"It's cute that you all think you're the heroes of this little adventure, but, you're NOT. Welcome to Pandora, kiddos!"
—Handsome Jack taunting the vault hunters before attempting to blow them up.
Handsome Jack is the president of the Hyperion Corporation, self-declared dictator of Pandora and the main antagonist of Borderlands 2. He also served as the deuteragonist of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.
Why He Rocks
- First and foremost, Dameon Clark did an astounding job voicing Handsome Jack, bring the character to life and even improvising many of his lines. Much to the annoyance of writer Anthony Burch.
- Compared to many video game villains, who lack character or a motivation behind their evil schemes. Handsome Jack has both, the various times when he taunts you over the ECHO net gives him proper character and make him understandable, relatable at times even.
- Compared to the villain of the first Borderlands game, Commandant Steele, who feels disconnected and irrelevant to your journey, Jack makes his presence very well known and made major impact in Borderlands 2’s story.
- He’s always with you throughout your journey on Pandora, he kickstart the story by trying to blow you up with a train full of explosives, talks to you throughout the storyline, mentioning everything from his new pet to how he scooped out someone’s eyes when he besieged New Haven. He foils your plans, creates insidious schemes and even kills important allies of yours, and overall doing a good job on reminding you how much of a threat this seemingly laughin’ jokin’ numbnut actually is.
- At the end of the storyline, not only do you have to fight him, but also fight the Warrior which he’d successfully gained control over. Commandant Steele, on the other hand, dies only after a few seconds after appearing for the first time.
- Jack’s rather perplexing dual nature is what makes him so interesting, he’s both charming and menacing; hilarious and sinister. He can go from light-heartedly joking and taunting you at one moment to threatening to rip out your lungs the next. Somehow these normally clashing attributes managed to co-exist within Jack’s character, and this easily makes him one of the most, if not the most intriguing, complex and human character in the entire Borderlands franchise.
- Jack has a very human drive behind his evil schemes. For instance, he wanted to conquer Pandora to bring much needed order to the lawless borderlands and to enact revenge on the vault hunters who betrayed him. He imprisoned his daughter not only to exploit her power, but also to shield her from the dangerous outside world because he's well aware that many people will attempt to harm her or exploit her abilities as well. This makes it easy to relate to him and makes players either more sympathetic to him or easier to hate him.
- While Jack could be narcissistic and menacing at times, he’s overall a quite hilarious character. He literally bought a unicorn mare made entirely out of diamonds and named it “Butt Stallion”. There’s even a time he’d actually paid you to commit suicide.
- As cruel and amoral he is, Jack actually does have people he cares about. Even though he enslaved his own daughter, Angel and used her for his grand schemes, little details throughout the game does show that he most likely loved her (in his own twisted way). And when you take out his girlfriend, Jack actually shuts up for once, at a loss of words. Also, do NOT mention his wife in front of him.
- Ironically, despite the various atrocities he committed, Jack ended up becoming the most moral character in the entire game. All of his evil-doings are in order to bring peace and order to Pandora—a planet inhabited by nothing but dangerous carnivorous creatures and people who are either too drugged-up and uneducated to even spell the word “pistol” or willingly murders others for the contents of their backpack.
- He even managed to create small pockets of orderly societies, such as Lynchwood and Opportunity.
- Although the game went out of its way to make Jack as hateful of a character as possible, he ended up becoming more sympathetic than people intended him to be. In Borderlands 2, it was shown that he likely lost his wife due to an accident caused by his daughter Angel and his childhood involves being disciplined by a BUZZAXE.
- Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel didn’t exactly improve things. We learned that Jack wasn’t such an evil man in the beginning, he actually cared about saving lives and wanted to do good things, but he was constantly looked down and talked down by superiors who didn’t even bother to remember his name correctly. And when he finally saves the day and accomplishes his goals, his so-called friends and allies leave him for dead. It's unsurprising why Jack became who he is in Borderlands 2.
