The nihilistic clown prince of crime we all know and secretly admire is coming back for a standalone origin story. We all have our hang-ups on how this beloved character should be portrayed, which leaves room for disappointment. DC has a track record of being poorly received, in part due to the reactions to Jared Leto’s Joker. Especially disastrous after the throne that had been set for the late Heath Ledger’s rendition.
Martin Scorsese will be producing the film, The Joker. Todd Phillips, famous from the Hangover franchise and most recently A Star is Born, has taken the helm over directing. Whether he has the skills to take on this beloved character and bring the DCU franchise to succeed in the box office, we will have to see.
Most recently, we were given a thirty-second teaser that shows Arthur Fleck, played by the renowned Joaquin Phoenix. The name so far is original to the character’s source material, but more is slowly revealed as the clip shows an Arthur Fleck gazing out in thought, while the song laughing, The Guess Who plays; followed by projections of Phoenix dancing around on a stage painted in classic clown makeup, wearing a suit reminiscent of Cesar Romero’s Joker.
The images quickly flash by as if Arthur is thinking of the act. He begins to smile, then in the few remaining seconds, as the last note of the song fades ominously, revealing Phoenix in full clown makeup, cackling and suddenly becoming a straight-faced, emotionally untapped psychopath.
Many have expressed their opinion on the newly realized joker, either loving it or hating it. While some have tempered their expectations in fear of feeling betrayed when the film finally comes out. Though the look has been talked about, I believe more important is the tone of the story that this teaser reveals.
The 1960s’ psychedelic rock song presented with the grainy flashing of the Joker presents to me, a tone that reveals the burgeoning insanity that is slowly surfacing on Arthur. He smiles insanely, showing, his transition into an unchained psychopath and perhaps he is truly happy with it. The reason we all admire the Joker is his contentment with insanity and becoming the man who just wants to see the world burn, to let all that draws us closer and closer to the Joker’s side, just give way. It is a passion for not only a character beloved to so many, but to a state of mind, that is in all parts dangerous, but free.
The production has also been inundated with leaked footage that first revealed Arthur Fleck leaving the set to what seems like a clown act. Though most recently TMZ gave us a snippet of a scene showing terrified subway goers fleeing from the train with the Joker following behind.
Fears of the direction DC is taking their universe in has propagated with this recent news, allowing all sorts of interpretations to be met, but if this film is everything we hope for (which may be asking a lot from DC) it will lead to brighter future for DC fans.