‘Joker’ Delves into the Mind of an Iconic Batman Villain


Warner Bros.

Joaquin Pheonix as Arthur Fleck

Theresa Neal, Copy Editor


Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t yet seen the film, stop reading after the fifth paragraph.

After premiering at the 76th Venice International Film Festival last August, Joker arrived in theaters across the U.S. on Oct 4. The film offers a unique look at one of the most iconic villains in American culture through the unassuming Arthur Fleck.

We see his connection to the Wayne family and glimpses of Arkham Asylum (called Arkham State Hospital in the film). While these references are present and we do see a young Bruce Wayne, the film isn’t like anything else in the Batman universe. Instead, it focuses on Fleck’s life as a party clown, his relationships, and his desire to be a comedian. This allows the character to truly shine and be the spotlight of the film.

Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as Arthur Fleck is very believable and sympathetic. We feel for him throughout the movie and can see how and why he would snap. The character has uncontrollable laughing spells and Phoenix’s performance makes each one seem realistic, rather than silly. Because of his excellent performance as the character, I wouldn’t be surprised if Phoenix has secured a place for himself in this award’s season.

My only issue with the character is that he works on so many levels that he doesn’t necessarily need to be in the Batman universe. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the atmosphere of a 1980s’ Gotham, but this character could have appeared in any setting and the movie would have been just as good.

One of my favorite parts of the movie was seeing Robert De Niro as a talk show host. While his character, Murray Franklin, has his own personality, a lot of his scenes felt natural.

Another thing that I enjoyed about the film was that Arthur was an unreliable narrator throughout the film and this leaves the ending open to interpretation.

If you are looking for something like any of the action-packed Batman films we’ve seen in previous years, you may be disappointed. If you are looking for an artistic film that investigates the mind of a criminal in a dramatic and unique way, Joker is definitely worth checking out.

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