The Joker is one of the most iconic villains in comic book history, if not the history of popular culture – period – but he’s also been reinterpreted dozens of times by a near endless parade of writers, artists, actors and filmmakers over the decades; with many fans harboring potent opinions as to which characterization is the “true” Joker in their eyes. Those fans will have to wait a few more days for a full look at the newest incarnation as played by Jared Leto in Suicide Squad, but early word on the film (which is not thus far very positive) indicates this radical reinvention will prove as controversial as others before.
Meanwhile, The Laughing Man – a new fan film from The Hallivis Brothers – shows off a live-action interpretation of another extreme Joker vision guaranteed to have fans talking.
Drawing visual and narrative influence chiefly from The Joker’s appearance in Scott Snyder’s ultra-dark Batman comic book arc “Death of The Family,” the short film features analogs of The Joker and Harley Quinn (recognizable, though not fully named as such for obvious reasons) tormenting an asylum psychotherapist whom they accuse of committing heinous crimes of his own – live-streaming his torture to an unseen audience whom they’ve asked to vote on his ultimate fate.
Elsewhere in the 20 minute short subject, Joker – here referred to only as “Laughing Man” and sporting the character’s trademark green hair and bleached skin – recounts the traumatic childhood’s of fellow patients in a set of flashbacks presented in stylized form as stop motion animation and shadow-play, with gory violence that would likely net a full-length feature an R-rating and are easily more gruesome than anything seen in the PG-13 rated Suicide Squad. No visible references to Batman or other Joker-adjacent DC characters figure in the short itself.
Notably, the short climaxes with “Laughing Man” slicing off his own face in order to refashion it into a more extreme-grinning skin mask; presenting a live-action take on the “Masked Joker” look from the recent Batman comics that proved divisive among many longtime Batman and Joker fans; with some calling it their favorite look for the character ever and others crying heresy. Also of note: Prior to the “masking,” both this ersatz-Joker and the Suicide Squad version forego the “permanent smile” look that’s been traditional in most previous live-action versions. Which way will fans prefer? We’ll find out when Suicide Squad hits theaters this Friday.
Suicide Squad is scheduled to arrive in theaters on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash and Batman solo movie are currently without release dates.
Source: The Laughing Man