‘Joker’ captivates audiences with refreshing perspective

Joaquin Phoenix portrays the iconic villain in a chilling, refreshing way.

Warner Bros

Joaquin Phoenix portrays the iconic villain in a chilling, refreshing way.

Evelyn Robertson, Editor

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“Joker” directed by Todd Phillips, has smashed the previous box office record for highest-grossing R-rated movie, surpassing Deadpool 2’s $785.5 million. Having raked in $788.1 million dollars, it is clear that fans were eager to see Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of the iconic villain.

“Joker” presents a refreshing take on the villain’s perspective and his slow spiral into one of Batman’s most notorious enemies. The dark, self-pitying tone of the movie is enough to evoke unease and a feeling of sympathy for the characters.

Phoenix stars as Arthur Fleck, who struggles immensely with the burdens of mental illness. Fleck is out of place in a hateful society filled with crime and greed. Bullied by adults and even children around him, Fleck struggles to fit in.

Phillips strayed from the overly- recycled plot used in most adapted films originating from comic books. Phillips’s’ focal point was Fleck’s internal and external battle with himself and his surroundings as his mental illness prevented him from fitting in. Viewers understood the transition of Fleck’s character, from being denied medication and therapy, to receiving a loaded gun to protect himself. The insight showed the viewer why and how Fleck became the Joker. Although the movie never discloses Fleck’s diagnosed illness, it’s understood that Fleck has suffered immense abuse and neglect because he is different from those around him.

This portrayal of mental illness through a character that most people grew up viewing as the “bad guy” is important for future films. Phillips’s directing techniques made it difficult not to feel somewhat protective over Fleck while he struggled with his environment. These feelings slowly peeled away as Fleck’s descent into madness began.

Phoenix’s character was drastically different at the beginning of the film, compared to the end, as the Joker’s full character arc and descent into madness are portrayed.

The movie did not portray the Joker as a character with the sole purpose of disrupting Batman and wreaking havoc, rather he was portrayed as a troubled human who eventually endured enough abuse and neglect to be pushed to his breaking point. The dark tone resonates deeply because there is no superhero to step in and save the day. We are introduced to the Wayne family, including a young Bruce Wayne, better known as Batman, still in his childhood. This twist on the storyline makes it clear that there is no “good guy” in this film to stop the madness.

Fleck’s mental illness manifested and the tone became darker as viewers witnessed his descent into madness. Paired with a chilling score, composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir, and
eerie improvised scenes by Phoenix, “Joker”