Game Theory: Handsome Jack, Monster or Misunderstood? (Borderlands 2/The Pre-Sequel!)

Handsome Jack, Monster or Misunderstood? (Borderlands 2/The Pre-Sequel!)

We're analyzing Jack, the STAR of those games, to determine whether he's truly a monster or just a little misunderstood.

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Scamming the first group of Vault Hunters to open the Vault, so he can mine eridium and use the eridian remnant in it as a powerful weapon, what a champ. He got his stuff hijacked and his plan was in jeopardy, that hero stuff is really weak. He hunts the Vaults for personal gains aswell, just like every galaxy spanning megacorporations do in the franchise's universe (supposedly). Edit: Oh, and he enslaved Angel when she was little, years before the events of the first game.

For me, he's obviously a bad guy from the start, but he didn't have the means to enforce his will at first, and betraying him on Helios was supposed to prevent that, so that he will never get the chance to do so. It obviously had to fail, for foregone conclusion reasons.

Yeah, Lilith was messed up at the end, she's still very bitter about her boyfriend killed, but the others clearly objected.

Hitler was also missunderstood.

What are countless crimes compared to a "noble" goal?

There are no heroes in Borderlands. There are just those that still spare some thought to collateral damage. How can you gleam over the fact that the way Jack planned to go about cleaning up Pandora was good ol'fashioned apocalypse, killing the fighters and bystanders alike. By same logic Zarpedon, the assumed main villain in the pre-sequel, is actually a miss-understood hero. In fact they try really hard to potray her that way. This woman abandoned her old life in a selfless fight to BLOW UP THE MOON to stop Borderlands 2 and beyond from happening. She keeps apologizing while firing the laser, saying it's a necessary evil. Only difference between her and Jack is, Jack doesn't even try to hide his sadism after a point.

I mean anyone who has played as Nisha can tell you she is an unapologetically sadistic, mentally scarred psychopath who enjoys bloodshed above all else. (Honestly, that description fits several of the Vault-hunters.) She and Jack instantly hit it off! Also the part about Jack telling Felicity he doesn't like killing rings untrue considering every time he kills someone in the game he comments it was "oddly refreshing" or something along those lines. What little innocence he might have appeared to have was, in fact, plain inexperience. For me the defining moment in pre-sequel is the air-lock sequence; when Jack murders a bunch of co-workers under the pretense one of them MIGHT be a traitor. Because apparently incarceration is impossible or there is no time or whatever excuse he might come up with. He was always evil, it just got more apparent with time. Also, ANGEL.

tldr; Everyone is an asshole in Borderlands. Jack is just more delusional than most.

Oh, he's a monster. No doubt. Yes, I believe he legitimately thought he was doing the right thing BUUUT at the same time, that doesn't excuse his really shitty decisions.

I mean, I love Handsome Jack (if you couldn't tell by my general interests) but I have no problem admitting that he's a jackass who probably had to die. NOW, I'm NOT all for supporting Lilith and her boring-ass relationship with also kind of boring Roland and justifying whatever (I hate Lilith) BUT yeah, Jack was clearly spiraling downhill for a while (notably after the Meriff tried shooting him in the back, literally). Paranoia's a legitimate thing, guys. It sucks. Not that I'd know.

Killing four guys because one COULD be a traitor, Angel, Eridium experiments, his fondness for strangulation... He's pretty much a monster. That being said, there are lots of monsters on Pandora. Jack's just a rich, smart monster with access to advanced technology and a whole army of robots that have his back. To be fair, he KIND of loosens up in Tales from the Borderlands as in.... his murderwatch isn't CONSTANTLY saying "time to kill, time to kill".

So yeah, monster who also might be misunderstood for people who don't see how someone could think their train of thought is entirely legitimate; some bad decisions HAVE to be made (Felicity) but for time-bomb Jack, those decisions just reflect poorly. He might've turned out different had things been a little different but what we got and what we see is a haughty megalomaniac who's a jackass and entertaining as hell. Even if he killed my bird. Asshole.

Also Dameon Clarke's voice MAKES the character. GOD, I love that man.

Edit: Ohhh no wonder I've seen this before. It's been a video for a few months, now. ...Huh.

The problem I have is how this wasn't even a question until 2K stepped in and did the same villain worship b-crap with Jack in The Pre-Sequel that they did with Andrew Ryan in Bioshock 2.

I've commented before that winning the lottery doesn't cause people to want stupid things or make bad decisions. They already do those things. Money simply amplifies the power they can apply to their bad decisions. The impotence of poverty is perhaps the best protection we have against the stupid and depraved.

Jack is an extreme version of that. He was always a psychopath. He just lacked the opportunity to murder in a consequence-free scenario. He didn't have the resources to inflict his evil whims on everyone else. As soon as he got rich, the trouble really started. Forget killing one guy at a time, with this money he can kill millions! Oh sure, Pandora is a shithole populated by cannibalistic psychos, violent, money-grubbing mercs, and inbred morons. Order isn't a bad idea in and of itself. But is a smoking crater really the best option?

