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The Evolution of the Joker
December 17, 2007 6:08 PM   Subscribe

IGN traces the visual evolution of Batman’s iconic nemesis, the Joker, from his origin in print in 1940 to his newest transformation in Heath Ledger.
posted by inconsequentialist (48 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nobody is laughing at the Joker's boner now!
posted by champthom at 6:12 PM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


I just watched the new trailer 5 minutes ago. I'm sure it'll be great fun, but Heath Ledger's Joker looks alarmingly like Courtney Love on a bender.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:18 PM on December 17, 2007 [7 favorites]


I can't remember the last time I got so caught up in movie hype. I love the Joker. That good old fashioned psychopathic killing machine. I can't wait for this movie.
posted by brevator at 6:24 PM on December 17, 2007


"has underwent"?

With The Dark Knight trailer hitting theatres everywhere this Friday, and the movie's first six-minutes attached to IMAX prints of I Am Legend...

I'm having trouble with this sentence (fragment). Why, if DK is coming out later this week, are 6 minutes attached to another movie? Does it suck that much that they need to hype it? And why is there an IMAX version of I Am Legend? I though that was just for science museum stuff. (Oh wait, the trailer hits theaters on Friday. Still leaves the question of IMAX open.)

That last one is pretty scary. But jeesh, the original first movie is almost 20 years old?!

Interesting link--I didn't know about some of these (which is probably akin to admitting I'd never heard of "this Shakespeare fellow," but whatevs).
posted by DU at 6:25 PM on December 17, 2007


DU, have you been living under a rock for the past 3 years? Harry Potter was in 3D imax, Superman was in Imax, the last matrix movie had an imax release, beowulf was in imax 3d, etc..
posted by empath at 6:32 PM on December 17, 2007


Why are they remaking this movie? The first modern remake of Batman was the best of the Batmans. It's unlikely they will improve on it.

I Am Legend was a let down. It constantly used character stupidity to create suspense instead of good writing.
posted by 517 at 6:33 PM on December 17, 2007


I've been living under a rock for a lot longer than 3 years.

How do they do this IMAX/3D stuff? Like, is it a different cut to highlight the format? Or is it just a really huge screening of the same movie? Are there IMAX theaters outside of science musea?

And how about this "fire" stuff? Hot? Please step off my lawn while answering.
posted by DU at 6:35 PM on December 17, 2007


They've been making batman comics for 80 years. I don't see why they shouldn't make Batman movies for 80 years.
posted by empath at 6:40 PM on December 17, 2007


I was initially very skeptical of Heath Ledger playing the Joker. That dude from A Knight's Tale as the Joker? I'm pretty attached to the lanky, awkward interpretation of the Joker's appearance. To me the character has never been much of a fighter, more apt to use ridiculous weapons and jump around throwing poisonous objects. No amount of acting can take away Ledger's broad build and square jaw, and that really bugged me.

But actually seeing him act and hearing his horrifically creepy laugh, well, I am pretty damn excited about this movie. They are clearly amping up the "psychopathic serial killer" facet of the Joker's personality and turning him into something truly nightmarish. I hope they keep in some of his playfulness--the fact the Joker does have that childish, fun-loving take to killing is what makes him all the more grotesque--but Nolan's new Batman movies have been so much darker and "serious" in tone I can see them dropping even that. Ledger's discussion of his interpretation says the Joker is chaotic, but he gives no indication it's the chaos of a child.
posted by schroedinger at 6:43 PM on December 17, 2007


I don't see why they shouldn't make Batman movies for 80 years.
Batman & Robin. Would that I had the presence of mind to pluck my eyes from my skull beore the film started.
posted by lekvar at 6:46 PM on December 17, 2007


Why are they remaking this movie? The first modern remake of Batman was the best of the Batmans. It's unlikely they will improve on it.

Umm... Batman: the Animated Series, which isn't just the best adaptation of Batman but probably the greatest American cartoon ever made. Truer to the comic, better written, no Prince soundtrack and/or gangs of motorcycle circus performers.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:48 PM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why so serious?
posted by homunculus at 6:53 PM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why are they remaking this movie? The first modern remake of Batman was the best of the Batmans. It's unlikely they will improve on it.

If the last time you saw this movie in 1989, then tihs may well be an opinion you want to revisit. While full of mood and having my favorite on-screen Bruce Wayne in Michael Keaton, any movie that features Batman using guns and killing people outright is not a Batman movie I have any interest in seeing again.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:56 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


It looks ok.
posted by boo_radley at 6:56 PM on December 17, 2007


Hey, is that brand franchise movie trailer in your Metafilter, or are you just glad to Pepsi Blue me?

Because, seriously? Your favorite brand sucks.
posted by humannaire at 7:18 PM on December 17, 2007


But jeesh, the original first movie is almost 20 years old?!

Please never say something like this again.
posted by Cyrano at 7:33 PM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


thanks so much for the link homunculus,I searched you tube for that and found nothing that wasn't low res or just eyebrow raising-ly ridiculous
posted by oblio_one at 7:53 PM on December 17, 2007


HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAA!!!!!!
posted by vrakatar at 8:01 PM on December 17, 2007


Are there IMAX theaters outside of science musea?

Jordan's Furniture in Framingham, Mass. has one, along with a faux New Orleans street, animatronic replicas of the former owners (Warren Buffet owns it now) and a roast-beef restaurant.
posted by adamg at 8:03 PM on December 17, 2007


Nobody can touch Brian Bolland.
posted by autodidact at 8:14 PM on December 17, 2007


DU, the 3D IMAX stuff is done with polarizing glasses. They don't use the old paper disposable ones though, they have these big plastic things that can fit over your regular glasses. We just saw Beowulf that way last week at our local IMAX which is at a mall, not a museum. We try to see most of the big movies at the IMAX, it's worth paying $9 a ticket instead of $7 to see them on a giant screen.
posted by octothorpe at 8:30 PM on December 17, 2007


...the story goes that he gave artist Bob Kane a picture of actor Conrad Veidt in the silent film The Man Who Laughs, based on Victor Hugo's novel, and Kane combined the actor's pale face and eerie grin with the basic look of a joker playing card.

