If you haven’t heard by now WB/DC is planing on making a solo Joker movie. What you may not have heard is that they are planning on making it an origin story. I personally think this is a terrible idea and I’ll explain to you why.
There are actually three main reasons I think this is a bad idea. And to be clear this has nothing to do with the fact that I currently have no faith in the ability of WB to put out a good Superhero movie. Don’t get me wrong if they get the right people involved they can give us a descent movie, but that doesn’t seem likely. These are the people that rejected a Batman script written by the current to DC Comics writer and an academy award wining film writer. So again low expectations, but here are the reasons a Joker origin story is a bad idea.
One: The Joker is a force of nature. What do I mean by that? He’s a character that shows up, creates chaos and is only stopped when he is either presumed dead or captured by Batman. Think of the Joker like Hurricane Harvey You can prepare for the eventuality, but you can’t stop him and when he arrives his damage is felt by many. It scares us to know that power is out there, but we can only do so much, if anything to stop it.
The point being is this is a character with out remorse and with out sympathy. We aren’t meant to ever feel sympathy for him. Even in stories where the writers trick us into feeling something for the character he turns around and slits someone throat, just for a laugh, and we are back to hating him that quick. But when you give a character an origin you are trying to show the circumstances that lead them to be the character they are today, and this is usually done to help feel sympathetic for said character’s plight. If you give a character a noble reason for doing a bad thing you begin to think that the character can be saved. And when people feel that way toward a villain it neuters them in some way. It takes away their ability to scare us. When Joker is at his best he makes us examine the dark parts of ourselves. Where Batman and other heroes are meant for us to see the potential good in people Joker is there for us to see the potential evil in everyone. A sobering thought, but make him sympathetic and you take that away from him.
Two: Movie fans will think that this movie is cannon. I’m not talking the comic book fans, but the people who only get their comic book knowledge from the movies. They will think that what happens in this movie is cannon and it will a cause them to see the Joker in a different light, taking away some of his power as villain. But they will also ask you and I, the comic book loving community, lot’s of annoying and disturbing questions about Joker. Like, if Joker is this guy Jack Napier, why hasn’t the worlds greatest detective figure that out yet? And who has time for those philosophical debates? Also in the long run it can only server to damage the character’s over all appeal. Again if he represents the ultimate evil, but people know who/what that ultimate evil is they are no longer frightened or disturbed by it, they won’t care if he is around or not. I know it seems odd to say, but lessening his evil will eventually lessen his appeal as a villain.
Three: And finally it’s been done before and thrown away. Yes the biggest example of Joke origin stories are the Batman ’89 movie and The Killing Joke. Both have similar stories of how he becomes the Joker. He falls into a vat of chemicals that bleaches his skin and this causes him to have a psychotic break. Of course the major difference being that In the film he was a gangster set up by his mob boss in the Killing Joke he is a failing stand up comedian and goes on a job to raise money to help his family, but he ends up being the patsy for the criminals. And though parts of the killing joke were put into to cannon (Batgirl couldn’t walk anymore in the comics) it was recently retconed and the origin part was never taken seriously among fans. Why? Because we don’t want an origin. We never want to feel sympathy for the bogey man. We want a villain we can love to hate, so true fans will never accept an origin for Joker.
So those are my reason on why I’m again a Joker origin story. To simply sum it up I think it would so irreversible damage to the character of Joker. Maybe it wont, but I’m very doubtful. It could turn out to be a great film, but only time will tell.
For more on the Joker Origin film check out the latest episode of Super Hero Speak: http://superherospeak.com/wp/223-multiple-choice-origin/
Dave Markowski – Co-host, Content Creator, and Comic Reviewer for SuperHeroSpeak.com.
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