He may be known as the Clown Prince of Crime, but that’s because there is a definitive touch to whatever he does. Joker not only gets on Batman’s nerves but he seems to be the ring leader when it comes to all Gotham villains. That’s why when a film was made on his origin, audiences all over the world thronged to the cinema to know what made the Joker so evil, and why he loathes the Caped Crusader. Todd Phillips’ flick has all the answers, and there are as many as 11 reasons that make it a not-to-be-missed affair. Read on:
1. It is Joaquin Phoenix’s best performance ever
He has been around for a long time and has been nominated for Best Actor at the biggest level – the Academy Awards – for not one or two but three times. However, Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is probably his best performance ever because not only does he carry the film on his shoulders but doesn’t let you get bored despite being a flick about the villain. When was the last time you saw a film where the story revolved around the antagonist and you felt concerned? There are chances that he might get nominated for the fourth time next year and even take the trophy back home!
2. It presents Joker as a human, not a villain
Yes, Joker is one of the cruellest and darkest villains in DC Universe but he also has the most interesting origin story. Todd Phillips moulds his Joker on the lines of Heath Ledger instead of Jack Nicholson and that’s why Joker’s creation reminds the audience more of Christopher Nolan’s execution than Tim Burton’s. Todd Phillip’s character doesn’t have superpowers and that makes him at par with his arch-enemy, Batman who doesn’t have any superpowers at all. They both have will power, self-belief and an ability to go for the unthinkable, and this film tells you why Joker acts in such a despicable way.
3. It ties itself with Batman’s origin story
No, there is no Batman in this Joker movie but in a way, he is there, in the shadows. The film deals with Arthur Fleck and his problems which are somehow related to Bruce Wayne, who loses his parents and decides to become Batman to make Gotham safer. How the road where Joker is riding high and where Bruce Wayne is riding low intersect, that’s where Todd Phillips’ genius comes into place. He must be commended for linking two iconic DC characters in a way that no one would have imagined. It’s way better than how Zack Snyder connected the dots and made Martha the common brotherly factor between Superman and Batman in Dawn of Justice. This film’s tie-up makes you forget that debacle!
4. It’s not a dark version of the character
Thankfully, the Joker we see here is the Joker we want to see. Why he became so bad that Batman had to intervene, why he hated everyone around him so much so that he didn’t forgive his close relatives, why did he stand up for the underprivileged people of Gotham and crossed the line for unknown people when he could have done it lawfully, that are the questions this film offers. The answers wouldn’t have been possible had the film followed the Christopher Nolan route and turned out something like The Dark Knight. It maintains its own identity throughout its run and makes you want to watch it more than once.
5. Director Todd Phillips makes you feel sympathy for the titular character
And trust me, you will feel sympathetic towards Joker by the time the film ends. For a person who has been manhandled when young, assaulted when old, neglected by colleagues, not taken seriously by relatives and made fun of on his way back, turning evil was the best option. Had he not done that, he might not have been able to live a normal life and would have died in a few days, unable to take what life was offering him. You don’t have to root for him but what would you do if you were in his place? Follow the same path to survive and that’s what Joker was doing!
6. The background score complements the narrative
It seemed like the mixture of Hans Zimmer, Alan Silvestri, James Newton Howard or John Williams when you are in the cinema because not many music composers could come up with such a classic background score for Joker. Kudos to Hildur Guðnadóttir, the 37-year-old native of Iceland who understood the anguish behind the making of Joker and then put the experience in notes, producing one of the best scores of 2019. If she doesn’t get nominated for the Oscars, it will look bad on the Academy Awards who will have to face the music.
7. The suspense keeps the audience hooked
Will this thin loser of a guy would be able to make it big as a villain? Will he get justice and medical assistance after losing it as a mental patient in the world of sane people? Which actions of his will make him cross path with the Wayne family and how will he trigger their downfall? These are the kind of questions a viewer will have while going through the film, and all of them would get answered once he is near the end credits. It’s the suspense that will keep everyone glued to the edge of their seats, where a simple pat on the pack would seem like a grave interruption, big enough to become a villain for some time.
8. It reminds one of three De Niro classics
Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and King of Comedy – Todd Phillips’ Joker reminds the audience of these three Robert De Niro films, all directed by Martin Scorsese. The rage inside the film’s protagonist (that’s what Joker is!) reminds you of Raging Bull; the subsequent discovery of his inner demons brought back memories of Taxi Driver while elements of his constant obsession with a talk show host are taken directly from King of Comedy. Incidentally, Robert De Niro plays a major character in the film – that of a talk show host – who is instrumental in the titular character’s development, both in a good and a bad way.
9. It tackles the important subject of mental illness
The Joker doesn’t glamourize the super villain from Batman’s comics; in fact, it makes you understand the psyche of mental patients and their issues. Joaquin Phoenix portrays the character of a man perfectly suffering from mental issues; he is a good son, a hardworking employee and wants to make a name for himself in the world of comedy. However, circumstances don’t seem to be on his side and that’s why he loses it after his boss sacks him, his mother keeps secrets from him and he stops taking medicines. His origin story is not a joke but a real eye-opener that instructs us to listen to people around us and not look down at them because they aren’t our equal.
10. It tells you why Joker doesn’t make Jokes anymore
An origin film about the Joker must be an action flick, not a comedy, many thought before they went to watch the film. However, in Joker’s own words, “I used to think my life was a tragedy. But now I realize, it’s a comedy.” It’s a comedy where the Joker laughs like a hyena but not on the world but himself, his failures, other’s inability to understand him and above all because people don’t take him seriously. As Arthur Fleck, he was a loser but as The Joker, he didn’t lose much; in fact, he made those pay who had contributed to making him go over the edge. When he was telling jokes, he was getting the cold shoulder but when he wasn’t, everyone was scared of him. Be it the mother who left him when her boyfriend was beating him or the goons disturbing his peace on the subway, he came back triumphant even though if it meant harming those who had harmed him.
11. It gives the DC Universe the direction it was lacking
Under Zack Synder, DC films went in the wrong direction mostly because a) his vision wasn’t the vision of most fans and b) his films couldn’t align with the expectations of the audience. That’s why when Wonder Woman and Aquaman were released, the same audience immediately took a liking to the characters’ treatment. That is exactly what happened with Joker where Todd Phillips’ version aligned with the audience’s expectations. He could have made it a dark film and continued from where Christopher Nolan left but he wanted to move on, not go backwards and that’s why he succeeded. Many loyal DC fans have praised the film and want the director to come up with a sequel so that they can take one step closer to Batman’s origin again, but with Joker around.