Since he was revealed as "Joker" in the Punk Hazard Arc and throughout the Dressrosa Arc, I have been wondering, who EXACTLY is Donquixote Doflamingo? What drives the man? What does he hide behind that smile and unusual flamingo-styled shades?
From what we've seen, Doflamingo is an incredibly twisted individual who accepts the depravity of human beings as being fact and believes that deep down within each individual person a sadistic side craving for blood and death exist. This belief is supported through his treatment of several individuals through the series of One Piece, in particular, Bellamy. Doflamingo's actions of staining the Riku Family's name with hate, shame and disgust also support Doflamingo's acceptance of the sadistic side of humans.
I also want to add that when Doflamingo talked about being the "hero" to save Dressrosa, I got the weird vibe that somewhere within Doflamingo, in just a small part of himself, he has a hero complex. Linking it back to his childhood in Mariejois, which is probably the reason for his twisted outlook on human beings, he may have seen the state of madness in humans through how the Tenryuubito behave/live/see the world and wanted to change such a reality. But being unable to, he left and a part of him may have used Dressrosa to satisfy the desire he had of being a "hero", which most likely became twisted with his experience in Mariejois and possibly any trauma he may have had.
On the other hand though, Doflamingo has shown himself as being a compassionate and grateful Captain to his fellow crew members. He expressed his gratitude to Vergo and Monet for doing what they did on Punk Hazard for his sake as well as his discontent at the situation 'requiring' them to do such things. Doflamingo accepts each of his members regardless of the quirks they have, provides a place for them to be themselves, and even goes out of his way to protect his subordinates - as seen when he went out of his way to destroy eight towns in order to protect Baby 5 from her unique personality quirk. Every single Donquixote Pirate we've seen has shown themselves as being a weirdo of sorts; Baby 5, Buffalo, Gladius, Jora, Sugar, Senor Pink, Mach Vise, Dellinger, Trébol, Diamante and Vergo. Monet didn't really convey a quirky side as extreme and silly as the other Donquixote Pirates, but I suppose she was unusual in the way she reacted to compliments and how she enjoyed licking her lips. Lao G and Pica who we have yet to see most likely have quirky and silly sides to their personality as well.
Doflamingo's crew illustrates that Doflamingo isn't as bad as he is making himself out to be, there is a part of him that does enjoy the company of his crew. This is further illustrated by how his crew members are extremely loyal to him.
Another important element to Doflamingo's character figuring out who he is, is his deal with Kaido. Regardless of what it takes, Doflamingo fears Kaido so much, he would rather risk his title as a Shichibukai and the lives of his crew than continue providing SMILE for Kaido. This begs the question, if Doflamingo isn't afraid of the Marine Admirals (who are quite fearsome in their own right), why is he so terrified of Kaido? What is so fearsome about Kaido that it dwarfs any threat the Marines pose to him. Does his title as a former Tenryuubito really provide Doflamingo with that much comfort against the Marines? Is it really so simple as the Tenryuubito influence not being able to protect him from Kaido that he fears Kaido so much? Would Doflamingo really rely so heavily on his former Tenryuubito title against the Marines? I doubt it, it is more likely that he doesn't fear the Admirals much because they are lacking in some quality which Kaido possesses...as for what quality Kaido possess, guess we'll find out when Kaido reveals himself.
Anyway back to the Donquixote Pirates crew, why does Doflamingo recruit [some] members at such a young age?
From that panel in the flash back of King Riku, Dellinger looks like he is eight years old and Baby 5 looks to be around 12-14 years old. I won't even try to guess how old Sugar is..
Firstly, why would such young children be in the pirate crew and secondly, why would Doflamingo use children in his crew when they are in the New World? Were Dellinger and Baby 5 orphans or something and Doflamingo saved them by taking them in? If so, why would Doflamingo save orphans and then recruit them to join his crew? What were the underlying reasons Doflamingo had for recruiting children to join his crew when he had set his base of operations in the New World, the most dangerous sea in the One Piece world? Regardless of whether Dellinger or Baby 5 had Devil Fruit abilities back then, they were still children and there are limits to what children can do, so I doubt Doflamingo kept them in his crew for just their ability.
Law as well, judging by how he referred to an event 13 years ago which completely changed his view of Doflamingo (whatever happened to Kora-san/Corazón) that he now wishes for Doflamingo's death, it indicates that Law and Doflamingo became acquainted with each other at the very least when Law was 13 years old. We don't know much about Law's past, so Law may have been an orphan and saved/recruited by Doflamingo at some point in his childhood. The interesting thing to note about Law and Doflamingo's relationship is that Law now seeks to completely crush Doflamingo. From a presumably loyal subordinate, who Doflamingo saw as a 'little brother' and a potential candidate for the Donquixote 'Heart' seat, Law now seeks Doflamingo's death. What exactly could have happened to trigger this betrayal? Seeing as how the other Donquixote members are surprised at Law's betrayal, this indicates that they are unaware of what Law knows/has seen concerning Doflamingo. Law was probably like other Donquixote Pirates when he was Doflamingo's subordinate, but that changed when something happened with Doflamingo. Would something similar happen to the rest of the Donquixote Pirates or at least some of them if they learn what Law knows and/or sees the type of person Doflamingo really is?
