Joaquin Phoenix offers a performance prelude to Heath Ledger

If you were to watch The Dark Knight after watching Joaquin Phoenix in the new ‘Joker,’ the two movies would bleed into one another almost seamlessly.

Although not quite explaining how the Joker rose from a mentally ill loner to a charismatic and intelligently manipulative “clown prince of crime,” the movie does encapsulate how he rose to crime fame — almost accidentally.

Without spoiling the movie; using grotesque themes of crime, slow-burning cinematography and intense depictions of mental un-wellness, the movie creates an air of anxiety and discomfort to the audience as the main character Arthur Fleck, awkwardly moves through life with the complete understanding of the uneasiness he brings upon those around him and no knowledge in how to stop it.

“I haven’t been happy one minute of my entire (expletive) life,” is a line Fleck uses to describe his situation.

Thus making the movie a melancholists manifesto.

Director Todd Phillips’ has already stirred up strong reactions to its unapologetic violence and moral ambiguity in that way that the movies storyline is cultivated onscreen.

Unfolding like a crumpled chip bag, Fleck is portrayed as a lonely-turned-nihilistic outcast who sees the world as cruel and unjust and some viewers have worried that the movie glorifies revenge and could incite people to mimic the villain’s actions.

However, Philips portrayal of Batman’s nemesis has already beaten Venom for it’s box office revenue record.

In the morning of Tuesday, October 8, it was announced that the movie will top $300 Million worldwide. The film earned another $9.72 million on Monday, a drop of 60% from its $24.375 million Sunday gross, which is just barely the biggest Monday ever in October, and above the $9.4 million gross of Venom on this frame last year.

Much like Ledger’s performance, Phoenix left the audience wanting more.

At the end of the day, leaving the audience wanting more is how a film comes out victorious, even when there’s no intention for a sequel or another appearance. For the moment, it’s been said there won’t be a Joker sequel, but fans are heavily behind a follow-up to know what became of this man. The questions over his in-universe future are endless, and we’ll be talking about it for a while.

Unfortunately for Jared Leto’s Joker persona, his character has been pretty much dropped for the time being, as he isn’t appearing in Birds of Prey, and won’t be reprising his role for The Suicide Squad either. Had fan interest been there, then you could be certain we’d be seeing his return, but fans had their fill of Leto’s Joker even in the ten minutes we saw him in Suicide Squad.

It has been rumoured that Phoenix worked extremely hard for his portrayal which included an extensive mental preparation for a role that exhausted him in real life and he even lost more than 23 kgs to play the mentally unstable character.

Trying to outdo Ledger though is a mould that one can not possibly break at all. But Phoenix safely paved his way into the hearts of critics and viewers and everyone is mostly loving his work.

In tribute to Ledger though, and this is a bit of a spoiler: nearing the end of the movie when Arthur arrives on the ‘Live With Murray Franklin’ show, he spots an old lady near the couch and immediately walks up to her and kisses her which baffles everyone.

This scene has fans convinced is the tribute to Ledger. Back in 2008, during the promotions of The Dark Knight, Heath was being interviewed by a host when a fan spotted him and began exclaiming excitedly. Ledger in response, casually walked up to her and kissed her, exactly how Fleck does in the movie.

It is a movie that will quickly become an October and Halloween staple.

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