This week, Todd Phillips’ Joker will be entering cinemas around the world. The new release, starring Joaquin Phoenix, takes a brand new approach to The Clown Prince of Crime and offers an exciting origin for one of DC’s most beloved and feared villains.
To celebrate Warner Bros. upcoming release, the team are taking a look at some of the most memorable and iconic Joker moments. Here you can read Neil’s favourite Joker moments. But today it is James’ turn.
5. Arkham Asylum
Choosing a favourite Joker moment is no easy task since there are so many brilliant stories and moments. However, after watching The Dark Knight in 2008 the Arkham Asylum game was one of my earliest introductions to the Joker.
Very quickly, the Arkham series (minus Origins, sorry) became my favourite gaming series. I can proudly say that I was very good at Arkham City and the only gaming achievement I have is getting a 700 combo on one of the challenges. But I digress.
With so many brilliant moments from the Arkham series, much like Neil, one of the best has to be the prologue of Arkham Asylum. What makes this section so interesting is that as a gaming prologue it is incredibly uneventful. All you do is walk with the Joker. But it’s the intense atmosphere and the feeling that something isn’t quite right that makes it one of the best introductions. You also can’t forget Mark Hamill’s contribution. The opening dialogue is funny and twisted and is executed perfectly by Hamill. His voice is absolutely haunting.
4. The Dark Knight Returns
The Joker doesn’t have the biggest role in Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns but the little side story featuring the Joker just stayed with me. We saw a Joker that was seemingly reformed and ready to rejoin society. Obviously, it was all a ruse. But seeing the Joker in a new light was very intriguing. Instead of a chaotic Joker that we are familiar with, we’re presented with a calm and calculated character… until it all goes wrong.
The bit that stayed with me the most though was the final confrontation between Batman and The Joker. Unlike other fights, this fight is incredibly brutal. Joker takes a batarang to the eye and Batman is stabbed several times. What makes this fight so captivating is its conclusion. Batman has paralyzed the Joker but to get the last laugh the Joker breaks his own neck and successfully frames the Caped Crusader for his death. The panels are incredibly disturbing but it was such an exciting and unique story to tell.
3. A Death in the Family
1988’s iconic story, A Death in the Family, shocked many comic book fans, and rightly so. What the Joker did to Batman in the 4 issue series has continuously haunted the Dark Knight to this day.
As pointed out by Neil, what I didn’t realise was how much Jason Todd was despised by fans. As a result, fans were able to choose whether Robin would live or die. Obviously, the people voted and decided to kill the young boy wonder… wow, cold.
With the votes in, the Joker captured and beat Robin with a crowbar before blowing the building up. While this was a tragic thing to happen, it actually had 2 massive benefits.
- The audience got rid of Jason Todd.
- Jason Todd would then return as the Red Hood and become one of the most popular characters in the Batman universe.
It was a win-win situation. However, despite the hate towards Jason Todd, the image of seeing the Joker beat him to a pulp is one that won’t ever be forgotten.
2. The Killing Joke
This is arguably one of my favourite graphic novels of all time and I’m sure many would agree. The 1988 graphic novel written by Alan Moore has maintained a special place in the Joker’s history and, indeed, in the Dark Knight’s history.
When I read it, this was time witnessing the Joker go all out. Fans have seen how evil the Joker can be but The Killing Joke turned it up a notch.
The haunting and rather chilling story showed Joker crippling Barbara Gordon with a gunshot wound to the spine. He then tortures and torments Jim Gordon at an abandoned and creepy funhouse. One bit that terrified me was the Joker sat upon a throne surrounded by baby dolls and his creepy minions.
The graphic novel is incredibly violent both physically and mentally and it proved to be too much for Batman. Ending with a joke, the Joker finally makes Batman laugh and it is up to the reader to decide why the laughing stopped.
The obvious answer being that Batman broke his one rule.
1. Heath Ledger- The Dark Knight
I don’t think I need to say much about this really. What’s interesting is that when I was younger, a lot younger, I hated Batman Begins. I wanted crime fighting action, explosions and the typical superhero film. As I matured, I soon realised why the Nolan films worked so well. When The Dark Knight came out I was absolutely blown away but its incarnation of the Joker.
We were presented with a very grounded, crazy, yet controlled criminal who inflicted so much physiological damage that it effected the entirety of Gotham. This wasn’t just a war with Batman, if anything, it was a war on Gotham that was ignited by Batman’s arrival. Batman was just a tool that aided the Joker.
What’s most interesting about the Joker in The Dark Knight is that he won. Despite him being absent in The Dark Knight Rises, his presence is felt throughout and the events of The Dark Knight have a domino effect. Unlike other superhero movies, Batman isn’t victorious.
Obviously, it’s hard to forget Ledger’s performance. The Costume department and make-up absolutely nailed it. He looked amazing. But it was Ledger’s mannerisms and dedication that brought the Joker to life in such a surprising way. His role will absolutely go down in History.
Get ready for The Joker
Joker centres around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), a man disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.
The film stars Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, also starring are Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, Josh Pais, and Shea Whigham.
Phillips directs from a screenplay he co-wrote with writer Scott Silver, based on characters from DC. The film is being produced by Phillips and Bradley Cooper under their Joint Effort banner, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff. It is executive produced by Richard Baratta, Joseph Garner and Bruce Berman.
Joker is in cinemas now! For all our Joker coverage head to our archive!