In 2017, the year “Wonder Woman” earned positive reception from critics and fans of DC Comics, Warner Bros (WB for short) announced that they’re working on a movie about Batman’s archenemy Joker. Jared Leto was rumored to reprise his role as the character, but it was decided that WB is looking for a different actor to play the iconic villain in an origin story not set in the DC Extended Universe. (DCEU for short) Frontrunners like Leonardo DiCaprio & Bill Skarsgård were considered to play Joker, but Leo dropped out in favor of working with Quentin Tarantino in “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.” Bill on the other hand, didn’t want to play another evil clown as he was working on “It: Chapter 2.”
Academy Award nominee Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, Walk The Line, The Master) officially signed on to play the character. He was interested in a character driven comic book film. He turned down the roles of Hulk & Dr. Strange, because he felt reluctant to appear in multiple sequels which could effect his schedule. He finally gets a chance to work on a stand-alone film without establishing numerous sequels. Todd Phillips (The Hangover Trilogy, Old School, Road Trip) signed on to direct, write & co-produce with the help of Bradley Cooper & Martin Scorsese serving as executive producers. At one point, Marty was considered to direct the project, but he had given Todd the director’s chair as he was busy working on “The Irishman.” He does remain as an influence to the story.
Joker premiered at “The 76th Venice Film Festival” in August 31st, two months before the film’s actual release date. It received critical acclaim from critics praising Joker as the best Batman related film since The Dark Knight. Joaquin Phoenix earned positive reception for his portrayal as The Clown Prince Of Crime.
Prior to the film’s release, mass shootings from across the nation including El Paso, Midland, Odessa among many other locations begin to affect Joker’s critical reception. Besides mass shootings, the political social climate of The Trump Administration is spreading negatively as an epidemic filled with protestors. Increased security in several theaters are making sure nobody wears costumes, because a schizophrenic man named, James Holmes killed and injured innocent people in Colorado during a midnight screening for “The Dark Knight Rises.” Most recently, Robert De Niro is accused of workplace harassment. All of these subjects might’ve created a ripple effect. Whenever a real life event happened changed the public’s attitude towards a movie.
As a result of polarized reactions, the world premiere of Joker banned interviews after Joaquin walked away from an interview when the person asked him if the film might inspire real life murderers. Regardless of divisive reception from critics, movie goers actually enjoyed Joker’s origin story. It’s making box office records surpassing Venom’s opening release. If Joker managed to dominate as a critical and commercial success, WB could work on stand-alone villain films in a label called, “DC Black Label,” an anthology film series not related to the DC Extended Universe.
The following review contains no very important SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen DC’s highly anticipated film, feel free to read my non-spoiler article. Is Joker worth the hype? Let’s find out shall we?
Happy & Sad Qualities
Happy: Joaquin Phoenix portrays Arthur Fleck/Joker. He did an excellent job for his performance. Somewhere, Jared Leto is crying in the shower like Elmer Fudd saying, “I’m a disgwace” Elmer is known for replacing the letter R with W. You know, “Rascally Wabbit?”
Fun Fact: To prepare for the role as Joker, Joaquin never asked notable Joker actors Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill & Jared Leto for advice. Instead, he read books about political assassinations, study psychology of serial killers, lost 50 pounds to reflect Joker’s slender physique, based his laugh on videos of people who suffer from a real life disease called, “Pseudobulbar Affect”/”Pathological Laughter,” listening to Disco to match the time period of the music genre dying as a metaphor for Arthur who’ll lose everything he loved & watching the works of silent film legends Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton & dancer Ray Bolger (Scarecrow from The Wizard Of Oz) to achieve Joker’s mannerisms and endure physical stunts.
Todd Phillips co-wrote, co-produce and directed the movie. He did a decent job building a cohesive narrative. Something “Teen Titans Go The Movies” lacked.
Bradley Cooper co-produce the film to help his pal Todd. They worked on The Hangover Trilogy. Bradley played Rocket Raccoon from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Although not involved in production, Martin Scorsese is a primary influence to the film.
Other Cast Members such as Robert De Niro, Zazie Beets, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen & Marc Maron all did a fantastic job for their performances.
The film is set in 1981. The year “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” came out, plus Natalie Portman (one of my favorite actresses) was born. The time period recreates a post-Watergate atmosphere.
Hildur Guonadóttir (HBO’s Chernobyl, Sicario: Day Of The Soldado) composed instrumental music.
Cinematography was spot on gorgeous. Gotham City is a filthy environment of New York back when The Watergate Scandal was fresh in The 70’s.