- As it turns out, it was revealed in Borderlands 3 that Jack wasn't lying about what Angel did to his wife.
- Despite his good intentions, Jack is in no way the hero he claims to be. He still committed countless atrocities against other people:
- He enslaved his own daughter and imprisoned her to her control room for life.
- He murdered countless of people on Pandora in cold blood, dismissing them as merely “bandits”.
- He killed even people of his own company for just getting into his way.
- He performed countless human experimentation with slag. Erik Franks from New Haven, Tiny Tina's parents and Krieg are just a handful of victims of Jack's morbid experimentations.
- Also, his concept of peace on Pandora literally involved laws such as “littering is punishable by death, and complaining about said law is 'verbal littering'”.
- This actually reflect the overarching theme of Borderlands—there are no true heroes or complete villains, merely shades of gray.
- His planetary sized ego and the fact that he liked to hear himself talk too much can make him rather annoying to some players.
- Ironically, Dameon Clark had no faith in the character of Handsome Jack during Borderlands 2’s development, stating that none of his lines were even remotely close to funny. This might explain all the extra effort he put into voicing the character.
- Even by today, Handsome Jack is considered to be the best villain of the Borderlands franchise, many player rejoiced when Jack became relevant again in the Moxxi's Heist of the Handsome Jackpot DLC and claimed that the Calypso twins to be nowhere near as decent villains as Handsome Jack.
- Jack apparently has Heterochromia, his mask was fashioned after this too.
- According to Anthony Burch, “Handsome Jack” was originally supposed to be a placeholder name, and is a reference to the Doctor Who companion Captain Jack Harkness. However, the name proved popular among the production team and they decided to keep it.
- It’s arguable what's the exact reason why Handsome Jack destroyed Mad Moxxi’s Underdome, Moxxi claimed that Jack destroyed it after he believed that he’s cheating on him. However, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel’s story made it more likely that he destroyed it after Moxxi betrayed him and tried to kill him.
- Jack is best described as suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, as he has eight of nine symptoms typically seen on a BPD patient:
- Unstable personal relationships, typically with loved ones.—his rocky relationships with his grandmother and his daughter Angel are enough to prove the point.
- Distorted and unstable self-image.—Jack started going by the name of “Handsome Jack” after getting his scar, and wears a mask to cover it up. He also commissioned multiple golden statues of himself throughout the city of Opportunity, and form such a cult of personality that some of his employees say “Jack as my witness” instead of “God as my witness”.
- Impulsive behaviours that can have dangerous outcomes, such as excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse or reckless driving.—Jack’s plan to control the Warrior, an alien monstrosity that is capable of razing planets, is nothing but reckless. The same goes for his plan to create the Eye of Helios with the Destroyer's Eye without the permission of Hyperion. And his purchase of Butt Stallion and construction of Opportunity are no doubt lavish spendings
- Chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness.—Again, how bored must you be to purchase a living unicorn pony made of diamonds?!
- Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger.—“I’m STRANGLING Mr. Morin for bringing up my wife!”
- Intense and highly changeable moods.—On a good day he punches you in the face to acknowledge your existence, on a bad one he’ll flush you out of an airlock just for disagreeing with his plans.
- Having stress-related paranoid thoughts.—The reason why Handsome Jack lured vault hunters in under the guise of employing them only to kill them is because he was backstabbed by vault hunters before and doesn’t trust them in the slightest. In fact, the multiple betrayals Jack suffered have made him slow to trust and very paranoid, constantly afraid that someone may betray him (which may explain why he have his underlings and robots worship him as a god). Once he murdered four scientists just because he SUSPECTS that one of them is a traitor.
- Extreme reactions to abandonment.—The betrayal of Lilith, Mad Moxxi and Roland lead to his roaring rampage of revenge and devoted the rest of his life to eradicating all inhabitants of Pandora, bandits or not.