Matthew Rossi has an ingenious story concept for the Joker, moving him away from homicidal monomania towards someone who better perpetuates the randomness and chaos he supposedly personifies:
Why did the Joker steal the costume from a local college team’s mascot and wear it while robbing the Gotham Stock Exchange, and for that matter, why did the Joker break into the Gotham Stock Exchange just to steal three stockbroker’s wallets at gunpoint? Why is he paying street gangs to slash the tires of every Audi 5000 in the city?
The Joker as a practitioner of Chaos Theory would completely confound the Detective who relies on following clues to solve crimes and looks for meaning in details. Villains like the Riddler who deliberately leave clues play to Batman’s strengths, but Batman’s attempt to impose order on an intentionally random series of crimes would necessarily fail if not drive him insane.
I love the thought of Batman insisting on drawing meaning out of clues that turn out to be dead ends. He would inevitably become a pathetic conspiracy theorist, like a Tom Hanks who can find something in anything but discovers at the end of the story that there is no Da Vinci Code after all. Sure, it might be a pessimistic conclusion implying that there is no continuity in the world, but it would at least be an authentically Noir ending for that darkest of private dicks.
The built-in metaphor of randomly shuffled playing cards would also make better use of the Joker’s name than merely his being a clown whose special pathology is telling jokes that aren’t funny.