There is one movie this season that has hit screens all over the globe and still has everyone talking – Joker. For those out of the loop this could easily be overlooked as another comic book film retelling virtually the same tales with the exact same characters (looking at you live action Spiderman), but you would be magnificently wrong. Unlike all the spandex-clad heroes we haven’t truly been given a dedicated movie for the Joker especially since his last appearance in Suicide Squad was, well, we don’t talk about that. What is it about this film that has audiences so shocked and how has this seemingly broken apart from the endless stream of comic book titles on the big screen?
Of course, you may argue that Deadpool was an R rated movie, but you only need to see the first 5 minutes to know that it isn’t an adult film. Joker doesn’t rely on curse words and crude humour to bump up its rating, this film is a psychological tale of a disturbed individual. The depressing life of Arthur Fleck mixed with an absence of testosterone fuelled fight scenes makes this film much more of a contemplative drama than any other film in the genre that is superhero. When violence occurs it is uncomfortable, when something depraved occurs it isn’t swiftly corrected with justice, this film is as much about modern society as it is its psychotic protagonist, something that family fun flicks like Guardians of the Galaxy are far from.
A Villain’s Perspective
As an audience we are usually firmly in the seat of the hero. With solid moral compass and a fancy costume to boot, the hero has been done to death, its fair to say that Joker proves audiences are eager for the flip side of the coin. From Tony Soprano to Walter White, TV has shown us the complexities of the ‘bad guy’ several times and to great acclaim. Joker jumps aboard this idea, coupled with Joaquin Phoenix’s incredible performance which will make you feel deep empathy and violent delight, this time you will not only is the bad guy afforded an origin but you may leave thoroughly on his side.
Cry For Rebellion
Amongst the madness slowly boiling inside Arthur Fleck’s brain, the tension on the streets of Gotham are a clear allegory for the troubled times of today. Between America’s Presidency and the UK’s Brexit conundrum society is on as much a knifes edge as the troubled youth in Arthur’s neighbourhood. Even more apparent is the push against the rich and powerful illustrated in the film in several ways, one of the most straightforward being the perpetual slogan “Kill the Rich”. The Joker we know and love from the comics has long been a vessel for chaos and this new tale shows the thread that connects righteous to riot.
Joker is not your average comic book film; this is an understatement. What Todd Phillips and his cast and crew have created is an unforgettable story about the underclass forced into an impossible cage until they bite back. For years society’s elite have done little but paraded themselves for all to see while the have nots lay cowering in alleyways, Joker asks us whether we are mad enough to take a stand.