Morality gets a handwave at best in this series. The game is essentially a cartoon that hypes ultraviolence. Vault Hunters kill everyone. What would you say the body count is if you complete BL2? Forget the trail of dead native life forms and any paroxysms you cause the ecofreaks, let's just talk humans. It's got to be somewhere near a thousand guys. Imagine that, killing a thousand guys to keep the lid on some cosmic sarcophagus that might not even exist. In the real world you're called a monster if you kill even one. Claptrap lampshades this early on: "Vault Hunter! What are you DOING?? Those were real men, with lives and families -- nah, I'm just kiddin'! Screw those guys!" They're just cardboard cutouts, man. Only what YOU want matters. Classic sociopath behavior.

Personally I like Jack as an inveterate murderous psychopath. Seeing his story adds depth, but it doesn't change the fact that by the start of BL2 he's essentially the Joker with Bruce Wayne's fortune. The wealth to do anything, and absolutely zero moral compass to control it. Oh, the fun we'll have.....

Wow. Where to start with this one? I love Game Theory, but this is the first one I have to completely disagree with you. The primary problem is that this theory glosses over so many finer points. Jack wanted to save millions on Elpis? My read on that has always been that those millions of lives saved were in fact merely a side benefit of Jack's true goal, saving Elpis' vault from being destroyed and kept from him (my read of the story was also that Zarpedon was far more of a hero than Jack, willing to sacrifice millions, and herself, to save far more down the road). Jack wants to make Pandora a paradise? Sure, by slaughtering ANYONE he deems unfit for his new paradise, regardless of who they are or what they've done, meaning millions will die as he scours the world of undesirables to make way for his gleaming paradise.

One of the primary themes of Borderlands 2 was of imperialism, and how imperialists think they have the locals' best interests at heart, but in fact they are greedy, megalomaniacs who want to impose their values on others, no matter how much pain and death they cause in doing so. Jack is the ultimate imperialist, wishing to purge the world, killing millions to make the world "safe".

I also would argue that we do not know Jack saw his death in the visions in the vault. In fact, given the fragmented way in which the vision is presented and the fact that no such visions of his death are ever even shown, it seems likely that he did not see it, instead merely seeing what the vault contained, i.e. the Warrior.

The Pre-Sequel was not a game about Jack moving from hero to villain. I see him as a villain when the game starts. This is a man who might have some altruistic ideas, but has already enslaved his own daughter, manipulated the original vault hunters into opening the original vault so that Jack could get at both the Destroyer and the Eriudium so that he could take control of them, all for his own gain and twisted vision of order and stability. During the game, he murders several of his own scientists, just because someone mentioned offhand that one of them could, in theory, possibly, be a spy. He has created a planet destroying super weapon, killed an AI that was begging for her life, and afterwards he was interested only in the product of this most recent murder and THE FREAKING COLOR OF HIS NEW ROBOT.

In fact, now that I think about it, Jack's reaction to the murder of Felicity is a perfect representation of how Jack views... everyone. Resources to be used and modified as he sees fit. Just look at Opportunity. His gleaming utopia on the horizon, allowing on the best in, and even then only so that they can populate what amounts to a shrine to Jack. Opportunity does not exist so that people can have a nice place to live. It exists so that people that Jack approves of can go there and worship him.

I'm going to wrap this up rather than write a thesis, but I do believe I could make a fairly extensive piece on how Jack is every imperialist our world has ever had that has slaughtered their way through natives in the name of PROGRESS. Jack is not a hero. That is falling for his hype. Pandora is a lawless, chaotic place, but there is no warranting the murder of innocents, slavery and segregation so that one man can attempt to become a god and build a world in his own image.

Rot Krieg:
Wow. Where to start with this one? I love Game Theory, but this is the first one I have to completely disagree with you.

Really? Not the "Megaman's True Villain" one?

Rot Krieg:
In fact, now that I think about it, Jack's reaction to the murder of Felicity is a perfect representation of how Jack views... everyone. Resources to be used and modified as he sees fit. Just look at Opportunity. His gleaming utopia on the horizon, allowing on the best in, and even then only so that they can populate what amounts to a shrine to Jack. Opportunity does not exist so that people can have a nice place to live. It exists so that people that Jack approves of can go there and worship him.

I'd say the greatest example of this is the entirety of the "Wildlife Exploitation Preserve" section, something this Game Theory didn't even mention.

Okay, first off, if Jack was ever a hero it was sure as hell a long time before even first game took place, he was already enslaving his daughter and manipulating the original vault hunters to kill the destroyer so he could use pieces of it to build a superweapon.

Jack is unquestionably bad even on Pandora, and that's pretty fucking impressive.

 

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