“Everyone thinks they’re the hero of their own story” – Handsome Jack 2015. The story of the Handsome Jack is that of a hero turned into a monster, however Jack thought that he was the hero of his story. Handsome Jack is the “hero” of his story in the game Borderlands the Pre-Sequel, the main villain in Borderlands 2, and a returning character in the game series Tales From the Borderlands. His story in the Pre-Sequel is that of a hero who saved the moons of pandora from being obliterated and thus indirectly saving the planet of pandora, while on this journey Jack encounters betrayal and events that would then send him spiralling down the path of a monster. We then are introduced to the absolute monster that is Jack in Borderlands 2, a monster that will murder anything and anyone to obtain his goal of opening the vault on pandora. To the monster who pretended to have grown past his errors only to return back to his monstrous ways in the Pre-Sequel. The theories, The monster’s body is a cultural body, The monster stands on the threshold of… Becoming the Fear of the Monster Is Really a Kind of Desire, The Monster always escapes, and the monster polices the borders of the possible are going to be the theories that define Jack as a monster.
We are first introduced to Jack’s story in the game Borderlands the Pre-Sequel. Beginning his story he is a well intentioned man with the hopes of bringing peace to Pandora, an alien planet where humans are not the origin species. The hyperion corporation is in charge of scouting out planets for resources and colonizations. Jack views himself as the hero of the story by being the lone force to stand up to the dahl corporation. Colonel Zarpadon representing the mining operation on the moon of Pandora threatens Jack and the Hyperion corporation for stepping foot in their area. During this journey Jack is betrayed multiple times by vault hunters and his friends. His sanity is slowly tested as we see him shift from the hero to the villian. Towards the end of the Pre-Sequel Jack’s face gets burned and scarred with a vault treasure that would give him the ultimate amount of knowledge as well as being able to see briefly into the future. It is here Jack gains the theory of the monster polices the border of possibility. “The monster prevents mobility [Intellectually, geographically, or sexually]”- (Monster theory 1996).
“I Just Bought A Pony Made Of Diamonds Because I’m Rich.” – Handsome Jack borderlands 2 Now in borderlands 2 Jack has ascended to the top of the cooperation through murder and extortion. Jack covered up his scared face with his handsome mask to disguise the damage done and also to hide his symbol of knowledge. Jack shows off how rich and powerful he is even going so far as to finally name himself Handsome Jack. “Fear of the monster is more of a desire” (Cohen 1996) During Borderlands 2 we see Jack truly shine as a villain and his complete transition into a monster. “Vault hunters look for the new vault, the vault hunter gets killed. By me. See the problem here?” – Handsome Jack Borderlands 2. Handsome Jack hires vault hunters to try and find the vault that he saw in his vision on Pandora, but he is really just looking to lure the hunters into a trap to try and kill them. Through this game we also find that Jack held his daughter prisoner, killed his own grandmother, and tons of innocent citizens of Pandora in order to obtain his goal of getting the vault opened himself. The vault was needed to bring out the warrior which would allow Jack to bring what he thinks is peace and order to pandora. Jack’s human body is killed at the end of this game.
“The monster always escapes” While we saw the bodily death of Jack in Borderlands 2 doesnt mean that he himself is dead. That doesn’t mean that he himself is dead. Upon getting into Tales from the borderlands, Jack uploaded his mind to the hyperion super net and made himself the AI for the hyperion corporation. This time targeting an individual named rhys. Here Jack deceives his “new found friends” only using them to get him back into A body he had set aside. Even though Jack had died he was still alive and will continue to return as long as hyperion exists. Jack returns to the same betrayal he received but made himself into an immortal monster with all the same killing tools he had at his disposal before. “The monster’s body is a cultural body”(Cohen 1996) Jack took form in a world of betrayal, ruthlessness, capitalism, and greed that was the hyperion corporation and Pandora. All these issues took into the form that would represent the ultimate monster of Pandora… Handsome Jack
Jack’s origin story of betrayal is what led him to turn into the monster he became. His power, enchantic charisma, and appearance make us desire to be him. Uploading himself into the Hyperion Ai made him immortal and with his access everywhere gave him the ability to always escape. Lastly with the world around him encapsulating his entire character Handsome Jack is indeed a monster matching up with four of the monster theories. The worst part about Jack is that he thought he was the hero the entire time.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
Patt, Matt, director. Game Theory: Handsome Jack, Monster or Misunderstood? (Borderlands 2/The Pre-Sequel!). Youtube, Game Theorist, 2 Apr. 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5onlG_8J18.
Pendikin, Sarjana. Swearing Utterly by the Main Character of Borderlands: the Presequal. Sanata Dharma University.
Sykes, Tom. “Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel’s DLC Lets You Play as Handsome Jack.” Pcgamer, PC Gamer, 3 Nov. 2014, http://www.pcgamer.com/borderlands-the-pre-sequels-first-dlc-lets-you-play-as-handsome-jacks/.
“Tales from the Borderlands Episode 5 – ‘Everyone Thinks They’re the Hero of Their Own Story.’” Tales from the Borderlands Episode 5 – “Everyone Thinks They’re the Hero of Their Own Story.,” Tale Tale Games, 20 Oct. 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IQZevEQW8Q.