You know the Joker. But do you really know the Joker?
That’s the premise behind Todd Phillips’s Joker, a film about the beginnings of Batman’s least favorite clown. We always knew the film would be a dark, Scorsese-like character study of the man behind the make-up and the first trailer (below) completely confirms that.
All in all, it’s a strong trailer! Part of me wishes there were no Gotham references in the preview at all, it would have made the title something of a surprise to audiences. That’s because this unsurprisingly does not look like a typical comic book film. It definitely looks like the dirty, sad, dark movie Phillips has promised. Joaquin Phoenix is, of course, killing it. And with the wee bit of drama and story we see in this trailer, we can finally understand why Phoenix took the coveted role. The man is obviously digging into the character and that’s exciting. We expected no less from such a talented actor.
Christopher Nolan once compared the Joker to the shark from Jaws, saying that we don’t need a backstory about him, we don’t need to know his motivations or his personality. He’s a force of a nature, without past or reason. He exists like a hurricane, created to only cause chaos. I like that idea. At the same time, I’m very intrigued by what Phillips is creating here and I know that’s a total contradiction of Nolan’s words. But it’s hard to say no to a Joker origin story when it looks like this, when it’s being taken seriously and has such talent on screen. So I’m making an exception because this first trailer has instilled a lot of hope in me. This movie might just deliver.
But DC better not go back and change Joker’s origin story if this movie is a success! Let’s not get crazy, people!
I am a little hesitant to completely endorse this film because of how certain mouth-breathing viewers might take it. Phoenix’s character looks like the type that some disturbed and ignorant people might view as the hero. We’ve seen it before with Fight Club, The Dark Knight and movies featuring “edgy” villains. I don’t care how powerful a performance Phoenix gives, the Joker will never be a hero - no matter how much backstory and motivation we get. There is no need to view him as some sort of tortured prophet or misunderstood hero. He’s not! Say it with me: the Joker is a bad guy! Even as I type this, I know we will see people quote and idolize this Joker in the years to come. People are weird.