The element causing the biggest confusion with me is the fact that Doflamingo has the intention of becoming the Pirate King, revealed by Monet in her sincere and genuine farewell to Doflamingo. So far from what we have seen about Doflamingo's character and intention, he is just a bastard who seeks to draw out the worst in people and is primarily concerned with creating chaos which he takes enjoyment in as well as finding amusing and entertaining. Does someone like that really have any interest in becoming the Pirate King, the person said to have the most freedom on the sea? If his partnership with Kaido really is some ploy to create a platform for himself and his dream of being the Pirate King, I will be completely surprised. Sure Doflamingo has the Haoshoku Haki, which does support Doflamingo's potential of being able to compete for the title of the Pirate King, but nothing else really has been shown so far by Doflamingo that he has the intention of being the Pirate King.
Furthermore, would someone who intends to be the Pirate King, really succumb to being some kind of subsidiary to a Yonko? Kaido is in complete control of their partnership, if Doflamingo fails to deliver, Kaido will hunt him down. When you think Pirate King, you think of someone like Luffy, who even without power necessary to match a Yonko, won't submit to them and settle for something less than being the Captain of his ship and adventure. Sure I get Doflamingo isn't as powerful as Kaido and may be using Kaido (and the Marines) to get himself in a position necessary for his goal of being the Pirate King, but the very fact that he intends to submit himself (to both the Marines and Kaido) means that he isn't really 'Pirate King worthy'.
This is why Monet's final statement creates so much confusion in me concerning Doflamingo's character. Monet was so genuine and heartfelt when she made that statement, she believed it completely. Was she aware what kind of man Doflamingo really is and how "inadequate" he CURRENTLY is for the status of the Pirate King? Doflamingo may have been a man filled with dreams and optimism (which Monet may have been recalling in her "final" moments), but such a man no more exist, or at least we haven't seen it, from what we have seen though, he is just a sadistic man interested in creating chaos.
Anyway what are your guy’s thoughts on Doflamingo, what reasons do you think he has for becoming the King of Dressrosa and engaging in a partnership with Kaido. And do you believe he still has the intention of becoming the Pirate King?
It would be interesting if Doflamingo was like Luffy, but became twisted due to several events. Both he and Luffy are charismatic and seem to create loyal crews that are different, and both care about their crew. I think series of events in Doflamingo's life made him twisted, probably related to the Tenryuubito, similarly to Sabo.
I just remembered though, Doflamingo didn't mind having Bellamy, one of his most loyal followers, killed or punished. Maybe he cares deeply about the people he's close with or with high positions? Doflamingo could be a lot like Orochimaru in a way that he wants to see things in motion.
Well, as far as we have seen I don't see how the case can be made that doflamingo has a hero complex. The comment in the page you link is a reference to his plan to take over dressrosa, to the fact that he was going to trick the people into thinking he was a hero and riku was a murderer and a madman. Doflamingo is the epithome of cynical, even during the way he proclaimed that it was the winner who was going to be justice in the eyes of history. Rather than doflamingo having a hero complex I would argue the exact opposite, that he does not believe in such things.
As far as his crew, it is indeed true that he cares about them so far. He has gone out of his way to save them a number of times and even his subordinates seem to actually care for one another. Still, that is hardly a redeeming feature if we consider the lot of them have segregated, enslaved and tortured a significant portion of dresrosa's population. I don't think him having people he cares for makes him not as bad as he seems though. In real life even the biggest bigots, the worst dictators, murderers, robbers, genocidal maniacs, you name it, have people they care about.
As far as doflamingo's motivations I would argue that it is only because of a lack of context that the case could ever be made that doflamingo was just looking to bring out the worst in people. The arc has shown doflamingo as he truly is, a calculating profit oriented man with a plan. He is cynical about people but his goals obviously go beyond the abstract, he has a very clear path set for him. His plan to take over dressrosa was executed perfectly, the references to the smile fruit back in part one now actually make sense, his dropping of the slave business was done pretty well and ultimately he has built the ideal empire to gather power, allies and resources. I am not sure of why it would be weird at all that doflamingo wants to be PK though. He has proclaimed the age of dreams is over but in context that does not necessarily mean he is not just your average pirate with his dream of being the king of criminals. If I had to guess I would argue that his claim that the age of dreams is over refers to his actual plan to become PK. Doflamingo is not going out to sea pillaging, raping and fighting as your average pirate would and he certainly is not doing what luffy's crew is doing making friends and surviving weekly shenanigans. Doflamingo took over a country, enslaved and segregated a part of the population, built the single most important underground criminal empire outside of the yonko and is making all the money through the black market he has fostered. He has dealings with at least one yonko.... Its the exact opposite of what most pirates do when they attempt to become the pirate king, doflamingo is a business man while the others are going at it the old fashion romantic way so to speak. If doflamingo succeeds he will have eventually killed the dream.
