ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Arthur's Descent Into Notoriety: Joker

Updated on December 7, 2019
Source

Synopsis

In 1980s Gotham, Arthur Fleck is a man with few friends. He has mental issues, as well as a condition that leads to fits of uncontrollable laughter. Adopted by a single mother who is herself unstable, Arthur has not had a great support system. The movie Joker shows the descent of Arthur (Joaquin Phoenix) from an unpopular and often abused clown for hire to his beginnings as a criminal. Arthur has been seeing a social worker to address his behavioral issues, but that arrangement ends due to city budget cuts that mainly affect lower income people such as the Flecks. Greater trouble comes when fellow clown Randall (Glenn Fleshler) gives Arthur a gun. Arthur takes the gun to a job, and it falls out of his costume. After his employer fires Arthur, he gets harassed on the subway by three bankers. When he's had enough from them, Arthur pulls his gun and shoots them dead.

Once at home, he joins his bedridden mother Penny (Frances Conroy) in watching their favorite late night show, hosted by Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). Arthur especially likes the stand-up comedians, and takes notes so he can fashion a routine for himself. He tries out his material at a club's open mike night, and bombs. He later learns that someone taped his set, and sent it to Franklin's people. The show contacts him, and offers him a chance to appear on the show. Arthur accepts the offer, not knowing that Franklin plans to laugh at him. Meanwhile, Gotham police are on Arthur's trail as they connect him to the subway killings as well as other acts Arthur commits after that.

Evaluation

Joker captures its era well, but I still prefer the more compelling dark versions of Gotham from Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and the one presented in the former FOX TV series Gotham. Director and co-writer Todd Phillips seems derivative with his vision of the comic book burg of note. Like Lorene Scafaria in Hustlers, Phillips has drawn inspiration from the work of Martin Scorsese. Those familiar with the 1983 film The King Of Comedy, which was set in the same time as Joker. Both films involve one man's obsession with a talk show host. Also, both Arthur and Rupert Pupkin (played in The King Of Comedy by De Niro) are mentally unhinged, and bad at stand-up comedy. The lack of originality detracts from this film, but its fatal flaw lies in changing the nature of the ill-fated Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen). Before this, the Wayne patriarch had been consistently depicted as both wealthy and benevolent. Here, though, he shows little sympathy for Arthur or any other resident of Gotham who feels ignored. This move leaves Joker with no real protagonist, save for the minor roles of detectives Burke (Shea Whigham) and Garrity (Bill Camp) as they work to take Arthur into custody.

The best part of Joker is the performance of Phoenix as a troubled man who starts to make the transition into an enemy of Gotham. Already a man with demons, Arthur stops caring about those who stop caring about him. Even for those who care about him, Arthur shows he doesn't always understand boundaries, especially with Sophie Dumond (Zazie Beetz), who lives in the same apartment building as the Flecks and shares a frustration with Arthur regarding the conditions in the city. Arthur has yet to become the criminal mastermind that has been memorably portrayed on the big screen by both Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson, but he does find the impetus and focus in his troubled mind to arrive at the point of no return. De Niro was also good as Murray, the host who has no idea what kind of man he helps to unleash.

Conclusion

In their attempts to create villain origin stories, both DC and Marvel (with Venom) have fallen short in doing nothing but creating substandard work. Joker fares better than Venom for just one reason. Neither film comes close to creating an origin story as good as X-Men: First Class, which shows the reasons behind the rift between one-time friends Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, who becomes X-Men nemesis Magneto. Things could have been so much worse for Joker, though. It didn't wind up being as detestable as Catwoman.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Joker two stars. Enter and exit not laughing.

Joker trailer

© 2019 Pat Mills

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Mills 

      19 months ago from East Chicago, Indiana

      Thanks Mel. I'm glad you and your wife liked this movie. I'm not the biggest Todd Phillips fan. I don't think he'll ever top his work on the first Hangover movie. I also think he must have done just enough to avoid accusations of plagiarism from the estate of Paul Zimmerman, who wrote The King Of Comedy. I give high marks to Phoenix for making the Joker different and disturbing, but virtually every other element of the film pales in comparison to his work. At least the Marvel movies and some of the DC movies strive for more of a measure of originality than Joker did.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      19 months ago from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado

      I think I beat you to the punch on this one for a change, and sorry to say that I tend to disagree with you. I for one was not a fan of the Dark Knight series, but I loved this rendition of the Joker, which was more subtle and complex than what is typical in a comic book movie. In fact, this didn't feel like a comic book movie at all, which is probably why I enjoyed it, having become completely numb to the genre after so many cheesy CGI graphics and cookie cutter scripts. My wife, who is not a fan of comic book movies at all, also enjoyed this film.

      Nonetheless, great breakdown of the essence of the plot. You are right, you don't leave this movie laughing, because there is nothing at all funny about this Joker. Heath Ledger had his comic moments, but this is by far the gloomiest Joker ever.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)