President Barack Obama likened the Middle East to Gotham, the fictional metropolis in the Batman franchise, with ISIS acting as the Joker who shows up on the scene and plunges the city into murderous chaos.

Obama’s comments drawing an analogy between the jihadist militant group Islamic State, also known as ISIL, and the comic book villain portrayed by Heath Ledger in Christopher Nola’s 2008 film The Dark Knight, appear in a long-form piece exploring in depth the president’s foreign policy legacy, which The Atlantic published online Thursday.

The cover story by the magazine’s national correspondent Jeff Goldberg, titled The Obama Doctrine, will appear in print in The Atlantic’s April issue.

White House aides speaking to The Atlantic recalled how in meetings Obama would talk about a key scene in the Batman film as a way of explaining his view of ISIS and its role in the region.

‘There’s a scene in the beginning in which the gang leaders of Gotham are meeting,’ Obama would tell advisers. ‘These are men who had the city divided up. They were thugs, but there was a kind of order. Everyone had his turf.

‘And then the Joker comes in and lights the whole city on fire. ISIL is the Joker. It has the capacity to set the whole region on fire. That’s why we have to fight it.’

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