Also, the issue here is that we don't know what doflamingo's plan really is. He is selling to everyone and making a ton of money but the issue here is that the whole thing is definitely supposed to make him the greatest pirate of his time in the most cynical way possible. At the moment we simply lack the final step of his plan which is what will suddenly make us see how the whole thing made sense from the start in regards to making him the PK. Personally I think the smiles he is selling are infected by his ability and when the time comes every smile user will be a puppet under his control (kinda like how mononosuke is somehow under doflamingo's influence). So his plan would basically be to get paid all the money the yonko have in exchange for turning their smile users against them. If that is indeed his plan the kaido is not even a threat to him, he is actually the easiest of the yonko for him to deal with. The hitch in doflamingo's plan would be that he could still make money and subordinates out of him if he continues to buy. In essence doflamingo is not submitting to anyone, he is simply aiming to destroy them from the inside and make a profit while at it.
But considering how this Dressrosa Arc is serving to paint Doflamingo as an arrogant and overconfident villain who ends up out-calculating himself - as illustrated by how badly he is underestimating Rebecca, Viola and the Strawhats and how he underestimated Law during the Punk Hazard Arc, I don't see Oda suddenly going against that and highlighting Doflamingo in such a way that he outshines Kaido, a Yonko. It is possible, but in my opinion, I just feel Oda is using Doflamingo to highlight Kaido, not the other way around =/.
Well, we have only seen luffy's perspective of what is means to be pirate king. Its not like pirates all over the world have collectively agreed that being pirate king is about freedom and whatnot (which is luffy's take on the matter at least). So far the general thing most seem to agree on is that the PK would be the strongest pirate, nothing else. Still, even WB and other yonko have for whatever reason not gotten to the end of the new world and they all seem to operate large criminal empires which would appear to be exactly what roger didn't do as a pirate when he was alive.
Same way as he would other fruits in this case. There has to be more to the whole thing with mononosuke's fruit and doflamingo, there was a scene in which doflamingo even seemed to ask mononosuke who he was. I think it was about the time the strawhats got to dressrosa. Heck, when mononosuke was introduced he actually lost control over himself when he escaped the dump.
I'm actually basing my perception on what it means to the "Pirate King" from Shank's, Crocus's and Rayleigh's interaction with Luffy, three people who were part of the crew of the man who has succeeded in reaching Raftel, the end of the New World in the Grand Line.
The very fact that Shanks acknowledged Luffy at the start of the series by giving him Roger's strawhat instead of some super strong pirate suggest that what makes the "Pirate King" is not [only] strength, it is something much more basic and rare, something which people like Luffy possess.
Roger's will is intimately connected to the title of Pirate King, Oda having Roger tell Rayleigh "I'm not gonna die" just before he handed himself in to the Marines, suggest that Oda is linking together the title of "Pirate King" with Roger's will. Roger or at least his will is waiting for someone to take on that title and finish what he could not. I don't see the current Doflamingo even remotely fitting into the meaning of the "Pirate King" Oda has regularly conveyed throughout the manga, but a person like Luffy on the other hand, people like him are the ones who will battle it out for the title the "Pirate King", the ones who will carry on Roger's will.
Rayleigh even commented on the people present in the Loguetown Plaza during Roger's execution receiving "something" from just observing Roger's final moments. From that point on people were inspired to become pirates and sail after the treasure called "One Piece". Those who seriously considered challenging the seas and everyone else on the seas for the title of "Pirate King", I believe received something more, the romance for adventure which Roger so boldly embodied within his final speech. Doflamingo, as a seventeen year old, was there, and I believe he too as someone seriously considering challenging the title of "Pirate King" received "something" from Roger, a bit of the romance and love Roger had for the sea. That "something" which Doflamingo received 24 years ago, has possibly become twisted and distorted by all the negativity Doflamingo has likely faced when he was in Mariejois and during his time sailing in the Grand Line. Doflamingo's current actions don't reflect anything relatable to what Roger stood for, so if Oda really did intend for people present during Roger's execution who were considering challenging the title of "Pirate King" to receive that 'romantic' quality from Roger, such a quality has ended up lost and possibly distorted by the 24 years separating the Doflamingo in Loguetown to the Doflamingo currently in Dressrosa.
Overall what confuses me is that Oda has established what he wants the "Pirate King" in One Piece to mean, yet he has Doflamingo's character, through his current actions, act completely against with what the "Pirate King" embodies and still has Monet, in her "final" moments, emotionally and genuinely state in a way the reader is forced to acknowledge, that Doflamingo is someone who has the intention of becoming the "Pirate King". The only way in which I can interpret the scene when Monet conveys Doflamingo's intention of wanting to be the "Pirate King" that makes sense to me, is to interpret it as Monet recalling memories from a distant past and remembering a time in which Doflamingo was more romantically involved in following his dream of become the "Pirate King".
Ah I really want to know what happened to Doflamingo in the past...