Joker Final Trailer

Is the Oscar buzz warranted?

from Trailer

(Photo: NIKO TAVERNISE)

from Trailer

Breana Knighten, A&E Editor

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From Caesar Romero’s timeless interpretation to Heath Ledger’s realistic and memorable twist, the Joker is unequivocally one of the most iconic villains of our time.  However, one thing every adaptation seems to be sorely missing is a definitive origin story.

When asked about the protagonist, Batman, even casual fans could undoubtedly recall his backstory, whilst it seems no one can agree on the Joker’s true character, seeing as his storyline refuses to stay stagnant from character to character. It is even stated by him in the comics: “Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another… if I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!” cementing the belief that perhaps there isn’t one objective backstory

At least, that was the case until this Wednesday when Warner Brothers released a trailer for Joker, the latest adaptation of a classic villain starring Joaquin Phoenix. This movie, rather than leave our main character’s origin story shrouded in mystery, chooses to begin the narrative with Arthur Fleck: an aspiring stand up comedian who will eventually become Joker.

Something I found interesting about Phoenix’s character was that he starts off portraying a seemingly stable character. In the early stages of the trailer, he is seen dancing with his mother and on a date. Granted, we are shown his struggles with his mental health through interaction with his therapist, but he still seems to be in a decent place. This film does not focus on the diabolical villain we know and love, but rather a man: Arthur Fleck, and his descent into the chaos that truly encapsulates the spirit of the Joker.

It is this factor that makes the Oscar buzz so early on completely warranted. Not only does Hollywood seem to have an affinity towards Joker adaptations (clearly displayed with the critically acclaimed Dark Knight as well as Suicide Squad, which, despite the backlash, received an Oscar for makeup), it is premiering at the Venice Film Festival, where several main Oscar contenders from last year premiered. In addition, Phoenix has yet to win an Oscar in spite of his multiple nominations and consistently incredible performances. Director Todd Phillips has seemingly created a perfect storm of circumstances that have set Joker on an early path to success.

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