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Around the beginning of The Dark Knight when the Joker confronts the mafia during their meeting, as soon as the Joker walks into the room Gambol shows hostility towards the Joker, however, all the other mafia members are pretty calm. The first words spoken are by Gambol, saying,

GAMBOL: Give me one reason why I shouldn't have my boy here pull your head off.

And then, shortly after the Joker's "magic trick" Gambol shoots up from his seat when the Joker makes a small joke. Lastly, Gambol eventually goes so far as to issue a half million dollar bounty on the Joker's head.

Why was Gambol so hostile and emotional towards the Joker?

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  • 2
    "when the Joker makes a small joke"... did you not realize that this "magic trick" was him murdering the guy?
    – GendoIkari
    Mar 19 '20 at 18:06
  • 1
    @GendoIkari The small joke was about Gambol not being able to give his grandmother a nickel once Mr. Lau sells them out to the police.
    – Charles
    Mar 19 '20 at 18:14
  • It could be as simple as the other mobsters are simply more self controlled and want to hear what the Joker says ... before killing him. Gambol may just be less self controlled than they are.
    – iandotkelly
    Mar 19 '20 at 19:41
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The bank that was being robbed at the beginning is where the mob kept their money; the money that was stolen belonged to the mob.

From the script:

Bank Manager: You have any idea who you're stealing from? You and your friends are dead.

And

Gordon: My detectives have been making drug buys with them for weeks. This bank was another drop for the mob. That makes five banks- we've found the bulk of their dirty cash.

Joker also rubs it in Gambol's face that he stole his money:

And by the way, the suit wasn’t cheap. You should know. You bought it.

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    @GGMG-he-him you can definitely buy handmade suits. I don't think the Joker is someone who would craft his own suits.
    – Nzall
    Mar 20 '20 at 8:10
  • 3
    @GGMG-he-him Nope. Tags in your clothes means you're buying off the shelf, and that's just expensive mass-produced. The really high-end stuff is made for you, by a tailor who measures you personally, and cuts cloth for you personally, and sews it together for you personally. And then whether it has any kind of tags in it is very much the buyer's choice.
    – Graham
    Mar 20 '20 at 11:54
  • 20
    Whether the joker actually bought the suit, or made it himself, is irrelevant... the line "you bought it" most certainly means "you paid for the clothes I'm wearing because I stole money from you". The line works fine even if it's not literally true; if he paid for the suit before stealing the money, etc.
    – GendoIkari
    Mar 20 '20 at 14:32
  • 2
    This answer doesn't explain why Gambol in particular had a beef with the Joker. Presumably the Joker stole from all of the mobsters, but only Gambol was threatening the Joker while the others were ready to listen. Mar 21 '20 at 22:23
  • 1
    @whatsisname Although the there is mention of the other gangsters' reactions in the comments and in one sentence of the question; the question as written does not sound like it is asking why Gambol responded differently than the rest; it sounds like it is asking why he was upset.
    – GendoIkari
    Mar 21 '20 at 22:26
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In-universe, Gambol is meant to represent one of the younger gangs, not the old-world Italian mobsters. He's seen as being more angry and direct than the other gang leaders at the table. They were all likely feeling the same way as Gambol, but decided that trusting the Joker was good for business. Ultimately they were all mistaken, since like Alfred said they didn't understand this man who just wanted to watch the world burn.

The meta-reason I find more compelling: Gambol was played by Michael Jai White, who was also the title superhero in the movie Spawn. Spawn's archenemy is Violator, who is a demon often in the guise of an evil, scary clown. As the Joker is also an evil clown, Gambol's hostility toward him was likely a nod to Spawn.

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  • That would mean Nolan is a fan of the movie Spawn, or the character,or both which seems like a stretch. Though if he ever makes a movie on the character I'll be the first to watch it, which is, of course, is never gonna happen. Aug 31 '20 at 5:58
  • @AnshumanKumar it only really means that the director of a movie knew another major motion picture that one of his actors starred in. He'd be downright negligent if he didn't. Sep 1 '20 at 18:57
  • The man didn't know who Harry Styles was before casting him in Dunkirk. It seems unlikely he would know how or what Spawn is. hollywoodreporter.com/news/… Sep 5 '20 at 3:36
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The way I see it, Gambol just happened to be the guy to speak up first, and it just escalated. Let's walk through their dynamic in this scene:

Edgy clown barges into a meeting full of crime lords dressed exactly like the wackjob who stole their money. It's reasonable for Gambol or any of the other mob bosses to put Joker down. Gambol gives Joker a chance to beg for his life. Joker flippantly suggests a magic trick instead. Gambol sends his right-hand man to handle the Joker, whom Joker KILLS as part of the "trick."

Joker may have impressed the others, but clearly at Gambol's expense. Joker then gloats about the money he stole from them. Gambol gets up to kill Joker but stops out of respect for another mob boss's request to hear Joker out.

Joker starts to explain the deal very disrespectfully, so a vexed Gambol interrupts him: "Freak." Perturbed, Joker goes on to demand a ridiculous fee ("Uh, half") for the ridiculous service of killing Batman. The others laugh it off, but Gambol, in no mood to laugh, calls him "crazy." A little pissed off by that second remark, Joker decides to belittle "little Gambol" by name.

Gambol gets up again and is only stopped by Joker's bombs threatening to kill EVERYONE present. Everyone is scared by or angry at the Joker at this point. Gambol sets a bounty on Joker's head. Anybody could have reasonably done so, but he took initiative because he was insulted the most.

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