Joker

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The Art of the Unreliable Narrator in Joker

One of the important and rather interesting aspects of Joker is Arthur’s position of an unreliable narrator. He invents an entire relationship with a female character in the film, which makes the question of his paternity that arises later even more interesting, with questions around whether his mother did the same, based on the reaction from the Waynes when he attempts to investigate.

Arthur’s lack of reliability also seems to suit the typical murky origins of the Joker character, as having appeared out of nowhere and not really having a clear "origin" compared to the other characters in the DC universe.

Explore the use of unreliable narration in the film. How does it contribute to the film’s overall message? If there weren’t these same questions in the film, how would the film have changed?

Feel free to draw on other examples of unreliable narrators in film or fiction, or on other depictions of the Joker for examining this.

  • This is an excellent topic. Also could look at a film like American Psycho with Christian Bale as another example of a unreliable narrator. – Sean Gadus 3 weeks ago
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  • It could extend even further, you could look at other works based on this like memento, shutter Island, fight club, mr robot. Plus it could also be a discussion about how the audience will side with the character they've spent the most time with despite their actual actions. As an example, despite Walter white's actions the audience still roots for him to win. – Shinji15 3 weeks ago
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  • Something to be cautious of or to jump into is especially his mental illness. Some believe that the Joker is a terrible portrayal of those with mental illness, that it’s too extreme. Is there a way to think about how this unreliable narration could be a source of that? That maybe Arthur views himself as worse than he is? The portrayal of himself is very fascinating. – lizzietheck 3 weeks ago
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  • Agreed with Sean... EXCELLENT TOPIC!! It may be helpful to reference characters like the narrator from Fight Club, Amy from Gone Girl, and Leonard from Momento... These are the three most unreliable narratives I can think of throughout any film that I've ever seen. Hope this helps!! – carly 2 weeks ago
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  • The best instances of unreliable narrator I've seen show up in the works of Caitlin Kiernan. Both the author and many of her characters have schizophrenia, and so in any given story it's often virtually impossible to tell whether something's really happening to a character or whether they're just imagining it. – Debs 2 weeks ago
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Did the controversy and moral outrage surrounding Joker help boost the film's profile?

Todd Philips’s Joker film is the most talked about film of the fall. When the film premiered, some critics lauded it as a masterpiece while others expressed dissatisfaction and outrage over the content within the film. With Joker passing $900 million dollars at the box office, it is apt to discuss the factors that contributed to the film’s success. With this in mind, did the controversy and outrage circulating around the film provide easy/free marketing for the film and bring attention from mainstream media outlets that otherwise would have spent less time covering and discussing the film?

  • Fix some of the minor grammar errors please. I think this topic is definitely relevant and has room for debate since we can easily list other controversial movies that did NOT gross successfully at the box office (looking at you Last Temptation of Christ) as a means of providing counter examples to show the movie must have had other factors involved in its success. – Will Nolen 4 months ago
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  • A good topic, but there are some errors."Philip's" --> "Phillips's""the factor" --> Should this be "the factors"? – Emily Deibler 4 months ago
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  • I feel like the controversy absolutely would have made it more popular. There is the old saying "any publicity is good publicity." – Debs 3 months ago
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  • I think I it's absolutely a topic worth exploring as we are all affected by the media around us in multiple ways both great and small. However, to explore this further you would need to expand upon other factors that would have sparked a major market interest: Todd Phillip taking a huge tonal shift away from the likes of The Hangover Trilogy, a strong a popular IP getting a solo outing, the inevitable comparison that is always rife with a new iteration of the Joker as a character not to mention a film that was marketed as a breath of fresh air in an otherwise heavily formulaic genre and industry. Something different was to be said with this film whether good or bad and I think these factors made it a popular talking point and a must-see for many people regardless of the conversations surrounding it. – CAntonyBaker 3 months ago
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3

Interpreting the Joker

The Joker is one of the most iconic supervillains in popular culture. He has been brought to life via the standout performances of numerous actors including Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Jared Leto and most recently Joaquin Phoenix. While the Joker has usually been presented playing against the Batman, Phoenix’s Joker is unique in that it provides us a character study of the villain’s origins without relying on the presence of the Batman. But is it possible to define a Joker in the absence of a Batman? Who would he be in that case?

  • I just saw the film and think this is an excellent topic. The 2019 film brings this question to the forefront of any discussion of character's identity. – Sean Gadus 4 months ago
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  • The Riddler – L:Freire 4 months ago
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  • I'll be the first to admit that I didn't think a Joker standalone would work in any capacity without the involvement of Batman. That said, while the movie has shown there is merit to seeing an origin of his devoid of Batman's presence, I think his absence takes away a lot of the depth of who he is after his transformation. – Ben 4 months ago
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  • @L:Freire This comment made me giggle, given I'm greatly into the Batman lore, and the Riddler to me comes by as both one of the most comical and narcissistic individuals in the Batman showcase of villains.@Ben I think it depends on the interpretations I guess cause could it be taken as a loss of depth that the Joker is the result of the society that Batman's own father was a part of, or the fact that the "killing joke" at the end of the movie is the fact that Joker's actions inadvertently result in the death of Bruce's parents leading to Batman's birth, thus showing that they are both two sides of the same coin. – ajaymanuel 4 months ago
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  • Well, it's like the law of binary. You need one to let the other survive. Joker is the extreme alter ego of Batman, someone who Batman can never be. Batman needs Joker because the latter defines his existence. I would even go as far to say that Joker atleast has an identity in the first place, Batman forms his identity in relation to that. – spriyansh 4 months ago
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Will The Joker Impact The Direction of Warner Bros/D.C. Films Going Forward?

The release of Todd Phillips’s Joker film is imminent. With Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, the film received honors and praise at the Venice Film Festival. Though the film has been generating controversy for its content, the film is projected to have an opening week of about $80 million dollars when it debuts on October 4th. This is a massive projected gross for a R rated film. Will the critical and potential commercial success of stand alone (and more mature) films like Joker influence the direction of Warner Bros. and D.C.’s future films?

  • I notice that you write about Batman quite consistently. But, this new chapter in the scheme has definitely caught my attention. I watched with awe at Cesar Romero in the 1966 TV series, Jack Nicholson in 1989, and the role that brought me back into the mix, Heath Ledger in 2008. Don't see why this highly anticipated depiction would disappoint. I would like to see a good block of writing on Heath Ledger's outstanding and highly acclaimed characterization. – L:Freire 5 months ago
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  • I think this is a valid question to ask and unless this movie somehow becomes a stunning flop (which, let's be honest, is unlikely) then I think it will have a major impact on future D.C. films. Taking in the poor reviews for Suicide Squad and other D.C. films lately, it appears that D.C. definitely wants to go in a more artsy and niche direction, something that previously hasn't existed (at least to my knowledge) for comic book adaptations. I think D.C. has been criticized a lot for its inconsistency in regard to the tone of their movies, and this new Joker movie may solve that problem for them. – BakerQ 5 months ago
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