The New Joker Trailer Proved Me Wrong

Did you know they are making a standalone Joker movie?

Truthfully, when I first heard about this film, it sparked not one bit of interest from me for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I believe the Joker is one of those characters that exists best on the fringes.  The less we know about him, the better.  The Dark Knight nailed his character by telling us virtually nothing about him.  To devote an entire movie to his origin, I thought, would weaken his character and provide too little content.

Secondly, I’m one of the few people who really enjoyed Jared Leto’s take on the Joker.  I’m not yet ready to cast that Joker aside in favor of this new one.  I appreciated Leto’s Joker because it was both classic and unique at the same time.  I’ve never encountered a Joker quite like that, yet his look struck me as comfortably familiar as well.  The contradictory interpretation suited Joker nicely.

Furthermore, I heard rumors that this Joker would not connect to any of the other DC movies and would, for all intents and purposes, be a standalone in an alternate reality.  Now listen, I’m a fan of the DC Multiverse.  I’ve often said that Warner Brothers needs to lean into this concept and really play up the Earth 1, Earth 2, etc. concept.  Fans would easily be able to grasp it.  However, the initial description of the movie didn’t sound like the Joker at all.  For example, they gave him a name, Arthur Fleck, and placed him in the 1980s.  Worst of all, it was said he would just be a failed comedian who loses his mind and dons the makeup.  No mention of Batman.  It’s been argued that Batman is the driving motivator of Joker’s mayhem, especially because it was partly Batman’s fault that the Joker fell into the vat of chemicals resulting in his madness.

All of these things deterred me from thinking I would like this movie.

And then, this morning, the first trailer dropped.  If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look …

I was wrong.

Totally.

Utterly.

Completely.

Wrong.

They are doing everything it takes to completely win over my interest, and that’s by giving me the totally unexpected.  I did not anticipate the unsettling tone regarding Fleck’s descent into madness.  And though I knew Joaquin Phoenix could act, I did not think he’d deliver such a disturbed character.  I could not predict changing the Joker’s “look,” though ever so subtly,  would render him even more terrifying.  They have captured something with Joker, something profoundly … creepy.

This trailer validates taking the film into a remote part of the DC Universe.  While you could argue the fact that this movie doesn’t even have to be the Joker, it could be any clown-based criminal, the fact that it is an iteration of the classic villain makes it all the more ominous.

After all, we know just how awful the Joker really is.  We know that this Fleck character is destined to become one of the most evil fictional villains in pop culture.  Watching him get beaten up and kicked by life time after time after time in the trailer’s short time span really strikes a nerve because we know that many of our mass murderers were similarly bullied in life.

Which leads me to my only real concern about Joker.  Because it’s so clearly detached from the other DC movies, I don’t mind the thorough exploration of his origin.  I actually think it’s totally appropriate to display every single life-altering tragedy that drives a man into criminal insanity in this context.  However, I am worried that they are going to make him sympathetic or even an anti-hero.  I don’t want to feel bad for the Joker, and I say this because he is so heinous.  Mind you, I’m generally not against villains being sympathetic.  But Joker?  No, we can never feel sad for the Joker.  (Of course, Joker has proven me wrong in every other facet, so it will probably do so again in this case as well.)

Joker seems to have tapped into something very special.  It’s unafraid, primal treatment of such a visceral character appears to be creating a film full of raw, unflinching emotion.  I know it certainly struck a nerve with me.  What do you think?  Let me know in the comments.

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s Dr. Nekros e-book series HERE

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This Suicide Squad Has Life!

I’m the first to admit that I never really cared for the Suicide Squad.  I’ve got the first issue seen below from it’s original publication in 1987, and I can tell you, as a ten-year-old at the time, it wasn’t really my thing.

I’ve been amused by their various incarnations throughout the decades, especially their appearance on the television show Arrow, but when I heard DC and Warner Brothers were committing to a feature film starring the squad, my jaw hit the ground.  With so many wonderful properties under the DC tent, they were not on my radar as a possibility.  Needless to say, my expectations were not high.

But then I started hearing rumors of actors interested in the film.  Will Smith, Tom Hardy, and Jared Leto are the real deals.  These are not actors who have to work in an ensemble film.  These are actors who can carry films just fine on their own.  And when the casting became official (read about it here), my jaw hit the ground again.  There must be something to this film.  If these guys want to be a part of it, the pitch must be excellent.

I’ll watch a Batman movie no matter what.  I’ll watch a Superman movie regardless.  You can always count on me for Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Cyborg, and the Justice League.  But the Suicide Squad?  Until a few days ago, I would have said no thanks.  But, with these actors playing Deadshot, Rick Flag, and Joker?

I’m in.

Goodbye Superman Returns

Over at Newsarama, they’re reporting that Warner Brothers has opted to reboot the Superman franchise, following the lead of dismissing Ang Lee’s Hulk with last summer’s The Incredible Hulk.  This means an all new, fresh start, also such as what they did with Batman Begins (which, I’m sure, had little influence on this unexpected decision).

Personally, I’m all for it.  Bryan Singer is a superb director, but I’m not sure he, nor the script, understood the essence of Superman.  Now, I want you to know, I’m no die-hard Superman fan, but even I have some basic needs that must be satisfied when dealing with the Man of Steel.

Superman needs to be courageous, noble, charismatic, and respectable.  Superman Returns gave us a Superman that was a stalker, an illegitimate father, and a deadbeat dad with an unhealthy messiah complex.  Furthermore, Superman Returns basically offered the same real-estate plot as the original Superman when it came to his foe, Lex Luthor.

I loved the Christopher Reeve and Richard Donner Superman – loved it! – and it will forever have a soft spot in my heart, but its time is over.  We still have it on DVD; let’s begin anew with our cinematic Superman mythos.

The Superman reboot should NOT rehash his origin – we all know it.  Let’s pound straight into the action.  Let’s have Superman with a worthy opponent such as Brainiac, Mongul, Metallo, or, what the heck, how about the daddy of all baddies: Darkseid.  Please, please, please don’t fall into the cliche of the “opposite hero” such as Bizarro and if Lex Luthor must be present, let it only be peripherally such as on advertisements and in headlines.  Save his actual appearance for a later movie; make him something we dread.  In other words, build him up as the ultimate villain and not a rabid real-estate developer.

Along with big action and giving something super for Superman to do, give us a love story where he and Lois Lane actually seem to like each other.  Half his appeal is the love of an equally super woman.  I don’t care if she knows Clark Kent is Superman or not (it seems kind of insulting in this day and age that an award-winning journalist couldn’t put that little ditty together), the dynamic could work either way.  Just have them actually be in love for this old romantic. 

Superman is the best of our fictional super heroes – he is the beacon of light in the sea of despair.  He is the one who never gives up on his morals, his belief system, who always strives to do the right thing.  Please don’t darken him and make him “grim and gritty.”  What works for Batman does not, and never has, worked for Superman.

Finally, sorry Brandon Routh, but in my opinion, you just don’t have the spark in your eyes necessary to play the Man of Tomorrow.  When we look at Superman, we should see confidence, strength, intelligence, and ironically enough, humanity.  I’m afraid Routh never looked comfortable in the role.  Reeve had those things.  Finding another actor to so perfectly fill those red boots will be difficult, to be sure.

I’m excited about the reboot.  I’m excited to see a fresh approach to Superman that isn’t tied down to past continuity.  Again, I loved the old Reeve movies, but it’s time to do something different.

Just remember, the “S” on the chest isn’t what makes Superman so super, it’s all those things he is that each of us admires and aspires to become.