In a world overrun by dehumanizing greed and self interest, a backstory has been given to one of DC’s most mysterious and elusive villains, The Joker.
Joaquin Phoenix stars as the ill-fated Arthur Fleck bringing a new light to the villain’s origin story.
Potential spoilers ahead.
You meet Fleck on the streets of a gritty trash filled Gotham City working as a clown for hire. As the first few minutes takes you on a passover of the city, the viewer is faced with an eerily reminiscent scene of the condemned Gotham from the Dark Knight Rises. The viewer comes to learn of Gotham’s current struggle with an overabundance of trash filling the city. Already the film is grim.
Although it was clear from the beginning that the Joker was unlikely to have had a semi functional upbringing, nothing could have prepared the viewer for what was to come.
Fleck lives in a downtrodden part of town with his mother, Penny Fleck, in a two bedroom apartment. Like many stories of the underdog, Fleck and his mother put their good faith in the hands of the rich and powerful and hope for kindness in return.
Penny, a former employee of Thomas Wayne’s, puts her faith in the good will of Mr. Wayne, the prominent business man running for mayor.
Meanwhile, Fleck places his faith in the locally adored late night comic, Murray Franklin, whom he has looked up to since he was a child.
Within this story of rich versus poor, another more startling contrast is ever present in the film, the mentally ill versus the sane, and how society looks down on those who are less fortunate.
Although this film encapsulates the idea of an origin story for one of Gotham’s most notorious villains, it also introduces the concept of how society will cease to exist if we continue to look inward and never stop to pay attention to those around us.
The idea of picking on those who are unlike ourselves comes down to the golden rule “treat others how you wish to be treated” but it seems that the golden rule has never existed in the DC universe.
A common theme in this movie is that if you have less you must not have worked hard enough. The entitlement and greed of Thomas Wayne is a startling contrast in this film from how he’d previously been painted in comics and movies, with Wayne going as far as calling the less fortunate “Clowns”.
The big question that has left many feeling uneasy when regarding the film is whether or not it was real. Is it true that this kind yet off-putting character, Arthur Fleck, could be capable of not only murdering four, but by doing so starting an uprising?
WIth many sections of the movie being revealed as fictionalized and created within Flecks’ mind is it possible that the whole thing was made up? That all of this only happened within his thoughts while he was already locked up in Arkham State? Or is it possible that this man with the intellect of a child has a better understanding of life, compassion, and fairness than that of a well educated man?
Could the Joker truly be a misunderstood Vigilante running on a strict principal of morals? Or is he as he has always been viewed, a delusional man causing chaos in Gotham?
“Joker” has earned over $900 million at the worldwide box office becoming the highest grossing R-rated film of all time.
Featured photo courtesy Warner Bros.