Joker: There Is Hope For DC

Joker is a film focusing on the origins of the iconic character who has never had in his whole history an agreed-upon backstory. This version of the character is not an interpretation or adaption of any specific comic book or film, but rather something new entirely. Joker sets itself apart from the DCEU, and is basically an Elseworlds story, taking more from the likes of the King of Comedy then from Batman Vs Superman.

The Scorsese influences on display here are undeniable; this lends the film a gritty edge- even more so than Snyder’s DC grit, and that’s saying something. The Joker’s Arthur Fleck could fit into the background of Goodfella’s or The Departed, just as easily as any other DC superhero film. That’s the beauty of this film: it’s incredibly real world while also being fantastical.

The Joker is an unrelentingly harsh film; there are a lot of scenes that will make you feel uncomfortable, maybe even distressed, but it’s all done with a purpose. These scenes heighten the subtext of the film; this idea about what happens to societies most vulnerable people when you spit on them and cast them out. It even ventures into themes of the limits of human endurance — showing the need for greater, more productive discussion and actions towards mental illness.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur to perfection, perhaps being my favourite on-screen version of the Joker to date. You can see his vulnerability both physically and mentally through the early stages of the film, and you do feel bad for him. As the arc progresses, we see him more and more like a monster, but a monster that could have been avoided, had someone noticed sooner.

Phoenix delivers a career-best performance of a man who is coming apart at the seams, Phoenix nails all the mannerisms and emotions of the character perfectly, the naivety, the insanity and the laugh. The laugh is the best Joker laugh put to film; it is both tragic and menacing.

The violence is grisly and direct, and I’m glad of it, as the character in the comics is a very mature, very adult character. If this were a 12, or PG-13 for you Americans, then it would be a disservice to the character- he would effectively be neutered to keep to an age rating. Here his brutality and murderous rage are on full display- it is shockingly visceral.

My one complaint of Joker is that I don’t like some of the things it implies about Joker, or Arthur within this universe, or in DC lore. Some of the cannon events this film alters change the whole DC universe if this were an in-universe title. These changes also feel that they somewhat cheapen the events themselves.

Overall I think this is not only a strong comic book film, but a masterpiece in the crime/ character study genres. I have tried to keep this review as free of spoilers as I can, as I think you should go into the film with no expectations of what it’s going to be. This is my favourite film of 2019 so far, most certainly up there with the likes of John Wick 3, and is something I think you should all see.


Reviewed by Luke

*I’ve not mentioned the controversy because it’s irrelevant to the nature of the film.

Doing It For The Fans

Fandom means different things to different people, to a studio, a fan can be someone who helps to spread the good word about your film. Conversely, they can be an antagonist saying bad things about your movie online or, on social media. To fans themselves, the word reflects their dedication to something that means a lot to them, be it Stars Wars, Marvel or DC.

Fans are very passionate about the things they love, and their money and support can help a series thrive. We never would’ve got the MCU if it wasn’t for the fans who love it and see all the entries. In this regard, fans are a good thing, a thing every franchise wants to gather and accumulate.

However fans can also be testy; if the creative vision for a franchise or TV show takes a turn from what fans expect or want they will be very vocal about it, starting online discourse and perhaps even boycotts. In this respect, fandoms can be very entitled. Though fan money helps films to do well at the box office, fans are not entitled to have their own way or have what they want to see validated. Studios will do what they want, and fans can accept it or not.

That said, studios will do well to keep fans happy and onside because they can be great friends to have or terrible enemies to try and counteract.

Fandoms can be off-putting for more casual, mainstream audiences. There can be an element of gatekeeping to them with fans believing themselves to be better than other fans, based on some arbitrary little fact, like who has seen the film more, or who has the most figurines.

An example of the sort of thing I’m talking about was the bullying of Kelly Marie-Tran, the StarWars actress who left social media after harassment from fans, simply because they didn’t like her character in the last StarWars film.

However, fans have also positively impacted franchises, having helped to save cancelled shows, and help them find homes elsewhere. Thanks to active fan campaigns, my favourite TV program, Chuck was able to avoid cancellation and find a sponsor.

Overall, fandoms and the fans themselves are something that should always be kept in mind, but they also need to see where there is a line between wanting the best for something you love and destroying your own favourite franchise through sheer bile.

Everyone should try and be nice to each other online whether you like Playstation or, Xbox or, Marvel or, DC. We are all fans.

The Problem With Shared Universes

*A cinematic universe for anyone who doesn’t know is when different series of films, as well as other forms of media, all exist within the same world and happen side by side with each other, with the events of one film affecting the others.

We live in a post-Avengers society; Disney and Marvel have proven that franchises can crossover and be instantly profitable. However, only one cinematic universe has done this, as many would say without fault, that is, of course, the MCU. In today’s post, I am going to talk about all the different variants and their issues, as well as the problems with having a shared universe in general.

The MCU is regarded by many as the best-shared universe, a lot of this comes not only from the fact the films are good, but also because they were the first to do it. However, the MCU is also a textbook example of a problem that a lot of shared universes have, and that is that all the films feel very similar. The Marvel formula is something that has been covered a lot, but to briefly sum up, it is the way a lot of, if not all, the Marvel Cinematic Universe films are structured and written- filled with humour and easter eggs. The issue with this formula is that it can stop a lot of the movies from feeling unique and instead makes them feel like a reskin.
The Solution: The MCU won’t change because they make a ton of money, why change that.

Secondly, we have the DCEU, that stands for the DC expanded universe, which is the other major comic book shared universe. Though I loved these films, mostly, they suffer from tonal inconsistencies. In a cinematic universe, all the films have to have similar tones and colour pallets from them to fit together. Removing the audience from this world the formula works in particular cases. Having a mismatch of tones and styles can be and has proven for the DCEU, to be jarring.
The Solution: Either to start afresh and keep to one creative vision or to give up on a shared universe and have everything standalone, with minor crossover

Thirdly we have the now dead Universal Dark Universe, which was going to be all the classic monsters, The Mummy, The Wolf-Man, Dracula, etc. existing side by side. The issue that plagued this universe is that it rushed to have everything done and set up as quickly as possible. To do a shared universe, you need layered characters and dense world-building, these things take time and effort. You can’t just force the shared world to exist- in one outing. Furthermore, Universal got ahead of themselves and planned out an entire slate before their first film had even come out; which was foolhardy, to say the least.

Finally, we have Legendary’s Monsterverse; this is the one with the giant fighting animals Godzilla, King Kong, arguably one of the best-shared universes. The Monsterverse does world-building very well; it has a clear world with rules. The only thing I can fault them for is that because of the world and the lore; they’re sometimes a hard sell for a mainstream audience; in a way, it’s a double-edged sword, hurting them at the box office.

To conclude the point I wanted to make here is that shared universe are hard to do, even harder to do right. While we may want to see our favourite characters interact on the big screen, it often comes at the cost of originality and fresh takes. What’s more, things that are better standalone end up being shoehorned into a more extensive franchise often hurting them in the process, looking at you Ten Cloverfield Lane. However, all the studios want the money that comes with a shared universe, so they won’t stop until they run all their franchises into the ground.

*I didn’t mention the Hasbro Universe, because it hasn’t happened yet when I see the G.I. Joe/ Transformers crossover I will say my thoughts then.
*I also didn’t mention Sony’s Spider-verse because it is in limbo and could go either way at any minute, especially now Disney has Spider-man himself back in the MCU