“I think the position Ash has taken is a tough one, and credit to her – it’s hard to defend a character who wouldn’t exist had their nemesis not been created first. And I love the Joker – he’s actually my favourite enemy of Batman’s – but you have to have the ultimate hero before you get the ultimate foil for them. The reason so many people love the Joker, in my opinion, is because of Batman – compared to him, a lot of superheroes are plain boring.
“Batman has been loved for over 80 years, but I also understand that, after all that time, people can grow tired of cheering for the same hero, so they gravitate towards the villains. In terms of me as a performer, though, I feel like Batman is the best representation of those of us who get up on stage; this is a guy who doesn’t have any superpowers, and like a lot of kids who want to be rock stars, he doesn’t possess these flawless talents that amaze everyone. There are virtuosos, sure, but many of us in the rock community are people who grafted hard and taught themselves these skills. We made ourselves into good musicians, and Batman is the same; he created this heroic version of himself, despite being scared of what came with it, in order to defend the downtrodden and avenge the death of his parents.
“Thinking about my emotional connection to Batman, my Andy Black record The Shadow Side is a musical reflection of what he is – it’s about having a dark side that you use for good. That’s something I’ve wanted to do since the early days of Black Veil Brides, and it feeds into the whole Andy Six character I created and the make-up and costumes I wore. Similarly, Batman is the one guy in the Justice League who doesn’t have any superpowers, so he has to do things differently, work harder and be smarter than everyone else in order to be a hero.
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“It’s hard for me to understand why anyone would consider the Joker a character worth looking up to, because he’s a homicidal maniac who destroys lives. I get the appeal from an aesthetic standpoint – people dress up and cosplay as him and Harley Quinn, and that’s cool – but from an emotional perspective, I feel like Batman has the greater journey. I was an only child who felt lonely growing up, and that meant I could associate with the situation Batman was in; he was a brooding loner and, especially in the Tim Burton films, kind of a weirdo. I genuinely believe Batman is one of the greatest characters of the entire American literary canon.
“I understand that, from a psychological perspective, the Joker is a complex character that some people feel sympathy for, but there are versions of him that are just plain horrible. I’ve been in that place, especially in my drinking days, where I’ve related to the hate he has for others, because Black Veil Brides used to get a lot of shit; I famously mooned thousands of people at Download Festival, and that was me playing up to the court jester and pissing people off in the way the Joker does. Again, it’s important to say that I do like the Joker – I have a Joker tattoo, so I clearly don’t hate him – but Batman is just better.
“I’m really intrigued about the new film and the more empathetic take on the Joker they seem to be going with – it’s important to analyse how our culture and society can have serious negative effects on people. We shouldn’t simply vilify people when they snap – we need to try to understand what’s gone wrong for those that are struggling. So, yes, the Joker is a great character, but Batman will always be my guy.”