‘Joker’ strikes controversy

Since Oct. 4, Joker has earned over $600 million in the box office. With countless tickets being sold, controversy over the movie only continues to grow. 

Joker is being called the worst and best movie of this Oscar season. Critics have been in constant debate over the movie’s relevance, and its connection to violence. The Joker has always been a character renowned for his psychotic and violent nature, so why is this particular adaptation taking the world by storm?

The movie strays away from the Joker’s original comic book origins to provide a new beginning for Batman’s most notorious nemesis. The storyline follows aspiring comedian Arthur Fleck as his mental illness combats with the society of Gotham. Fans need to remember that this is Gotham before Batman appeared to save the day. The movie displays the more impoverished side of Gotham and its residents, including the Joker.

At the beginning of the movie, Arthur is shown as a good guy. He works as a party clown, takes care of his mom, and just wants to make people laugh. It’s this warm beginning that really draws people to this character. How does the guy who just wants to make everyone laugh became the infamous Clown Prince of Gotham?

The movie shows how much a broken society like Gotham can affect one person. One of the first scenes shows Arthur being jumped during one of his clown gigs. Arthur is constantly being kicked down throughout the entirety of the movie. He suffers humiliation and physical beatings that eventually drive him over the edge. 

Although I understand how the violence inserted into the film could be seen as a statement, I don’t think director Todd Phillips meant to condone violence with this movie, but simply tell the story of the iconic villain in a new and unique way. 

After performances by past Jokers, Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson, Joaquin Phoenix had some big clown shoes to fill in this movie. Phoenix did not disappoint audiences with his portrayal of the character. Phoenix really helped audiences see Arthur as just another citizen of Gotham. Phoenix really delves into the character’s emotions, and his portrayal of the Joker’s descent into madness is enough to give anyone chills.

This movie is by far one of the most thought-provoking films I’ve ever seen. I recommend seeing it before it leaves theaters, whether to witness Phoenix’s astounding performance, or to simply witness the origin story of such an iconic villain in a new way.