Well the Joker trailer releasing back in April certainly got out attention. Despite the fact it’s been just 11 years since Heath Ledger set pulses racing as the Clown Prince of Crime in The Dark Knight - and three since Jared Leto gave it a crack in the divisive Suicide Squad - Batman’s arch-nemesis is back. And, this time, he’s on his own.
Details of the movie are being kept tightly under wraps. We know Joaquin Phoenix will be playing Arthur Fleck, a man whose mental health problems will see him eventually don the clown make-up and green hair, but that’s about it. Let's take a look at everything we want --and don’t want-- Fleck to be when the movie hits screens in October.
It’s an obvious one, but the Joker, being the Joker after all, has to have a heck of a laugh on him. One of many complaints about Jared Leto’s version of the famous DC character was that his laugh sounded weird, due to the metal grills he was wearing on his teeth.
We already heard Fleck laughing during the first teaser trailer and it sent chills down our spine. Some theories have suggested the character will have a genetic problem that means he cannot control his laugh, which would certainly be a unique twist for the Clown Prince of Crime. We’re hoping for laughs aplenty - but only at the most inappropriate of times.
The Joker is undeniably popular, with his charm and charisma making him one of the most fascinating characters in the whole of media. But the decision to make Arthur Fleck a man with mental health issues - and one who appears to genuinely dote on his mother at that - means there’s a risk that audiences may feel some sympathy towards his character.
That can’t be allowed to happen. The Joker is evil to the bone. It’s okay to like the character, because, after all, he’s an extrovert who is incomparable to anybody in real life. But to make him a sympathetic individual would be taking away from his sheer malicious nature and strip a little of his fear factor. He’s got to be scary, you know...
Every Joker in televised Batman media - including the unofficial Clown Princes of Crime Jeremiah and Jerome Valeska in the Gotham TV series - have been obsessed with Bruce Wayne. Regardless of whether he’s a young teenager or a full-fledged man, the Prince of Crime is obsessed with getting to him and pushing him to cross the ultimate line.
So, when the trailer hints that this time he’ll have his sights on Thomas Wayne, that’s rather refreshing. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. The Joker has killed off Bruce’s father once before in Tim Burton’s Batman movie but this looks likely to be at the forefront of the blockbuster - unlike before. That’s not to say he should stay clear of Bruce entirely, however...
While the Joker has pursued Bruce on many occasions, what if he instead bonded with the boy? That’s what the first teaser trailer hinted at, with Arthur Fleck forcing a young boy - who IMDB would eventually reveal was, in fact, Thomas Wayne’s son - to smile through the gates of what appears to be the family mansion.
Imagine how cool this would be: Bruce becoming friends with the Joker himself, idolising him perhaps, before the villain murders his parents in the ultimate betrayal? Yikes. It would certainly be original and the prospect of the fierce rivals being something more, something healthier, certainly appeals.
Joaquin Phoenix is an outstanding actor, so we’re quietly confident he’ll be able to live up to expectations of the fans when the movie releases later this year. But, while that’s all very well and good, we want him to put his own original spin on the character rather than simply be a rehash of what’s gone before.
Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Jared Leto all differ from each other and no, we’re not just talking about how they look and how their make-up is done. Phoenix is an actor with depth, and the way Arthur Fleck conducts himself in the trailers has us hoping he’ll be nothing like previous incarnations.
What we mean is, it’s fine that audiences know that the Joker is Arthur Fleck. But what we don’t want happening is Gotham City to know that the Joker and the mentally-deranged individual are one of the same.
One of the greatest things about the villain is his mystique. He’s never had a set origin story - although the Killing Joke is extremely popular - and consequently, nobody in Gotham has ever known him as anything more than just a deranged lunatic who runs around in make-up killing and tormenting anybody he wants. To have the entire city know his identity would be a betrayal to the character and, while we’re open to director Todd Philips changing things up, that’s something that should stay the same.
Yawn. If the Joker movie is to really stand out, it needs to do things that haven’t been seen before. We’ve touched on him going after Thomas Wayne rather than Bruce Wayne, and bonding with the latter, but we also really don’t want a situation where he falls into a vat of burning chemicals and that’s why he becomes so unhinged.
Part of the reason is this: Tim Burton’s Batman involved that happening, Suicide Squad did too (albeit more hinted at), while the Gotham TV series had Jeremiah Valeska transform after taking a tumble. The Killing Joke cartoon did it as well and it’s time for Mr. J to have his own unique origin story, rather than the DC bigwigs to revert to type.
This is the Joker we’re talking about and the decision to give the film an R-rating has gone down a storm with fans. They want to see the most ruthless and vile villain pull no punches, and the decision to give the movie such a high certificate suggests there will be plenty of violence and creepy moments in store.
Ledger’s performance sent chills down our spine, while Cameron Monaghan as Jeremiah Valeska in Gotham was also a colder version of the Joker. Romero and Nicholson’s were more comedic and slapstick than the recent versions and, with Ledger and Monaghan so popular, DC should stick to formula by making Arthur Fleck the most creepy, unpredictable violent version to date.
Superhero movies, with the exception of Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, rarely let the bad guys win. Like, ever. Infinity War was so shocking and dramatic in that respect that it had audiences talking about it for months afterwards. Characters as strong as Iron Man, Captain America and Thor all came up short and it made for arguably the most emotional ending to a superhero movie EVER.
We don’t know what the Joker wants yet but if, as expected, he goes after Thomas Wayne then the movie should end with him getting his way, perhaps dancing theatrically afterwards. Mr J has never won in a live-action movie and it’s time to buck that trend.
This is the Joker movie, let’s make it clear. It’s about how Arthur Fleck goes on to terrorise the citizens of Gotham City, donning clown make-up and allowing his charismatic - and maniacal - personality to infect those inside the city. But we still have our fears that he won’t be THE Mr J.
For starters, there’s the age gap with Bruce Wayne. By the time the young boy becomes Batman, it would be no understatement to say everybody’s favourite villain would be getting on a bit. That’s led to talk that Arthur will go on to inspire the real Joker but, really, that would be a big mistake. There’s only one Joker and he certainly wouldn’t be a copycat...