Passionate and at times hypnotic, Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of Arthur Fleck aka The Joker has surpassed Heath Ledger and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008) with a higher rating.
The 2019 psychological thriller ‘Joker’ is running in theaters this weekend. Joaquin Phoenix is being considered better than Heath Ledger as Joker and legacy. The hype around Todd Phillips’ eagerly anticipated film has translated into some serious Box Office numbers.
Fans are awed by Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of a twisted but empathetic and ‘human’ Joker, who leads Gotham into events that set the city on fire. Phoenix didn’t just carry the legacy of Heath Ledger forward, he might have arguably bettered the character. Contentious, but Phoenix’s Joker could be this year’s Oscar runaway.
Phillips’ Joker already has a higher IMDB rating than Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008). Fans have been placing bets on Phoenix to go one step beyond by winning the ‘Best Actor’ at the Oscars. Ledger won the ‘Best Actor in a Supporting Role’ posthumously for his portrayal.
Phoenix’s Joker better told that Ledger’s
In the movie, a failed-comedian-turned-killer Arthur Fleck becomes a cultural-icon and the face of a mini rebellion of sorts. Phoenix’s Joker is more empathetic. Ledger portrayed the dark side brilliantly, but Phoenix brings out the other side of Joker’s story.
He does it through a soft, and impressionable Arthur Fleck with a particular disorder that no one understands. The debate as to who’s the better Joker. has been going on long before the movie released in the theater. Phoenix doesn’t just do justice in carrying forward Ledger’s legacy, he demands a legacy of his version of the Joker.
Joaquin Phoenix’s ode to Heath Ledger’s Joker
Joker was first screened at the Venice Film Festival. Since then, the movie is in controversy. Joker had an estimated budget of $55-70 million. With that budget, Joker made the largest October domestic opening weekend of all time. It beat last year’s record set by Venom. The movie is one of DC’s biggest global grosser to date.
On IMDB, The Dark Knight starring late Heath Ledger as Joker had an impressive rating with 9/10 and 2.1 million votes. The Joker (2019) starring Joaquin Phoenix has a 9.1/10 rating from over 115,000 votes. Although Joker has received a lesser number of votes but it has a higher rating than The Dark Knight. Plenty of fans are totally floored by the work Phoenix did in Joker. Consequently, they now consider him better in the role than the late Ledger and even deserving an Oscar. Some even think Phoenix is the best Joker of all time, point-blank.
Joaquin Phoenix: The better Joker debate
As there are Phoenix-lovers, there are also Phoenix-haters. People who weren’t impressed enough by his performance. They sat Phoenix as Joker falls not only on the magnitude of Ledger’s iteration but also of the power of every Joker actor who preceded him.
The Joker has been a part of Batman’s lore since the character was invented. He remains arguably the most iconic comic book villain ever created. Heath Ledger redefined the character and won a posthumous Oscar for it. With so many different versions of the Joker in existence, no singular take on the iconic villain can be universally heralded as the best.
The movie screened at the Venice Film Festival, where Joker won the Golden Lion. With that, the movie is violent but not gory, its central character is a more profound Joker. Many are skeptical about what kind of social impact it could have on the wider culture during such politically tumultuous times. The movie was ‘too dark’ and ‘too intense’ and ‘uncannily justifiable..’. Critics have suggested that there should be a ‘trigger warning’ when it comes to people buying their tickets for the controversial film.
The movie shows Joaquin Phoenix attempting to smile and resort to holding the corners of his mouth up in a grin that stretches from ear to ear. A single tear rolls down his cheek unnoticed, pulling his make-up with it. So begins Joker. There’s not a burst of CGI in sight. And as the film begins you know you’re in for an emotional ride and its old school. Let’s delve a little deeper into the dark depths of Arthur’s mind and Joaquin Phoenix’s epic portrayal of Joker.
Phoenix carrying the legacy of Ledger
Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight was an unprecedented creation. Christopher Nolan focused on the antagonist, and Ledger delivered more than the director could possibly imagine. Phoenix is now carrying his legacy of Ledger in Joker.
In the climax scene, Joaquin Phoenix at the end of the film sees an older woman in the audience who seems to be enthusiastic witnessing his presence. He walks up to her and kisses her before sitting down. This is a tribute to the late Heath Ledger. The same scenario happened at a press conference in 2008 before his death. Back then, Heath Ledger was interrupted during an interview by a fan who was incredibly excited to see him. After seeing her so joyful, he walked over to her and gave her a kiss, after which point she fainted.
Joker leaves possibilities limitless
It’s been a while since a DC movie made it crazy big and dominated Oscars. Joker has inspired this much discussion. Fans are curious about what they’ll see next from the brand. Till now there are no plans to have Phoenix’s Joker fight Robert Pattinson in his upcoming Batman film. However, the ending of the movie is a cinematic masterpiece.
Gotham is in chaos. Joker has essentially ‘officially’ signaled the start of chaos. This leaves virtually limitless space for DC to match Ledger’s Phoenix with Pattinson’s Batman in the future and make Gotham the playground of the future. Birds of Prey is coming and then its Batman. The setting could see the entry of many more stars. Perhaps Joker is a turning in the Marvel vs DC Battles. The opportunities from here are exciting and unchartered.