When talking about some of the most powerful and influential characters in either the Marvel or DC franchises it almost feels as though there are a few characters out there that are taken for granted by how they look or how they act, and while it’s fair to state that individuals such as the Joker and Ghost Rider are well-known to many, there are moments when they can surprise people. The penance stare, known as one of Ghost Rider’s greatest powers, has the capability of turning the victim catatonic based on the remorse they feel for the sins they’ve committed. It’s not really Ghost Rider’s most destructive power, but it does carry a serious punch to it since being made to face your sins isn’t easy for everyone, and can mentally and emotionally devastate many people. But there are a couple of weaknesses to it that people don’t always think about, and it’s why characters such as the Punisher, Deadpool, and even Thanos have been able to withstand the stare, even if the fact is that no one is immune to it.
Having one’s past turned upon them in a manner that can be harmful is a seriously impressive attack, but the idea that people can withstand it makes the penance stare feel like less of a sure thing than it might have before learning this fact. There are two main ways that the penance stare can be weathered, and one of them has been shown in the first live-action movie. The second has remained in the comic books unless it’s been seen in the appearance of the Ghost Rider during his time on the show Agents of SHIELD. But the first way is to have no soul since this attack is meant to burn the soul right out of a body when the stare is applied. It feels a bit like plot armor for certain characters, but if there’s no soul then there’s nothing to burn.
The second way a person can withstand the stare is to be without remorse for the things they’ve done, and this brings us to the subject of this article, since as I mentioned, the Punisher and a few others, who aren’t immune to the stare but have still been subjected to it, walked away without any damage. The Punisher has no remorse since he tends to kill mobsters and villains, while to Deadpool it was like watching a highlight reel of his life, though he still had no remorse. One has to wonder if the Joker would be the same way, since there’s rarely, if ever, been anything that might indicate that he has any trouble with anything he’s done in his life. In other words, his soul might not burn because he doesn’t feel bad for anything he’s done. That feels accurate really since the Joker has been such a crazed individual for so long that thinking that he might feel a certain way about might be a serious error because it could be kind of like a repeat of trying to stare down Deadpool, meaning he would shrug it off and possibly laugh about it.
In terms of power, the Joker stands no chance since Ghost Rider has been set upon by some of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe, and despite being taken to the limit by a few and even finding that he wasn’t enough for a select few, he’s so far beyond the Joker in terms of physical power that it would never be a contest. But one of his most effective powers would likely be kind of useless since it’s fair to think that the Joker isn’t really that remorseful, if he is at all, about anything he’s ever done. Some might want to say that it kind of depends on what version of the Joker is being used since Arthur Fleck from the movie version might be able to be reached, and easily neutralized, but someone like the Joker from Tim Burton’s movie back in 1989 doesn’t appear to be the type that might have a lot of remorse for the things he’s done. It’s also very possible that the version from The Dark Knight wouldn’t be affected either since his insanity is bound to be enough to make the penance stare tickle a bit but otherwise do next to nothing. The Joker is simply one of those characters that might be good at planning and might even be sane in his own way, but remorse is not his thing, nor is it in his character to feel anything that might put his soul at risk in a manner that Ghost Rider could exploit. While a swing of Ghost Rider’s chain might split Joker in half, he’d likely die laughing and still be unrepentant to his dying breath.