Even though this movie doesn’t have any over-the-top Action Sequences, Death Scenes are very harsh. Don’t take your kids to see the movie, because they’ll be disappointed and emotionally scarred for life. Remember, this ain’t “Shazam,” for parents to take their kids, this a a hard R picture refusing to say, “sorry.” It’s an unapologetic picture. “Unapologetic” is the definition of hard R movies like “Deadpool” & “Logan.”
Character Development involving Arthur. As the film progresses, he becomes mentally deranged, due to society bulling him and making fun of his laughing condition.
Joker’s makeup is based on mass murderer John Wayne Gacy’s clown makeup. Joker’s red suit pays homage to Rupert Pupkin’s flamboyant outfits from The King Of Comedy.
Like Tim Burton’s Batman, Joker has a real name. Jack Nicholson’s version was named, Jack Napier while Joaquin’s iteration of his character is named, Arthur Fleck. I didn’t mind the change, because this takes place outside of the DC Extended Universe’s timeline.
Unlike several superhero movies, this origin story is influenced by the works of Martin Scorsese including “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” & “The King Of Comedy.” Todd mentioned that Joker is also influenced by 70’s films like “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” & “Serpico.”
Besides character driven movies from The 70’s to early 80’s, Joker’s origin story borrows story elements from Alan Moore’s “Batman: The Killing Joke.” A one shot storyline about Joker’s past as an unnamed failed stand-up comedian, who turns to a life of crime in order to support his pregnant wife, until all hell broke lose, transforming the first time crook, into Gotham’s most dangerous criminal. The film also borrows some elements from Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns.”
Without giving too much away, according to Joaquin, Joker’s complex psychosis is up to the viewer to interpret what’s real or fake. A nod to the comics. Joker prefers his past to be told in multiple choice, because he’s an unreliable narrator.
If you’re a fan of Batman, hidden Easter Eggs are displayed. Can you spot which one?
The Tone is much darker than Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Trilogy.” Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this film lacks lighthearted elements & positive attitude. The best way to describe Joker’s tone is a cross between “Black Swan” & Taxi Driver. Darren Aronofsky meets Marty Scorsese.
If you’re expecting over-the-top action sequences, an appearance from Batman, Superman and gorgeous C.G.I. This ain’t gonna be your typical fun popcorn flick. It’s actually a throwback to 70’s crime thrillers. If you’re a huge Batman fan, you’ll be very disappointed. Consider this a warning folks.
This film is confirmed as an “Elseworlds” story. What is an Elseworlds story? It’s a one-shot storyline taking place outside of the main universe. For example, Batman becomes a member of “The Green Lantern Corps” in a storyline known as “Batman: In Darkest Knight.” DC confirmed many Elseworlds stories are part of a multiverse, which means Joker actually takes place in a DC Extended Multiverse.
Robert De Niro’s character Murray Franklin is based on Johnny Carson alongside his character Rupert Pupkin from The King Of Comedy. Murray is also based on David Endocrine from The Dark Knight Returns, a caricature of David Letterman. Conan O’Brien voiced David in the animated Dark Knight Returns. Speaking of Letterman, Joaquin appeared on Letterman to promote his “new career” as a hip-hop rapper. As you may know, Joaquin fooled everybody thinking he went crazy. You can also check out the mockumentary film, “I’m Still Here.”
I can’t tell you The Ending. Holy guacamole! I cannot say anything as this non-spoiler review is classified. I refused to spill the beans. You’re gonna have to see for yourself.
Sad: I’m gonna be brutally honest, I couldn’t spot nothing wrong with this origin movie. I’m giving The Cast & Crew an Extra Point for making a movie as flawless as possible.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
All I can say is, Joker is arguably an instant classic. Joaquin Phoenix was terrific as The Clown Prince Of Crime he managed to knock it out of the park. It’s his best performance since “The Master.” Todd Phillips did his homework by retaining the mythology of Joker. The origin story felt like a breath of fresh air. Character Development adding a new layer to Joker’s complex background and many other things listed on the positive section. This is the first time I’ve given a current movie my highest rank since “Avengers: Endgame.” Joker is a movie of the year contender. Joaquin is overdue for an Oscar pronto! If you’re eager to see Joker, I strongly recommend it.
Well done Warner Bros & DC Films, y’all finally made a decent movie. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for darker solo villain movies. If you’re reading this, would you please make a Deathstroke/Slade Wilson movie. He’s my favorite DC villain, he’s like the Boba Fett of the DC Universe.