The first trailer for Joker understandably has DC fans buzzing, as this film about the iconic DC Comics villain is attempting something bold and unprecedented in the character’s 79 years of existence:an origin story. That’s a high-risk venture for Hangover director Todd Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix, who are setting themselves up to incur the wrath of DC fans, if they don’t hit this nail squarely on the head.
One thing is for sure though: there’s no way that Joker can simply stand on its own merits, as the character is such a deep part of the cultural zeitgeist that any new interpretation must be held up to all those versions that came before.
Fans comparing between Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker to Heath Ledger’s Joker.
So, even though the Joker trailer has just dropped (at the time of writing this) DC fans are already going in on comparing Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker to his onscreen predecessors – most notably Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight.
Side by sides
Images of Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker being compared to Heath Ledger’s (or Jack Nicholson’s, or Jared Leto’s) have started flooding onto social media. On the one hand, it’s good for Phoenix to be earning his way into such an esteemed and exclusive club. On the other hand though…
A NEW G.O.A.T.?
Joaquin Phoenix being cast as Joker might be the best casting choice to play the part since the late great Heath Ledger. This film and his performance looks promising! #JokerMovie pic.twitter.com/cxDKkOL0Sz
— Comedy Mustafa (@comedymustafa) April 4, 2019
Some DC fans are very angry that these comparisons of Phoenix and Ledger (and other Jokers) are being done, and are already proclaiming that Phoenix’s Joker will earn the crown, once Joker hits theaters. Can’t wait to see it.
Some DC fans are so in love with Heath Ledger’s Joker that they don’t even think there’s reason to ever feature the character in a another movie again.
..Thankfully, there are also quite a few fans who understand why that notion is utterly ridiculous, and that there’s plenty of room for a new Joker to make his debut.
Also Read: 7 Times Supervillains Became Heroes
NOT WORTHY OF HEATH
— Grave Reviews® (@GraveReviewsinc) April 3, 2019
We don’t know how/when Heath Ledger became the patron saint of Jokers, but a lot of fans are certainly acting that way by asking condescending questions like this.
Not worthy of Jared Leto
Anyone still wondering why Marvel is kicking DCs ass in movies need only look at the joker trailer.
They had the perfect non Heath Ledger Joker in @jaredleto already set up with the perfect back story… and they did this.
Just as they ruined what they had in TVs arrowverse.
— Floplag (@floplag) April 3, 2019
Bruh… What??? This is quite possibly *the* hot take of hot takes. Good luck finding support for it…
IT’S NOT HEATH = HATE IT
Ahhhhh the narrating already putting me off ,Heath Ledger fucked this role up for everybody😖💔 https://t.co/z1P7Ipp2Qs
— Lil Fish🎣 (@ArtificialSteez) April 3, 2019
And clearly, some fans are not even going to bother giving Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker fair chance.
THE CONTENDER WE NEED
The key to any Joker movie after Heath Ledger’s Oscars winning performance is finding someone who can make it their own and unique. I commend Jared Leto, but this, whether it works or not, is exactly the type of unique take that we need.
— Jeff D. Lowe (@JeffDLowe) April 3, 2019
It’s fair to say that few actors have the kind of gravitas to even come close to Ledger’s Joker. It is equally fair to say that Joaquin Phoenix is definitely one of them.
Overall, I am very happy with the choices of actors to play The Joker.
Jack Nicholson was amazing, Heath Ledger was iconic, Jared Leto I haven't seen but would give him a try as well. And Joaquin Phoenix is more than a good choice. We have seen better Jokers than Batmen.
— sj (@sun2jay) April 3, 2019
At the end of the day, we can all at least agree on this one, yes?
HEATH HATES IT
— Complex (@Complex) April 3, 2019
The strangest fans are the ones who seem to have intimate knowledge of how Heath Ledger would feel about this whole Joaquin Phoenix Joker performance.
Joke’s on you
Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix were friends. So, how about we stop with the extreme comparisons of their Joker performances and propping up one to shit on the other? It's disrespectful and tasteless.
Heath would be proud of what his peer has accomplished. pic.twitter.com/eEC36URDfw
— Tom Jones (not that one) (@TBroomey) April 3, 2019
Let’s end with this little reminder of actual history, before the Internet gets lost in its own false reality. Ledger and Phoenix were two powerhouse thespians who actually respected one another. So is Phoenix’s Joker an insult to Ledger’s work, or an homage to his friend? The answer seems pretty clear.
DC Movies Reminder
The DC Movie Universe continues with Shazam on April 5th, Joker on October 4th, Birds of Prey on February 7th, 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5th, 2020, and The Batman on June 25th, 2021.