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In The Dark Knight the Joker kidnaps Rachel and Harvey Dent. He then tells Batman he'll need to choose who to save, and gives him two address:

He's at 250 52nd Boulevard. And she's on Avenue X at Cicero.

Just after this Batman declares his intention to save Rachel and he and Gordon race off to the indicated addresses. However, when Batman gets there, Harvey is the one at that address and Batman saves him instead.

Although I certainly wouldn't put it past the Joker to intentionally mislead Batman and show him where his weaknesses lie, he also likes to play it loose and might have left those details up to his henchmen.

Is there anything to indicate whether this was an intentional misdirection on the Joker's part, or if he was simply ignorant of who was where?

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    Totally misled, the joker is all about mind games, he would never let any of the henchmen screw something up. I doubt he would let the henchmen have that much input anyway. – CandiedMango Apr 28 '14 at 15:40
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    @Simon: I totally agree. The joker was misleading everyone throughout the movie. The ferry, the hostages, etc. If you don't turn that into answer, I (or someone else) will... – djm Apr 28 '14 at 15:48
  • The answer to this question takes it as fact that the Joker lied, but doesn't expand upon that point at all. Not sure if that's sufficient for this to warrant being closed as a duplicate. – Anthony Grist Apr 28 '14 at 15:56
  • Another related question I asked about Joker's intended actions scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/38063/… regarding ferry detonations – KharoBangdo Apr 29 '14 at 9:06
  • Watching the movie for the fifth time, now, the scene where Harvey Dent screams out "RAACHHEELL!" is just hilarious. – Mr Pie Jul 13 '18 at 0:59
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Joker's whole idea was to turn Harvey into a monster, NOT into a martyr. AND to hurt Batman personally (probably turning him into a monster). Both goals would be undermined if Batman saved Rachel and let Harvey die.

So he likely did the misdirection intentionally; counting on Batman to put more of an effort to save his "girlfriend" (who ends up being Harvey) than other rescuers.

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    Except the joker says himself that he isn't "a schemer." My personal theory is that he did mix them up intentionally, but just because it would be another way to mess up any plans they made, and other than that didn't particularly care about the outcome. – user24382 Apr 28 '14 at 20:44
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    @user24382: rule 1: the Joker lies. – Paul D. Waite Apr 28 '14 at 21:26
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    @user24382 The Joker's past actions just in this movie says he is a schemer. – Wayne In Yak Apr 28 '14 at 22:00
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    The Joker is an anarchist. All of his plans involve some sort of deception. As the character says in multiple comics; "That's the joke!" The reason for this deception is revealed in the film when Joker tells Dent his opinion of schemers. None of that precludes the Joker scheming or lying himself. In fact, the very first act, where the Joker murders his own henchmen and robs the mob bank, shows him to be quite the consummate schemer and liar. – James Sheridan Apr 29 '14 at 1:02
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    The joker is a total schemer. He preaches anarchy whilst being a total control freak within... – Stark07 Apr 29 '14 at 8:53
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The Joker is a Criminal Mastermind in the movie series. It is not possible for The Joker to be ignorant of the facts considering he is a Criminal Mastermind and plotted nearly everything in the film. The Joker's plan was to force Batman to choose only one to save, most likely knowing that it wasn't possible to save both even if Batman had told the police where the other was located. Thus he lied and told Batman that Rachel was at the location where Harvey actually was, he used the knowledge that Batman had a thing for Rachel considering he saved her when she was thrown out of a window earlier in the film (which I believe made him suspect that he Batman might have been Harvey Dent as well at that point).

Overall The Joker tried to corrupt and introduce chaos into Gotham. His only true success was of Harvey Dent, which he admitted at the end of the film that Batman was truly incorruptible but that Harvey was no longer "The White Knight". He said that Harvey was his Ace in the hole to show Gotham that everyone is corruptible.

So The Joker completely mislead Batman so that his plans would come to fruition.

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I have thought about this a lot, and I believe this to be the Joker's single greatest victory in his crusade to prove that even Batman is prone to selfishness and weakness. In his mind, this is a battle for Gotham's soul and objectively Batman and the Joker know the "right" choice for Gotham is to sacrifice his personal attachment. By deliberately giving Batman the wrong address he is giving Bruce the agency to make the hard choice and in that goal he succeeds spectacularly in the philosophical war. The Joker is all about enabling people to make their own choices and reveal their true corruptible nature (hence his boat exercise at the end), by giving Batman a choice he knows that he gets one of two outcomes:

  1. If Batman chose the place he believes Harvey Dent is, he will have been unsuccessful in his attempt to bring Batman down to everyone else's level, but Bruce will have to live with saving Rachel but knowing that he had been willing to sacrifice her (ruining much potential for Bruce Wayne ever having the happy ending he wants). In addition the Joker gets to blow up Harvey Dent and cripple Gotham's chances at a future without Batman, setting up a future of continued battling between him and Batman for years and years to come (something I think he would love). This would have been a major setback for the Joker in a lot of ways, he wouldn't have gotten to show everyone that Dent wasn't corruptible, and he would have failed to corrupt Batman. The Joker likely would have been upset by this, and would have had to formulate a new plan and regroup to win how he wanted to.

