Articles

Ways Joker Completely Ignored The Comics


The filmmakers behind Joker have been clear
that they never intended to adapt a specific comic with the movie. Now that we can all see the film for ourselves,
it’s obvious they meant it. Here are some of the biggest ways the Joker
of Joker is different from the comics. Spoilers ahead! Throughout Joker, Arthur Fleck undoubtedly
lives in a world of fantasy. As he’s watching a late night talk show with
his mother, Arthur imagines himself in the audience, eventually being called up to the
stage by host Murray Franklin. He has an imaginary relationship with his
neighbor Sophie, thinking she’s in love with him when she barely remembers his name. These fantasies call every event in the film
into question, making it easy to argue that the movie’s climactic scenes are also a kind
of fantasy. It’s possible to interpret most of the film
as simply Fleck’s imagination, and that he’s always been a patient at the mental institution
we find him in at the end. While the Joker of the comics is certainly
no less prone to delusion, we’re not seeing DC Comics solely from his point of view. Joker is not just a violent fantasy he’s real,
and his actions have consequences. While the Joker movie teases the possibility
of the plot being a grand delusion of Arthur’s, the Joker of the comics is a problem for everybody. One of the more predictable events at the
end of Joker is the slaying of Bruce Wayne’s parents. As Gotham erupts in violence, the Waynes emerge
from a theater showing 1981’s Zorro: The Gay Blade, and Thomas Wayne steers them down an
alleyway in hopes of avoiding the riots. Unfortunately, one of the clown-mask-wearing
rioters spots the family and follows them. He calls out to Thomas Wayne and tells him
he’s going to give him what he deserves. He kills the couple, yanking off Martha Wayne’s
pearl necklace in the process, and leaves the young Bruce Wayne helpless with his parents’
corpses. It’s possible you’ve seen all of this before. “No. Stop. No! Don’t go in there…” Even if we assume that we are meant to believe
the events of this scene actually do take place and aren’t just a part of Fleck’s imagination,
it diverges significantly from the comic book slayings of the Waynes. When Joe Chill kills Thomas and Martha Wayne
in the comics, there’s no overt political or social uprising at work. He doesn’t wear a clown mask, and their deaths
have nothing to do with the Joker, who won’t show up until 1940’s Batman #1 after the Waynes
have been dead for years and Bruce Wayne has already been crimefighting for a bit. The depiction of their killing that we see
in Joker is perhaps most similar to how it unfolds in 1989’s Batman; in that earlier
film, it’s Jack Napier the movie’s Joker who proves to be the Waynes’ murderer. We have no idea what the given name is of
the Joker of the comics. While it’s revealed to be Arthur Fleck in
Joker and Jack Napier in 1989’s Batman, in the comics Joker has no legal I.D. We don’t know if anyone knows his given name
we don’t even know if Joker himself remembers, assuming he even has one. Some comics have suggested there is an undefined
supernatural element to the Joker, and that he’s been alive in Gotham for centuries. The closest thing Joker has to an origin story
is in the 1988 graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, where we see flashbacks of Joker as
a failing stand-up comic who’s lured into a single night of crime to help support his
young wife and their unborn child, and it’s that same night that finds him plummeting
into a vat of chemicals that changes his life forever. Yet even in The Killing Joke, we never learn
the character’s given name not even his first name. As much as he hates his name, Arthur Fleck
should arguably feel lucky he even gets to have one. As much as Todd Phillips insists Joker isn’t
an adaptation from any comic, the story takes at least partial inspiration from The Killing
Joke. In the graphic novel, we catch glimpses of
a possible origin story in flashbacks as Joker works on his latest scheme. But even The Killing Joke is very different
from what we see in Joker and we all know Joker prefers his backstory to be multiple
choice. “Y’know, it’s funny. This reminds me of a joke.” In The Killing Joke, the young Joker is a
wannabe stand-up comic who, like Arthur Fleck, can’t get audiences to laugh. Unlike Fleck, the young Joker of The Killing
Joke doesn’t make up any fantasies that replace his audiences’ silence with laughter. He is painfully aware that he’s a failure,
and with his wife expecting a baby he agrees to join a group of crooks in robbing a chemical
factory. It’s the crime that leads to the comic’s fall
into a chemical vat, and his subsequent transformation into the Joker. On the surface, at least, the fact that both
early versions of the Joker are stand-up comics who aren’t any good at comedy is where their
similarities end. Arthur Fleck doesn’t have an unborn child
on the way. The only crimes he commits are ones he wants
to commit he doesn’t let any mobsters strong-arm him into it. And he also has nothing to do with the Red
Hood, the alias The Killing Joke’s young comic uses before his fateful transformation. The scenes in Joker of Arthur Fleck putting
on his makeup are some of the most quietly chilling in the film, whether he’s forcing
a smile onto his face so hard he tears up from it or spreading the make-up onto his
tongue. But the Joker of the comics doesn’t wear makeup
unless he’s trying to look normal. There is no definitive word on how it happens,
but the artificial and clown-like attributes of the Joker the bone-white skin, the green
hair, etc. are all typically permanent. Well, in Batman number 1, Joker does wear
make-up, but later origins reconned that out. In Batman: The Killing Joke, we get glimpses
of an origin story that shows Joker falling into a vat of chemicals. In fact, earlier in the graphic novel, the
fact that Joker doesn’t wear makeup is what lets Batman know the villain has escaped Arkham
