“Joker” provides an origin for an enduring pop culture villain

Hunter Taylor, Reporter

On April 25, 1940, the Joker made his first appearance in the Batman comics. According to the writers of these comics, the Joker was supposed to appear once, but due to the potential seen in the character, he has become one of the most iconic super villains of all time. And if you asked me, I’d say the Joker needs an origin. Why did a perfectly good man go insane? The Joker has appeared in the comics, TV shows, movies, drawings, media, and even tattoos. Since then there have been a number of Joker movie portrayals throughout the years, some of them with origins and some without. Here is the live-action Joker movie portrayals in order: 

Cesar Romero in 1960 played a classic clown version of the Joker in the Batman TV series. If you look at pictures of him you can see Romero’s signature mustache, but other than that, his Joker was fun and entertaining. And what was even better is that he played in a series, so kids could sit in front of their TV and wait for the next episode of “Batman,” because it was always a different story instead of the single story a movie tells.

In 1989, Jack Nicholson played in the first full Batman movie. His Joker told of the original Joker’s origin in the comics, about a person who joined crime as a result of failure and in a fight with Batman, fell into a vat of chemicals. This damaged the nerves in his face and turned him insane. He took a different turn on the clown prince of crime and showed a little of his dark side, but he still dances to a boombox while he vandalizes museums.

In 2008, Heath Ledger came to the spotlight in “The Dark Knight,” and is the best-known Joker to hit the big screen to most people. He was funny, but he showed a lot more of the Joker’s dark side. Another thing with Ledger’s Joker was that he didn’t have an origin. He always told different stories, but they were lies. 

Then in 2016, Jared Leto played the character in “Suicide Squad.” He took on a more modern version of the Joker, decked out in tattoos and silver teeth.  He was psychotic, and he barely showed any humor. Most people hated him for his Joker because it did not show the Joker character very strongly and how little he was in the film, although I have met some people who love that version.

Since then there have been multiple portrayals of the Joker, whether it comes to the TV series of “Gotham,” or the “Lego Batman Movie,” they have tried hard. In 2019, Joaquin Phoenix starred in “Joker,” an origin movie. Set in 1981, the movie tells the story of a man named Arthur Fleck. He has a disease that causes him to laugh at awkward and inappropriate situations. He lives and takes care of his mother, Penny Fleck, in an apartment complex in the main setting of any Batman movie, Gotham City. In life he believes people are equal, and people like Thomas Wayne think they are better. They don’t have troubling lives or have to dress up as a clown and go into hospitals to cheer up sick kids to earn money. He tries to do stand up comedy to earn money but fails and becomes the laughingstock of Gotham. The failed comedian’s descent into insanity inspires a violent revolution against the wealthy people in decaying Gotham City. 

I would recommend* “Joker” to any Batman fan in the world because, personally, being a huge Joker fan myself, I loved this film. I give this film a 5 out of 5 star rating.

*Disclaimer: “Joker” is rated R and recommended for mature viewers.

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