The DC Universe has a select group of characters whose star power is such that just their names are enough to guarantee a hit movie. While the Joker is perhaps the most popular DC super villain, he didn’t have enough of a strong name like Batman or Superman to warrant an instant audience - that is, until Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker arrived.
It is due to the actor’s masterful performance that the film is seeing such commercial success, and none of that would have been possible had Joaquin not completely nailed the mannerisms of the character. In case you haven’t watched the movie and want to know what to expect from him, or have seen it and just want to appreciate the performance, here are 10 Joker mannerisms Joaquin Phoenix nailed.
10 Innate Sadness
In The Killing Joke, it was revealed that the Joker had one bad day that cost him his sanity, and Joker was very reminiscent of that. Before Joaquin’s Joker took the turn for the worst, you could see how deeply sad he was.
It became clearer when we saw him try (and fail) in his stand-up routines, as he took to comedy in an attempt to bring some joy in his life. All those times he laughed, the emptiness in those screeches of supposed hilarity proved what a depressed man he was after nothing ever worked out for him.
9 Inside Jokes
As shown in Batman Beyond, the Joker never actually made much jokes aloud, and he considered himself to be funny when nobody else laughed with him. Joker focused on this aspect so much, that the “inside joke” part of his character ended up in the final moments of the movie.
Like the animated version before him, Joaquin’s Joker would smile to himself and would have a strange smirk on his face, making one certain he had jokes going on his mind that he found absolutely hilarious.
8 Being In Thorough Denial
Even though he wasn’t funny, had no admirers, and was in no way a catch at all, Arthur Fleck convinced himself so much that this wasn’t the reality that he started living in his own delusions. Similarly, the Joker also goes about thinking people in Gotham - and even Batman - admire him.
This was also one of the reasons Joaquin’s character had that strange smile plastered on him, as his inner workings were convincing him the world around him was accepting of his nature.
7 Slasher Smile
In both the comics and animated media that’s featured the Joker, his image has always been accompanied by a huge teeth-baring smile that feels as if he’s about to tear your throat with those fangs; we got to see it in live-action with Joaquin’s performance.
Simply smiling by spreading his lips wasn’t something Arthur was fond of, and we got shots of him fully embracing his confidence where showing his teeth while smiling was concerned as he had that distinct slasher face, the one villains from those ‘80s horror movies used to have.
6 Follower-Gaining Charisma
The Joker is a whole bag of crazies, and there’s no way anybody can deny it, but the guy still somehow manages to find a following in-universe. In fact, Batman Beyond showed the future had a gang called Jokerz in tribute to the then-deceased villain, signifying this admiration he received.
In the same way, Joaquin’s performance signaled a definite change when he began taking pleasure from his criminal activities, and this evolved into bringing out a charisma that allowed him to capture an audience of his own. It’s the sort of quality that made his character both a loner and a leader of his people.
5 Sudden Quiet Moments
You must have noticed how some scenes had Arthur be quiet, with not much going on other than awkward pause; this wasn’t a directing mistake, rather a part of what makes the Joker who he is.
He doesn’t always act like a lunatic, and his scariest moments are when he falls quiet, a time where nobody knows what’s going on in his mind. Joaquin’s Joker had these quieter moments for both sad scenes, and for when he had something devious in mind. It was times like these when we actually started missing the usual jumpy Joker.
4 Dancing Like A Lunatic
When things start going his way, the Joker get even more animated than he usually is, and takes to dancing around like a complete madman. And yet, it’s oddly freeing to see him express himself without restraint, a quality we noticed from Joaquin from the previews alone.
Fans loved the teasers of the movie where Joaquin was shown happily dancing on a long winding path of stairs, as he jumped and kicked around with definite lunacy surrounding him. This was a kind of maddening glee that only the Joker can be seen displaying.
3 Enjoyment Of Pain
Heath Ledger was also a master of copying the Joker’s mannerisms, with his famous scene from The Dark Knight showing how he found the idea of pain hilarious; Joaquin Phoenix emulated this as well. And while his version didn’t have that twisted version of pleasure we saw from Heath’s Joker, it was in line with the general attitude of the character.
We’ve seen Joker get beat up on many occasions, but it is only certain times - times where he’s not in control - that he doesn’t like getting hit. Arthur Fleck also derived some manner of pleasure from being physically assaulted, but added in the resentment he felt for those who dared abused him.
2 A Laugh That Comes Deep From The Throat
All you need to do is watch clips of Mark Hamill as the DC Animated Universe’s Joker laughing, and you’ll see just how powerful the Joker laugh needs to be. To his credit, Joaquin Phoenix nailed this part of the character.
Some actors make the mistake of trying to make the Joker’s laugh sound flashy on presentation, but the trick is to bring out the laughter straight from the lower throat. Joaquin’s laugh, while shown to be the result of a neurological disorder, comes without any holding back or trying too hard - you get the sense he’s letting it all out straight from the throat as he wails.
1 Audience-Winning Charisma
This is something that isn’t part of the universe the movie is set in, but the Joker’s winning quality has been his ability to have the kind of charismatic presence that makes fans instantly rally behind him.
There’s not even much of an explanation as to how this charisma comes about, but it’s already been proven seeing as Joker is set at the top of the box office with all the hype created due to Joaquin’s acting winning over audiences before the film was released. It’s the kind of draw the Joker has only because the person playing him can pull it off, and that’s a quality that the actors either have or they don’t.