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The Three Jokers - DC on Film Opinion

21st Century Jokers on film.
Joaquin, Ledger, and Leto.
Joaquin Phoenix and director, Todd Phillips, gave us another interesting take on the Joker from Batman's rogues gallery, with their movie Joker. This has lead me to think about the three modern movie Jokers of the 21st century, i.e. Heath Ledger, Jared Leto, and, of course, Joaquin Phoenix. Specifically how they fit in relation to the character and in relation to Batman.

Joker - Joaquin Phoenix


This interpretation of Joker can definitely be seen as Day 1 Joker. He's just an unhinged guy in clown makeup. He's no match for Batman but he doesn't need to be since Batman is barely an idea in Bruce Wayne's head.

This Joker needs a few years to mature before going up against Batman. The fact that Joaquin's Joker would be older than Batman may give him some air of authority over Bruce that a Joker of equal age wouldn't command.

I personally don't buy that the Joker is a response to Batman. They may become yin-yang to each other but Joker's origin was never really as shallow as wearing a costume because Batman does (or because he's scared of clowns in the same way Bruce was scared of bats).

I've also never seen Joker as someone who would go up against Batman in a hand to hand fight. He's far too smart for that. Joaquin's Joker isn't dysfunctionally insane either. Sure he sees things from time to time that are all in his head but he's very clear on his plans when he sets his mind on a goal.

Personally if we see this Joker again I'd love to see him a few years on, going up against a Batman that's still finding his feet and refining his detective skills.

The Joker - Heath Ledger


Heath's Joker could be Joaquin's Joker with a few years under his belt. When we meet him in The Dark Knight he's fully realized as the Joker but has not yet made a name for himself in Gotham City. However he's connected enough to have henchmen and to orchestrate some pretty major blows against the city and its mob bosses.

As much as Heath's Joker claims not to scheme or make plans, destroying a hospital is not something you do on a whim - there's some serious behind the scenes logistics going on there. Not to mention sewing a mobile phone detonator inside a person in order to escape jail must have required some pre-planning.

Heath's Joker is widely regarded as the best on screen Joker in terms of being true to the character. It really is a shame we only got to see him in one movie.

That said, Joaquin's take on the character, while not the same as Heath's, clearly could exist in the same kind of world, giving that similar vibe of uneasy edginess the character needs.

The Joker - Jared Leto


Suicide Squad's Joker, played by Jared Leto, wasn't well received by fans. Personally, it's not my favorite version but I didn't dislike this interpretation either.

I think the key to Jared's Joker is understanding that this version has been the Joker for a long time. Just like Ben Affleck's Batman, in this DCEU, this Joker is world weary, and even more established as a crime boss. He has the resources to commandeer military equipment and even a military helicopter.

He seems less about causing chaos and more about being evil and threatening just because he can. He's much more a force of nature than even Heath's Joker.

He may not be my favorite Joker but I'd still be happy to see him be given a proper film where he goes up against Ben Affleck's Batman. This Joker should never have been relegated to a cameo in a Batman spin off movie.

With more time audiences could have understood what Jared's Joker was all about. I'm hoping there's still a chance given this DCEU isn't dead with the upcoming releases of four movies set in the same time line including; Birds of Prey, and Suicide Squad 2, which both have direct connections to Jared's Joker.

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Anyhow, those are some of my thoughts on these three 21st century Jokers. Since we're unlikely to ever see Heath's Joker again (unless they Peter Cushing or James Dean him), would you like to see Joaquin's Joker go up against Batman? What about Jared's Joker? Would You like to see where that version was going with more screen time and story?

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