The Joker vs. Lex Luthor: Which Villain Would Win in a Fight?

The Joker in 'The Killing Joke'

The Joker in The Killing Joke | DC Comics

Few comic book villains are as iconic or beloved as the Joker. The appearance of Batman’s arch-nemesis in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad is one of the chief reasons fans couldn’t wait to see it, but the Clown Prince of Crime is far from the only unforgettable baddie to emerge from the pages of DC Comics. Although Jesse Eisenberg’s bonkers take on Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice might have turned off some viewers, the billionaire is among the most enduring foes of that other DC icon, namely Superman. While the infamous reputations of the Joker and Lex Luthor are certainly not in question, what would happen if the two villains turned on each other, as has happened in past interpretations?

With Jared Leto’s Joker and Eisenberg’s Luthor likely set for multiple appearances in the DC Extended Universe, the chances of the two of them forming an unholy alliance — inevitably ending in a double-cross — are pretty strong. Because of the characters’ vastly different priorities and overall philosophies relating to their criminal activity, any resulting feud would essentially epitomize the question of chaos versus control.

After all, the Joker’s anarchist sensibility directly contrasts Luthor’s thirst for power and his ongoing conflict with the Justice League heroes that threaten his manipulative grasp on those around him. Despite this distinction, both he and the Joker have demonstrated ruthlessness and a general disregard for any obstacles that cross their respective paths.

Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns

Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns | Source: Warner Bros.

Yet, while Luthor has endless resources at his disposal that might at first make him appear the obvious victor, the Joker has one indispensable edge. In many popular depictions (The Dark Knight, for example), his obsession with wreaking havoc on Gotham City and Batman in particular gives way to a devil-may-care attitude that shows little concern for any earthly possessions or even his own life. Unlike Luthor, the Joker would be willing to do absolutely anything to win in a hand-to-hand contest to the death. If it meant tearing his own arm off to emerge victorious, the Joker would likely do it, while Luthor’s drive to take down his enemy would be wrapped up in his own sense of pride and self-preservation.

Luthor could show up for battle in the popular mech-suit that he has often worn to fight Superman, but if the rules are allowing each combatant to be armed with weapons of their choosing, one can bet that the Joker would bring plenty of deadly toys to even out the scales. Much like Luthor, the character is known for his meticulous planning and eerie skill in anticipating his enemies’ next moves. Don’t let that “Do I really look like a guy with a plan?” act fool you. Jokers such as Heath Ledger’s are among the most thorough schemers in the DC universe, giving Luthor himself a run for his (impressively large stockpile of) money.

Jared Leto’s terrifying take on the character retained his gleeful love of chaos and detailed approach to outwitting his foes. In that case, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario wherein the Joker isn’t able to come out on top. The character has largely proven himself adept at dodging death, and even a showdown with someone of Luthor’s power probably wouldn’t change that.

Winner: The Joker

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight | Source: Warner Bros.

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