Asylum. He visits the facility to talk to Joker but
figures out Joker’s escaped when he grabs the man he believes to be the criminal by
the wrist and white makeup comes off on his glove. Joker’s origin story in The Killing Joke isn’t
considered to be set in stone, but regardless, his skin, face, and hair will take more than
a shower to make it look like Arthur Fleck’s. We don’t see much of Arkham State Hospital
in Joker. Arthur visits it to get the file chronicling
his mother’s stay there. From what little we see of the facility, it’s
easy to spot fairly huge differences between it and its comic book counterpart. The Arkham Asylum of the comics is a crazy
mix between Gothic architecture and space-age security designed to hold killer clowns and
half-crocodile cannibals. It’s usually depicted as being outside Gotham
City proper, behind intimidating wrought iron gates. The guards are usually carrying enough high-tech
stuff to hold Darth Vader off for a few minutes, yet somehow Riddler and Joker and everyone
else constantly escape regardless. The Arkham State Hospital of Joker is anchored
more securely in the real world. Arthur gets there by bus and it appears to
be somewhere in Gotham City as opposed to the outskirts. The interior doesn’t look any more high-tech
than what you would expect in a 1980s hospital, and when he goes to get the records for his
mom, Arthur appears to be in the same halls as some of the patients, none of whom are
behind electrified bars guarded by guys with more weapons than Judge Dredd. When Penny Fleck tells Arthur he’s the son
of the famous Thomas Wayne, he goes to Wayne Manor to confront his “father.” Instead he entertains the young Bruce Wayne
with magic tricks and comes close to choking Alfred Pennyworth for claiming his mother
is delusional. Thomas Wayne tells Fleck the same thing when
Arthur corners him in a theater restroom, and Arthur’s convinced his mother sold him
a fantasy when he steals Penny’s records from Arkham State Hospital. The file includes Arthur’s adoption paperwork
and newspaper clippings about his abuse at Penny’s boyfriend’s hands. The question is never completely settled. Arthur later finds a photo of his mother as
a young woman with “I love your smile” written on the back and signed with the initials “T.W.” With Thomas Wayne’s wealth and influence,
the notion that he could falsify records to erase the stain of his mistress’ child isn’t
out of the question. In the comics, the notion that Joker and Batman
are blood related in any way isn’t a thing, though the question of Bruce Wayne having
a brother he doesn’t know about has arisen in recent years. As part of DC Comics’ New 52 reboot, the “Court
of Owls” storyline in Batman includes Lincoln March a mayoral candidate who claims to have
been born as Thomas Wayne, Jr. but Batman refuses to believe him. Toward the end of Joker, Arthur’s former co-workers
Randall and Gary show up at his apartment, offering spirits and companionship after his
mother’s death. When it becomes clear Randall is only there
to fish for info on the subway killings, Arthur brutally kills the old clown with a pair of
scissors. Gary cowers in a corner, sure that he’s next,
but Arthur lets him go, telling him he’s the only one at Ha Ha’s that was ever nice to
him. The comic book Joker has grown exceedingly
cruel and ruthless over the years, and leaving survivors behind isn’t one of his hobbies. The fact that Gary has purer intentions when
visiting Arthur or treated him “nice” wouldn’t change his fate. If anything, the fact that Gary had every
reason to expect mercy would serve as more incentive for the comic book Joker to kill
him, because it would make the whole thing funnier in his twisted mind. Perhaps one of the more obvious ways Joker’s
Arthur Fleck differs from his comic book counterpart is his lack of killer gadgets. No acid-shooting lapel flowers and no electrocuting
hand buzzers. The Joker of the comics is so heavily armed
with the stuff, he’s essentially a walking booby trap. But Arthur Fleck uses no weapons more creative
than a gun, a pair of scissors, and a pillow. Well go on, open it.” Of course, this makes sense. Arthur Fleck isn’t in a world with Bat-themed
vigilantes or Legions of Doom at least, not yet. Joker is much more grounded in the real world
than most Batman films, and filling it with deadly gift-wrapped bombs or pistols that
shoot “BANG” flags wouldn’t fit. The closest things to gadgets we see Arthur
use are his perfectly non-lethal clown props, like the wand he uses to entertain the young
Bruce Wayne. Look closely after he gets beaten by teenagers
in the beginning of Joker and you can see the water draining from his lapel flower onto
the concrete, giving the impression it’s just as precious to the clown as blood. In the comics, it’s always either Batman or
one of his costumed allies who brings the Joker to justice. The less “super” law enforcement of Gotham
really can’t challenge him. “What is that? What is that, a bazooka?” Even when Batman catches the clown, he’s destined
to escape, but at the very least it takes someone with a mask to give Gotham a break
from Joker for a couple of days. Such is not the case in Joker. In fact, the Arthur Fleck of Joker not only
doesn’t seem all that tough to apprehend, he doesn’t seem particularly concerned with
being caught. After he kills Murray Franklin, he apparently
just hangs around the studio until the police come for him, because the next time we see
him he’s being driven away in the back of a police cruiser. So while the Gotham City of Joker certainly
could use some help with its garbage strike and its impoverished citizens, they seem to
be able to catch Joker without any costumed crimefighters’ help. In this version of the story, Gotham needs
civic reforms way more than they need a dude dressed like a bat who dropkicks muggers. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite
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