I both hate and love this movie. Taxi Driver, Falling Down are a couple of films that come to mind after watching Todd Phillip’s latest film, Joker. The Joker is a character that has been infused into our society be it you’re a comic fan or not. This agent of chaos has seeped his way into our lives for better or for worse. At a time when society is so volatile, our “leaders” are a joke and many policies do not benefit the many, does it make you wonder why so many of us can easily embrace the Joker as someone we can, oh I don’t know…. possibly relate to? As a film, Joker does exactly what it sets out to do. A true departure from the fan-dubbed DCEU, it has been easy to not want this movie to come out or admit that DC is at this point in their film releases. After a turbulent start to their movie universe, DC seems to have gotten themselves back on track as of late. Combining their success on the small screen along with some recent successes on the big screen, it looks like DC may have found its groove in entertaining us.
Joker stands alone from the rest of its peers and delivers something to the library of DC films that has not yet been achieved, something to think about. You don’t have to accept this movie as “your’ Joker, and as DC has been trying hard to establish as of late, there’s more than one way to cook an egg. I love that WB has FINNALLY embraced the idea of the multiverse and is starting to treat their fans and newcomers as if they were intelligent. I think that people can handle two live-action Deathstroke’s running around if they can wrap their head around the idea that there are three Jokers in the DC comic universe. Stories, tales, fables, whatever you want to call them, there has always been different ways to tell a story. Is this an acceptable origin story for the Joker? Yes and no. I will always be one for the mysteriousness of the character, someone who we don’t truly know what drives him (besides the obvious, chaos). Arthur’s mother’s story-line was very sad, driving him over the edge eventually, and it worked to be honest. If you can separate yourself from what has been told to you about the origins of Batman or the Joker then maybe you can buy into it. If you can’t, forget about it. I think that DC has been trying to do that as of late, and I appreciate it. ‘World’s of DC’ is the term now, stories that don’t have to be neatly tied together with a bunch of other films to make sense. Stories that can be told in different ways, different ways to tell the TALE of a character(s). What kind of viewer are you? One who wants it easy or do you want to think about what your favorite character or team has to go through? The best comic books in history make us do this, shouldn’t our comic book movies?
Let’s tackle the elephant in the room (aka this country/society), mental illness. As someone who knows all too well the frailness of the human psyche, Joker comes across as a warning of sorts, is it meant to be one? I believe so. Seeing the world and this country as I have, it is easy for me to draw many parallels to the struggles that Arthur Fleck endures throughout the movie, and like I said, relate to them. One scene that stood out to me in particular was when Arthur’s doctor told him that the funding for the program to get the help he needed was dried up. That the someone who he relied on talking out his issues with, and maybe more importantly the medication he was receiving, was now gone. This, like many other cases in this film, sound awfully familiar to what is happening today in our world. We watch as Arthur’s reality crumbles before him and the darkness slowly encapsulates him.
Are you supposed to like this movie? I really can’t say. Is the Joker someone who we should related to, feel sympathy for? What about idolize? I will admit that Joker is like a freight train that keeps hitting you over and over and it made me uncomfortable many times. I’ve read many cases where people have stood up and walked out of the movie. This movie is not for everyone and if you are a parent you should definitely think twice about letting your impressionable child watch it. There are also many who will critique this film as they sit and look at the rest of society from their white, fluffy pillows. Those who are too afraid to admit that there are many more out there who may/will relate to this story. If anything, maybe we will all think twice when we have a friend who needs to talk or maybe volunteering at the local shelter isn’t such a bad idea. What are we doing for our fellow humans out there? All it takes is a a little bit of YOUR time, as much time as you spent sitting watching this movie. What I got out of Joker the most was that we have a real issue that is biting at our heels in our society and it’s not going to get any better if we just sit back and laugh.