Recently I finished the fourth episode of Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within and I can honestly say that I’m still a bit surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed this journey (so far). Don’t get me wrong, I love the Batman universe and I’m also a Telltale fan (especially The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead season 1) but I was a bit scared that these two elements wouldn’t go well together. I was wrong. I feel like the Telltale crew really took a chance and went for it. They turned a famous story into something unique, a story that has been told so many times that it can easily repeat itself or get redundant. They’ve managed to give Batman a refreshing new taste without destroying the classic details… and I love it! That’s why I wanted to take this opportunity and talk more in-depth about John Doe. This is my love letter to my favorite version of the Joker (who really isn’t even the Joker yet).
(! Warning: some spoilers if you haven’t played the game)
When you meet John in the first season, you really don’t know anything about him or why he’s around. You have no idea if he even is the Joker or just a copycat. Every minute at Arkham Asylum is creepy and you end up hovering over your seat in fear that he will snap at any second. You can sense the Joker being in there, itching to get out from the mask he’s wearing as John. Whether you make that promise or not, you know that you’ll see him soon again. And when you do, you slowly realize that this is the moment where you start to shape the path of your future enemy.
According to Telltale, making various choices will lead to the creation of a certain Joker. So you can either make him even more mental than he is now or create something “softer”. Of course, both ways lead to destruction in the end. But the fascinating thing is that you can at least try to influence John to make better choices. It’s fun to see him try to be a decent human being. He’s like a little kid who feels lost and alone in the big world, in need of a friend. John adores Bruce and this is a relationship we haven’t really seen before. It’s always been Batman and Joker, not Bruce and “John”. Because in this view, he has so many sides. He appreciates friendship and values loyalty (or so he says) and he even feels love at one point. He plays dumb and silly, is too loud for his own good and always tries to swallow that crazy laughter so it won’t get out of hand. It’s a new dimension of the Joker that I haven’t thought about before. Of course, he was someone before ending up the way he did. He was a normal person, then he started to turn into someone (or something) else that he tried to control. It’s a nice change of pace to see John contemplate his actions, to care for something (even if it’s “his” way of caring).
As a player, it’s hard to hurt John as he really becomes a friend. Compared to all the other bad guys, John always seems to be the “least” dangerous. He is just there to fool around and have fun. We all know though, that he uses that innocent to hide something really horrible. I, of course, went with the friendship route and ended up getting the least bad Joker, so I’m curious to see how bad he truly becomes in my version. I’m glad that Telltale decided to put the Joker on the side in the first season, only to slowly build him up in the second. How will it all end I wonder?
Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to show Anthony Ingruber some appreciation. He is the voice actor of John Doe and does one hell of a job giving his own spin to the character. Apparently Telltale found Anthony’s Joker impressions on Youtube and asked him to audition. He tried out both the Mark Hamill, Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger version, but ultimately got picked thanks to his own mixed creation! How cool is that? I highly recommend you to check out some of his interviews! They’re very entertaining!
I will actually end my post with a question:
Anthony Ingruber: How crazy do you have to be in real life in order to portrait such an iconic character? 😉