Remember when the bad guys weren’t victims?
Last week, Warner Bros. put out a new trailer for Joker. Joaquin Phoenix playing yet another version of the clown prince of crime, and yet another telling of the origin of the villain that really doesn’t have an origin.
I’ll be honest, I saw the first image of Phoenix as the Joker, and I was out. I knew this wouldn’t be the movie for me. So when the trailer arrived, I wasn’t the least bit interested. But an interesting thing happened yesterday. I went to go watch Shazam! As an aside, I loved the movie. It was positive, cartoony, and fun, exactly as a Captain Marvel (yes, I used his proper name even if the movie could not) movie should be. And at the movie, I heard someone that was excited about the Joker movie, so I came home, and watched the trailer.
Now this is a Joker for 2019.
And that is not a good thing.
Remember when the bad guys were bad guys? You should. It’s the way it’s always been. Sure, some times we go deeper into the minds of the villains in movies, and that’s generally a good thing. Sometimes we see the things that have shaped them, and it’s enjoyable. Sometimes we can even feel empathy for them. In the end though, the villains, are still villains. This trailer takes another route entirely.
The Joker is not a villain, the Joker is a victim. The origin we see is not the origin of one of the most unapologetically sadistic villains to come out of comics. No, this is the origin of a hero. Someone that has been beat and bullied at the hands of others. It looks as though this will be a movie which won’t tell the story of a murderous villain, but will instead provide an apology for him.
I don’t know why it’s so hard to delineate between good and evil. Societal norms have gone out the window. Here in California, I’m used to society telling me the criminals are the victims. I’m used to actual victims no longer finding justice as criminals walk free. However as a person that grew up reading comics, they always provided a very good example of good vs evil. I’d go so far as to say my own sense of justice, was at least partially formed by reading comics as a child. Reading how noble heroes fought off villainous criminals to save innocents. What happens for the next generation, when they’re told that the villains are the victims? What happens when the media that we enjoy tells us that there is no difference between innocence and those that perpetrate violence? Unfortunately, I have a feeling with the current direction of Hollywood, we will find out the answer to those questions all too soon.