Joker Film: Will We Be Able to Laugh it Off?


Sydney Vaupel, Junior Staff Writer

The memorable super-villain known as the “Joker” was created by DC Comics in 1940, making the character 79 years-old. He’s appeared in several movies, various television shows, and animated films and shows as well. The character has always been extremely controversial, with his violent ways even making people feel uneasy just reading comics. Regarding the character, HHS Junior Taylor Perline remarks, “The Joker has been my favorite villain ever since I found out what villains were. I mean, when you think of villains, you think of the Joker.” 

The clown-like villain has recently had his origin story adapted into a live action film entitled Joker. The movie was directed by Todd Phillips (known for his involvement with A Star is Born and The Hangover series) and stars actor Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a mentally disturbed comedian who is abused by society. Fleck moves down a criminally gruesome path after he lets his earlier issues and the darkness of life consume himself. Ultimately, this darkness brings him to terms with his other identity: the “Joker”.

Now, with such a violent character, there’s bound to be a very violent and grisly origin story. Therefore, a film based upon this origin story would not be for the faint of heart. Aside from the film‘s extreme violence, the primary concern and controversy lies in two areas. The first being the Joker character’s “fandom” or fan base, and the other being the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting in 2012. Although it sounds odd, the fandom and shooting have a connection with each other. On July 20, 2012, a man named James Holmes entered a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises in a Century 16 movie theater while dressed up in tactical armor. Holmes, armed with multiple weapons, entered the theater and fired at the crowd viewing the movie, killing 12 people and leading to a total of 70 other injuries. “This is really not right. I can’t believe someone would be so twisted to go into a theater and do that to people. People go to a movie theater for peace and to escape from the real world, and somebody ruined that for no reason,” states Megan Toole, a junior at HHS. Holmes was then taken into custody, and while being held by the police, James Holmes continuously referred to himself as ”Joker” . 

Due to this horrific event regarding the vicious comic book supervillain, various families of victims from the attack banded together and sent a letter to the Warner Brothers company (the company who currently owns the rights to many DC Comic characters) as well as Director Todd Phillips. The letter claimed that the film glorified the character Arthur Fleck and made the Joker look more like a hero than a villain. Phillips responded to the letter and the backlash by stating: “Aurora is obviously a horrible, horrible situation, but even that is not something you blame on the movie. I just saw John Wick 3. He’s a white male, he kills 300 people, and everybody’s laughing and hooting and hollering. Why does this movie get held to different standards?”       

Ultimately, the Joker film wasn’t released at the Century 16 theaters in Aurora, Colorado as a result of the controversy and letter from the families, even though the film has made a worldwide gross of $745,120,278 and has very positive reviews from critics. Controversy has undoubtedly increased its popularity, and Joker may even be in the poll for Oscar nominations, most likely because of its dark, yet realistic story.