  2. If Batman makes the selfish choice and goes for Rachel, the Joker gets to punish him for being selfish by taking Rachel from him and proving he isn't as strong willed as he claims to be, and simultaneously breaks the unbreakable Harvey Dent.

The brilliance of the Joker is all of his actions force anyone he comes into contact with to gaze into an ugly mirror and face uncomfortable truths about themselves. At the beginning of the dark knight every character is refusing to face a reality. Bruce won't admit he knows that he can't ever have a future with Rachel, The Mob refuses to admit that Batman has changed organized crime in Gotham forever, Gordon won't do anything to reconcile the fact that he likely has corrupt cops in his ranks, and Rachel won't be honest with Bruce that she doesn't have a future with him. The only two who we find in a place of self understanding at the Beginning are the Joker himself and Harvey Dent, and so the Joker sees him as the most legitimate threat to his crusade (hence his incredible efforts to break him). I think the lying about the addresses was a deliberate test of Batman's will.

  • It is plausible, certainly. But is there any evidence of this in film? – Adamant Oct 20 '16 at 21:46
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While this question already has an accepted answer that I agree with, all of the current answers subscribe to the idea of the Joker misleading Batman on purpose. I'd like to play devils advocate, so to speak... It is possible that the Joker has mixed the addresses up accidentally.

In fact, the scene opens up with him receiving a sharp blow to the head and commenting:

"Never start with the head, the victim gets all fuzzy"

Referring to loss of physical sensation. This could also refer to trauma clouding the victims thoughts. The initial blow and several more punishing blows to the skull later, it's plausible that he's a little confused. At 3:40 in the scene, he appears to be struggling to recall the full address that "she" is at. It's not a great leap to say that after all the head trauma he may be a little concussed and/or confused by this point in the polite conversation, and that in this state he could have conceivably mixed up the addresses.

  • I know you’re playing devils advocate and it is well explained but I don’t really buy this theory. Plus one anyway for the alternate way of thinking about it, it’s an interesting interpretation. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 12 '18 at 18:37
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I don't see any indication in the movie which could provide a conclusive answer for this. One explanation is what's given by the highest rated answer by DVK above. The only catch is that it assumes that Joker somehow knew that Batman would go to save Rachel. But there's no evidence that Joker knew about Batman/Bruce and Rachel relationship or that Batman was Bruce. The "Batman jumping off the window to save Rachel" doesn't make a convincing argument because Batman would probably do that to save any innocent person and being Harvey's gf makes her even more important. Another explanation would be that the Joker did that to add an element of chaos and confusion. It will most definitely lead to Batman not being able to save the person he wanted to save the most (out of the two). If that person really mattered a lot to Batman, it'll really hurt him even more.

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I have a different take on this. Batman sacrifices Rachel.

Batman and Gordan both arrives at the same address. Batman is faster - as he knows he is - and he sacrifices Rachel. He tell's Gordon to go after Harvey, because there is no time to argue about leaving Rachel to die. Gordon's functions is as a back-up, so they both end up going after the key figure in saving Gotham - Harvey.

I do not think Batman ever intended to save Rachel, he knows that the most important thing to do is to save Gotham, and is quite capable of self-sacrifice. After all, he also sacrifices his image and persona just minutes after.

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    That doesn't really make sense if Batman knew that he was faster the reason he went after Rachel was because he knew that he could save her. His whole intent was to save Rachel, but since he got there and The Joker had tricked him he ended up saving Harvey instead. – DoctorWho22 Apr 29 '14 at 13:03
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If we will assume 3 things:

  1. That the Joker did not know Rachel and Batman have a romantic involvement,
  2. That the Joker intentionally misled Batman with the location of the hostages and
  3. That the Joker assumes that the one Batman will NOT choose to go for is the one who will die,

then the safest conclusion we can draw is that the Joker's intention for misleading Batman was simply to foil his (Batman) plans by killing the one he thought would be right to save.

Either way, it is a 'win-win' for the Joker since if Batman chose Rachel: Joker hurts Batman and creates a monster in Harvey. If Batman chose Harvey: Joker hurts Batman and kills Gotham's 'hero' in Harvey. He thwarts Batman either way. This is consistent with the "you complete me" statement. Joker is obsessed with Batman and his adversity with him that he sees everyone else as pawns in their game.

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Joker said Harvey were at 250 52nd Street and Rachel at Avenue X at Cicero.

THE JOKER: He's at 250 52nd Boulevard. And she's on avenue X at Cicero.

Batman said he was going for Rachel which means he headed for Avenue X at Cicero where he found Harvey which means Harvey was actually at Avenue X at Cicero and Rachel was at 250 52nd Street.

This fact is confirmed later in the movie when Harvey kidnaps Gordon's family and takes them to 250 52nd Street and says that its the place where his family (read Rachel) died.

GORDON: Where are you? Where's my family?

DENT: Where my family died.

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