The Joker’s Not the Only Fool

JokerSPOILERS! PRETTY MAJOR ONES AT THAT! My wife wanted to see this one, which is perhaps kind of weird considering that I’m the one who’s more into comic-based movies, and that there were rumors it was misogynistic (which I don’t think it was, but more on that later). It seems like there have been a lot of killer clown movies as of late, not just It Chapter Two, but also 3 from Hell, even though Captain Spaulding didn’t actually get to kill anyone in it. I feel Joker was well-made, but kind of lacked direction. It feels like the writers brainstormed a bunch of reasons why the Joker might have gone nuts, then tried to incorporate all of them. He’s poor, he’s lonely, he’s socially awkward, he has a condition that makes him laugh inappropriately, he was abused as a kid, he’s mocked and bullied for his disabilities, people blame him for things that weren’t his fault, the city cuts off funding for his medication, he’s acting out against an unfair and repressive society. Granted, some of these things go together, and I have a general dislike for origin stories that trace all of a villain’s evil to just one event; but it kind of went in a bunch of different ways without really developing most of them. And his mental illness was basically whatever they needed it to be at any given time, which is kind of lazy, but I guess the fact he never got an accurate diagnosis was part of his problem. I can’t say I get why critics described the story as incel-friendly, though. Yes, he behaves inappropriately with a woman he barely knows, but it’s never his main motivation. Most of this story arc involves his hallucinating a relationship with a woman in his apartment building (played by Zazie Beetz, who was Domino in Deadpool 2, so does that add her to the list of people who’ve played both Marvel and DC characters?), only to show up in her apartment and realize it was all in his head. He doesn’t seem to hold any ill will toward the woman, however. He doesn’t take revenge on her like he does on several other people, and he’s never portrayed as blaming women in general or lack of sex for his killings, or even as being bigoted. What the movie does do is try to show sympathy for a murderer, certainly nothing new in the film world, but maybe something people are sick of by this point. How much did we hear about the Columbine shooters being bullied, only to find out later they were more often perpetrators than victims? Arthur Fleck is shown as a guy who has some potential for goodness. He genuinely wants to entertain, he seems to like children, and he takes care of his ailing mother. So is it society that made him a killer? Well, partially, but maybe not entirely. Overall, I think the fact that there isn’t much direction also makes it difficult to relate the Joker’s story to anything in real life, as it shifts focus so much. I will say it has some quite brutal moments, but what would you expect from this character? As far as its place in the Batman mythos, I’ve heard this is supposed to be a standalone not intended to be connected with any other Batman or Joker films. That means they’re presumably never going to do anything with how the Joker might possibly be Bruce Wayne’s half-brother (it’s left ambiguous, what with unreliable narrators), the characterization of Thomas Wayne as a total dick, or how the movie makes the Waynes’ death an orchestrated part of a general riot rather than something random. From what I’ve read, the film is set in 1981, but could people still smoke in hospitals then? Arthur and his mother also appear to have gotten a VCR before they were commonplace. Beth mentioned that this Joker seems less capable than the character’s portrayal in other movies. There have been a lot of takes on the Joker, but he generally seems to be confident, and Arthur is anything but. I guess he had time to hone his skills in between the ending of this film and when he fights Batman. I wonder if there’s any significance to the name they gave this Joker. The name Jack Napier from the 1989 Batman apparently did later make it into the comics, but I don’t know that it was ever totally official. Besides, a Jack and a Joker are totally different playing cards!

This entry was posted in Comics, Focus on the Foes, Health, Prejudice, Relationships, VoVat Goes to the Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Joker’s Not the Only Fool

  1. rocketdave says:

    I only just got around to watching this movie less than a week ago. I kind of wish I’d seen Joker before I became aware of the various controversies and what a piece of crap the director is, though even if I hadn’t had that stuff intruding on my thoughts as I watched it, I doubt it would have drastically improved my opinion. I thought it was not bad, but overrated.

    I don’t know how realistic it is that someone of Arthur Fleck’s limited means would be able to afford a VCR in the early 80s, but for whatever it’s worth, I do know that my family owned a VCR in 81. As you probably are aware, in Burton’s Batman, Joker’s name was partly a tribute to Alan Napier, who played Alfred in the 60s show, besides being a play on the word “jackanapes.” I have no clue how they came up with the name Arthur Fleck, though. When I saw P. Fleck written on the mailbox, my first thought was that it was some kind of crude urine joke. What I don’t get is how this guy is supposed to be Batman’s arch enemy when, by the time Bruce Wayne puts on the cape and cowl, Fleck will presumably be in his sixties… unless this kid starts fighting crime at a super early age, like the version of Bruce on the TV show Gotham.

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