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How Will Joker Compare To Previous Takes on the Character?

August 31, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

If you’ve been reading my comic book themed columns during the week you know I have a special affinity to DC’s Elseworlds imprint. It gives creative teams leeway to tell stories outside the strict bounds of continuity and a fresh look at characters we’ve gotten used to in a certain point of view.

When it comes to the big screen, we’ve had some really mesmerizing portrayals of the Crown Prince of Crime. Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger brought different angles of brilliance to the role and they are still discussed today. For good reason.

Jared Leto…I’ll leave that to you to discuss.

Now we have Phoenix’s take on things and I’m more than invested in seeing how this comes to fruition.

It seems the final trailer for Joker has drawn either love or hate with little to no middle ground.

When Warner Bros. announced the Joker project, many scratched their heads at giving a clear villain his own movie. Phoenix was announced to play the lead and received minimal pushback thanks to his history of committing to a role and choosing projects that were intriguing, if nothing else.

As we got more bit and pieces about the movie, some bristled at this being a origin movie, asking if we really needed to go into detail about his early, pre-Joker days. Would Batman make an appearance? Is this part of the continuity or solely exists on its own?

To be clear, these are all legit questions and concerns.

The first teaser for Joker didn’t do much to answer some of the queries about director Todd Phillips’s vision, it did more than enough to get everyone excited and talking about it.

From what we’ve seen, Phillips and Phoenix have crafted a worthy character study of the Joker and that’s something we don’t get much of on the big screen. Something smaller in scope. We have a plethora of big budget, action crammed, special effects laden movies that blow us away.

But a person can only get so much of movies that anchor on saving the world or universe.

Being a lifelong comic book reader, I’m at the point where I know how the puppet show works. I’ve seen the strings. All the tropes, twists, and story beats. That transfers over to the big screen. I don’t get caught up on comic book deaths on the big screen because, well, we know how deaths go in comic books.

It’s now clear that Phoenix will not be the Joker who appears in its extended DC cinematic universe. I’m OK with this. Sometimes a single story, well told, is better than a sprawling epic.

Yet, there are those who feel this is an affront to the Joker character. Phillips says that people who don’t like his take on the Joker shouldn’t worry too much though.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times he made it clear. “There are always going to be naysayers, but from what I gather about the momentum of the movie and the response to the teaser we put out, the majority of fans seem to be excited about going down a different road,” Phillips said. “But also this will not be the last Joker movie ever made. It might be the last one Joaquin and I do, but someone else is going to come along and do another one, just like with Spider-Man. So if you don’t like this one, don’t worry, it’ll get reinvented again.”

He’s not wrong.

What did you think of the trailer?

article topics :

Joker, Steve Gustafson