Think of every superhero movie that you have ever watched. Let it be Batman, Ironman, Captain America or Superman. In each of the film, the protagonist and the antagonist are always displayed to be larger than life. They may not be your ordinary guy next door. Most of them are either from a different world or posses some superhuman capabilities, strength or they may just be freaking genius. You know that you can never be them.
Even the Joker, well at least the versions of Joker in the past. Either the legendary Health Ledger’s version or the ever-iconic Jack Nicholson’s version of the Joker, they still seem larger than life or at least impossible it will be impossible for any one of us to turn out to be like those Joker.
This is what separates Joaquin Phoniex’s Joker compared to those in the past. Joaquin Phoniex’s Joker is by far the most relatable and human orientated Joker that has ever been presented on the larger screen, and perhaps therefore this Joker will go down in my books as the best Joker there is.
In the past films, The Joker is often presented as psychotic guy who has no senses or moral compass and has only one goal that is to torment Gotham and drive Batman to the edge of craziness. One who played this so well was of cause Heath Ledger. His version of Joker is one who is smart, cunning and always has a plan to force people to make the tough decision. He is perhaps the classiest version there ever was.
Then now under Todd Phillips direction, Joaquin Phoniex’s Joker is a version that takes place before he fully becomes The Joker. It is story about a man who is suffering from severe mental health illness transforming into becoming The Joker.
The movie starts with him putting on his clown make up (because he is employed in the clown business) and he subtly tears down on one cheek with somber sorrow music playing on the background. Almost immediately you will be drowning down towards his sorrow and pain.
Throughout the film, it continues to explore the pain of this man as he must deal with his mental health issues and how the society treats him or maybe how the society ignores him. The movie is set on a backdrop where Gotham is starting to be pollute with garbage as the garbage collecting society are on a strike. As the Gotham is being taken over by the filthy garbage, so is it is society being taken over by people with who are losing their moral compass.
Stuck in between this transition in Gotham is the Joker. As the society starts to behave more uncivilized, barbaric and less human, it pushes this man who in on the brink of depression and delusion into fully becoming The Joker.
The strength of the movie lies in how Todd Phillips captures and shows us the transition of Arthur Fleck into becoming The Joker. He shows takes us into the mind of The Joker inflict the pain he is going through onto us.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is the scene where The Joker tells his mental health therapist that how she never listens to him and all he has is negative thoughts and another scene which reveals the relationship that he has with a woman who is his neighbor.
The movie is 2 hours long and although the movie is set on a slow pace, Todd Phillips takes his time to let us live through The Joker’s mind and allows us to experience his pain and transition into becoming The Joker.
If you didn’t hear terms like Gotham, Joker or Wayne, it is so easy to believe that this story could happen to anyone around us and not something that occurs in a superhero universe.
That is why, Joker is the most human & realistic film to ever take place in a superhero universe.