal imbalance created Batman, one drastic extreme created the other. Had the scales met closer, had the difference between "what was to be fought" and "who was there to fight it" not been so radical, perhaps Bruce Wayne could have contended himself as a law official-- a lawyer, or possibly district attorney over time. And perhaps he could've gone this route within the Gotham he in fact, knew--the one that created The Batman and consequently, The Joker. There were probably other ways of helping Gotham City but such success from these less extreme methods were nowhere near manageable, at least not by the time frame that Bruce Wayne could endure the innocent preyed upon by predators. Remember that, Bruce was orphaned by such a predator, psychologically altering the then, ten year old boy forever.
Gotham, as introduced to Batman had reacted as Batman had hoped; the introduction to an extreme method caused an immediate redistribution of weight. Corruption had finally been moved, a force had appeared with the key amount of mass and velocity. Batman was an amplification within an uneven formula, he was either the increase of force, mass, or velocity. Note, he was in fact a hyper-amplification, exceeding reasonable into the realm of extreme. So the scales did not balance out. Equilibrium is, however, not what Batman seeks.
Just as Gotham's escalation of Corruption led to the escalation of the force necessary to combat it, namely Batman; this force in itself being an imbalanced escalation caused another escalation. The Joker is to Batman, what Batman was to Gotham's Corruption, an extreme reaction. Batman represents an Order through a force necessary to redistribute imbalanced weight. The Joker is a product of this Order--as the order itself is a hyper-amplification that does not support equilibrium, rather just another imbalance. Plainly, Gotham is so strongly attacked by an avenging hero, who preys on criminals who have no means of fighting back--just as the innocent before Batman, had no means of fighting back against the corrupt--Gotham, under this imbalanced state produces another reaction.
The Joker is Batman's antithesis, he is a counterpoint; equally as smart, resourceful, and fearless. Fear is an important factor in Batman's methods which The Joker, as the name alone should imply, does not take at all seriously. And here is where the escalation stops or is temporarily balanced. Because Batman, regardless how extreme a force, is still governed by a rule. This rule is like a law to his method and because of it, he refuses to be judge, jury, and executioner of the corrupt. Batman's function is to move the immoveable, without balance--as the extreme reaction to the imbalance that created him. However, his aim is to create Order but Order has limits and boundaries. The Joker has no rule. Earlier I described Batman as an increase to either force, mass, or velocity; this was the cause of the uneven formula of the judicial-criminal state of Gotham--The Joker's function is to even out the equation; ironically, it is his chaos that produces order to Gotham.
Batman won't kill The Joker and The Joker won't kill Batman. Batman is in fact the creator of the extreme Order The Joker wishes to disrupt by instilling Chaos. He needs Batman to create more Order to enable him to create more Chaos. The relationship is symbiotic, as in turn, further the Chaos, further the Order.. Escalation would occur if Batman were to kill The Joker or vice versa but as long as both are in their current state, there is a balance to Order and Chaos.
Before Batman, Gotham City was not at its environmental equilibrium. Batman was an extreme solution to an extreme problem, this resulted in nothing more than shifting the balance unevenly once again but in the opposite direction, so Justice out-muscles Corruption. The Joker is the final agent that balances the solution. He is the immovable object to the unstoppable force. This equilibrium, once initialized cannot be broken--in the case that it is, only extreme imbalance can result.
As even when Batman's influence on Gotham's law officials escalates them into able enforcers to finally balance the Corruption that created Batman, even here Batman must remain a part of the formula. One would deduce Batman as unnecessary at the point when Justice and Corruption are finally, fairly matched. However, The Joker will not cease Chaos simply due to the absence of Order. Without Batman, Gotham's law officials would face yet another force beyond their means of combating; much as Corruption was before The Batman.
With Batman as an agent of Order and The Joker (and all the maniacs that follow his example) as an agent of Chaos, Gotham is now established into a "normal" state. The city can now battle Corruption due to those who have gained the resources to fight against it; but this remains possible insofar as the force that brought about this redistribution of weight continues to protect this Order. Especially since, there is overwhelming and potentially overweighing Chaos that consistently continues attempts at destroying Order. Better stated, Batman saves Gotham but he has to fight the freaks since he is a freak; and more so because the freaks are an escalated reaction to him and only him.
Where does Harvey Dent/Two-Face fit into all this Order/Chaos mess? Well, Harvey is the representation of chance; he also happens to be Batman's other half. He's a district attorney as Bruce Wayne might've been under simpler circumstances; he accomplishes during the day what Batman growls and grovels for at night; he's even dating and possibly marrying Bruce Wayne's love interest. Harvey Dent is a non-extreme who becomes an agent of extreme Order. My apologies for the unavoidably cheesy line approaching--Harvey is The White Knight, Batman is The Dark. The escalation of Gotham is what causes Harvey Dent to become Two-Face; the evolution of balanced Order and Chaos within Gotham calls for extremes to strictly pertain solely to their corresponding agents. Extreme Gotham is a playground only Batman and The Joker may play in, everyone else enters at their own risk. Harvey as a non-extreme agent of Order, in a city that currently calls for more extreme methods does not and cannot stand against Chaos. He bends, he coils, he is distorted. Harvey eventually is twisted into an escalated version of himself, as an extreme agent of Justice (not Order). His faith in his previous moral code has been stained and discovering a flaw, Harvey develops its correction. This correction is what grants him entrance to the playground, to Extreme Gotham. And operating under Chance, which is Chaos working through Order, Two-Face illustrates an interesting possibility.
Previously I wrote that escalation would arrive instantly, once again to the balance of Order and Chaos, if Batman killed The Joker. Well, Two-Face is what Batman would become if he killed The Joker. Harvey Dent was the lighter, brighter side of Batman; Two-Face is the darker, heavier possibility to a Batman that would escalate his methods, by disregarding his law that creates the temporary stand-still of power between Order and Chaos. This new hyper-amplification, by the way, would also inspire a Chaos reactionary force far above The Joker, one maybe that, Order might not be able to balance.
Gotham for the time being is at a judicial-criminal balance. That is until Batman or The Joker becomes Two-Face. Meaning, that is until Order or Chaos finds a flaw within its modus operandi. At that point a cycle renews and either Justice or Corruption will be overwhelmed and overweighed by the other. As extreme as the current homeostasis can be called, could we imagine an escalation from it? How much weight on either side can a scale hold, before the weight snaps the chain and falls? And without a counter balance, the opposite weight ends in the same spot as its antithesis; is this to say that escalation will eventually lead to a point where Order and Chaos are indistinguishable? Would this not imply a neutrality usually found at a point of origin or a restructured default state; very similar to what The League of Shadows intended for Gotham, before failing at the success of Batman.