There’s a new Joker in town

Peter O'Neill

When the Suicide Squad trailer launched, it sent the internet into an excited frenzy. It seemed like there was finally going to be a new superhero franchise to rival the Marvel Cinematic Universe, whilst also focusing on a different aspect of comic books by focusing on the traditional villains in the story.

However, it’s obvious how badly the film failed, when despite having Warner Bro’s biggest ever opening weekend, no sequel is planned. Instead, we have Joker, a new film coming out this year.

The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as “The Clown Prince of Crime,” in what appears to be a typical origin story focusing on his descent into crime. Aside from the acclaimed Phoenix, the film has a stellar cast lined up.

The cast list features Robert de Niro alongside newer actors from the excellent TV show Atlanta, which inspires hope that this will be a great addition to the genre. However, only time will tell, and Suicide Squad shows how a trailer can be a lot more promising than the finished movie proves to be.

To Joker’s advantage, the film will be compared to Suicide Squad.  This will in no doubt benefit the film, however, it will most likely suffer when compared to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, released 11 years ago.

This new movie is going to have to be amazing for it to stand out from the shadow of Best Picture nominee, The Dark Knight’.

Heath Ledger’s performance as Joker in The Dark Knight not only gained him a Best Supporting Actor win but became the defining performance for the role.

At the end of the day, superhero movies probably shouldn’t be held in the same cultural world as larger pieces of fiction. One of the reasons Nolan’s film is still so successful was that it differed from the CGI sludge punch-em-ups that feature in the later Marvel films.

Although not perfect, it’s an engaging action movie with great performances from brilliant actors such as Christian Bale and Morgan Freeman.

Ironically because of Suicide Squad, the character of the Joker has become, well, a bit of a joke. For those whose brains have been fried by the ironic ‘Gamer Joker’ meme, it’s going to be really hard to take this movie seriously, even if it’s better than the previous movie from the DC universe. Even if you haven’t seen this variation of internet humor, most people will be aware of the “damaged” and “what are we?” jokes that followed the film’s release.

The film now stands along with XXXTentacion and The Nightmare Before Christmas as the icons of choice for “edgy” teenagers. Whilst that was profitable, it’s rare that something marketed at teenagers can achieve true greatness in the medium.

If it wants to stand apart from the previous two films, it needs to be something different. Directed by Todd Phillips from the Hangover Trilogy, maybe it will be.

Peter O’Neill

Image Credit: Adamsnerds