The Newest Jokester: Joaquin Phoenix on the Joker


Marissa Jacquez, Student Update Team

Over the years the Joker has been represented in many different ways. In the Joker, DC fans get a glimpse of what Warner Bros. sees when they think of the Joker. 

Since 1966, we have had several actors give their own interpretation of the Joker like Jared Leto, Mark Hamill, Jack Nicholson, Cesar Roman, Cameron Monaghan and now, Joaquin Phoenix. 

When asked who was better junior Nicholas Fries said, “I like Joaquin Phoenix better because he put a lot of effort into his portrayal. I didn’t like his voice very much. I thought Jared Leto had a much better Joker voice and Phoenix’s look was a lot nicer and fit the idea of the original Joker.”

Celebrities sometimes have to make crazy changes to their appearance like when Phoenix had to lose a drastic amount of weight for his part. He had to change his eating habits by either not eating some days or eating very little food. When in an interview, Jimmy Kimmel asked if Phoenix was diagnosed as anorexic. It was never stated in the comics that he was anorexic, he was indeed skinny but was not classified as anorexic but fit the idea in the comics that a mad man might forget to eat so he would be incredibly slender. 

In Warner Bros. version of the Joker, set in the 1980s about a failed stand-up comedian,  Arthur Fleck has his life thrown upside down from getting jumped, having his therapist and medication cut off, his mother getting sick, and getting fired from his job. The audience first sees a different side of the Joker when he breaks out in the Pseudobulbar Affect, which is a neurological disorder that makes a person laugh uncontrollably in inappropriate moments. The attack happens on the subway in Gotham City where three men are messing with a woman when Mr. Fleck starts laughing uncontrollably which alerts the men that something is off with him. This ends in a traumatic event. 

There are many arguments over this movie about mental health. Does it present a realistic version of what happens to a person with a mental disorder? Many people are very upset about how the movie portrays mental illness because mentally ill people don’t just go out and kill people when they are cut off from their medication. “In 1988, there was a study regarding 2,655 Homicides and it was reported that only 4.3 percent of the assailants had a history of Mental Illness.” (Mental Illness Policy

In this movie, the Joker is seen as a hero by other poor people in Gotham City. This starts a riot which causes half of the city to go ballistic. People start disguising themselves as clowns to hide their identities, and they destroy half the town. Police start to look for the criminal while Fleck’s delusions are occurring, whether it’s imagining a relationship with his neighbor or imagining being on a late-night show. 

Phoenix is able to create a wonderful rendition of the Joker by adding figurative dancing taught by choreographer, Micheal Arnold, and his deep, creepy laugh. 

When asked what she felt about the movie, senior Citlali Soto said, “It didn’t make sense; I mean it did, but it didn’t. I wish he would have become the Joker more in the middle of the movie then being the Joker then beating Batman.” 

The director Todd Phillips said in an interview that there’s a possibility of a sequel which will put many fans on the edge of their seat with excitement.