Things Movies Always Get Wrong About The Joker
- Published: 30 September 2019
- Thumbnail Image by Bosslogic → instagram.com/bosslogic/
He's been a fixture of every single big-screen Batman franchise, but the cinematic attempts at the Joker have never really lined up with the version that we see in the comics. Even when they're great performances with iconic visuals, there's always something that the movies get wrong.
We've all seen Thomas and Martha Wayne get shot down in an alley about 47 times, so we all know that superhero movies love to give their viewers an origin story. It's not just for the good guys, either — almost every villain who steps onto the screen brings a whole backstory with them. Normally, that's not a problem, and can actually give those villains the pathos that makes for a compelling story. In the Joker's case, however, it's the exact opposite.
The biggest offender in this regard is, of course, Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film, in which Jack Nicholson took on the role of the Clown Prince of Crime. Not only do we get a full origin story, his past gets tied back into Batman's own origin so that we can wrap everything up in a nice bow, which ultimately makes him less interesting. We see that he's a weird, catchphrase-spewing homicidal maniac long before he tumbles into a vat of acid. The only real difference, aside from an admittedly iconic look, is that he gets slightly more artistic with his murders.
For a while, it seemed like the movies had learned their lesson on this front. The Joker that we saw in The Dark Knight shows up fully formed and even offers conflicting versions of his own origin depending on who he's talking to.
Eve more recently, Jared Leto's version in Suicide Squad is downright inexplicable in pretty much every way. Now, though, we have an entire movie about the Joker's origin, without any signs of Batman, set for release this year. Hopefully this time, they'll finally be able to get rid of all that compelling mystery he's been burdened with for so long!
Fans have long accepted the idea that it's Batman who's Bruce Wayne's true identity, and not the billionaire playboy alter-ego, and it's a good rule of thumb. And yet, the movies treat the Joker, someone who exists specifically in response to Batman, as someone who always has to have that personal connection.
Admittedly, they do this with most of the villains as a little bit of origin story shorthand. In the Joel Schumacher films, the Riddler and Poison Ivy are both former employees of Wayne Industries, out for revenge against their old boss. The Joker, however, exists specifically to be a counterpoint to Batman. The person under the mask is basically irrelevant compared to the ideological battle being waged against the symbol. Keep watching the video to see the things movies always get wrong about The Joker!
Secret origins | 0:16
Bruce who? | 1:50
Poison smiles | 2:55
High (and low) crimes | 4:09
Disorganized crime | 5:45
Less is more | 7:22
We're destined to do this forever | 8:30
The punchline | 10:01