One of the earlier Dark Knight posters was a clear homage to Veidt's famous rictus. It looks like they're going back to the source for the character design.
posted by Iridic at 8:32 PM on December 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


Umm... Batman: the Animated Series, which isn't just the best adaptation of Batman but probably the greatest American cartoon ever made.

It's great, but you have to remember it's got the classic Warner Bros. stuff to complete with. Bugs Bunny > Batman.
posted by JHarris at 8:38 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm right in line with what schroedinger said. My two reactions when I first heard about the movie were (1) Why are they remaking the Joker origin story, and (2) Heath Ledger?

Having seen the leaked first six minutes on Gizmodo and the new trailer, I am positively a-flutter with anticipation to see this movie. I really, really like their take on the Joker and can't wait to see the full thing play out. I'm holding in the temptation to gush OMGBESTBATMANMOVIEEVAR, but the trailer alone has impressed me more than the lead-up to "Batman Begins."

This is the sound of my inner dork asploding.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:44 PM on December 17, 2007


I rewatched the Tim Burton Batman during the lead-up to the Nolan/Bale Batman Begins and I gotta say... I hate that movie now. I remember loving it as a kid, but watching it now it just seems like Tim Burton's big "fuck you" to comic book fans.
posted by papakwanz at 8:48 PM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm right there with you Papakwanz. I'm hopeful for this one and I'm also hoping that they don't make the bone headed move of killing off Joker at the end of the movie. Its so un-comic book. I was glad when Scarecrow got away last time around.
posted by Wink Ricketts at 9:05 PM on December 17, 2007


Hmm. I had my heart set on Adrien Brody or Crispin Glover. This Joker looks like Beetlejuice. But it could work. I was initially against the casting decision of Cillian Murphy as the Scarecrow in the previous movie, but he made that work well - same body image/appearance issues, for different reasons.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:19 PM on December 17, 2007


...the fact the Joker does have that childish, fun-loving take to killing...

Here again, another good opportunity to refer back to that "How many five year olds can you take in a fight" link...
posted by darkstar at 9:23 PM on December 17, 2007


But jeesh, the original first movie is almost 20 years old?!

41 years old, yo.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:48 PM on December 17, 2007


When I was 13 and it was new, I thought the 1989 Batman was the greatest thing that had ever been created. I still think it's pretty great, but with a few flaws I think we can all agree on; mainly too much focus on the villains and Bruce Wayne, not enough actual crimefighting by Batman. Each sequel successively amplified these problems until Batman & Robin came out and basically left us all with the taste of Joel Schumacher's turd in our mouths.

Batman Begins was a major improvement, but still not the Batman movie I've wanted to see since being about 22 and finally having seen enough movies and read enough comics to have a proper "take" on the concept. The Dark Knight looks almost perfect except for the fact that Bruce Wayne is so megarich and has basically outfitted himself like Astroboy.
posted by autodidact at 11:14 PM on December 17, 2007


Are there IMAX theaters outside of science musea?

Seek and ye shall find.
posted by mykescipark at 12:39 AM on December 18, 2007


Burton's Batman was not so much a darker version of the 60s camp but Miller's Dark Knight made twee. Even Nicholson's psycho routine was old hat by then (and I say this as someone who's favourite movie is The Shining). It kept on peering over the edge of the abyss and then stepping back and doing a little dance with a nod and a wink. This mostly works with Burton's more fantastical endeavours, but with Batman, part of the point is that he's not supernatural, merely finely tuned.

The more recent Batman was a lot closer to picturing its subject in a realistic light, and was the better movie for it.
posted by Sparx at 2:22 AM on December 18, 2007


Such a shame the Joker from Morrison's Batman issue 663 has been roundly ignored by DC since. It's a new and (in my opinion) utterly fantastic direction for the Joker, who's been stuck in kind of a rut for a while now. Sadly, most people hated (or didn't "get") that issue, so it's unlikely ever to be referred to again.

I'll have to read it again tonight to remind myself, but I can't understand anyone complaining about the "faux-Frank Miller feel" to the prose, since that seemed like kinda the point of the issue: to change the way he is, the Joker must change the way he thinks about Batman.

I'll stop there, in case memory is overriding fact.

I'll have to wait until I get home to watch the trailer, but if the Joker in the new movie is more psychopath than pantomime villain, I'm officially (kinda) interested.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:39 AM on December 18, 2007


I just watched the trailer (admittedly with the sound off, but I got the full effect of the visuals). I was staring in disbelief at Ledger's Joker the whole time, thinking, "My god! He's utterly insane! He's a psychopath through and through!"

That was when I remembered that that's how the Joker is supposed to be.

I'm looking forward to this movie.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:38 AM on December 18, 2007


One of the earlier Dark Knight posters was a clear homage to Veidt's famous rictus. It looks like they're going back to the source for the character design.

I'm pretty sure this poster is a fan-made phony.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:39 AM on December 18, 2007


I love how they completely skipped over the motley fool version of the Joker from the more recent FOX The Batman cartoon. Ungh. If ever there was a show that was Not For Me, it's that one. It started out merely adequate and then went down the long dark slope of toy tie-ins and sidekicks. Somehow Batman became a cloaked Fagin leading what seems to be a small army of kids around the city in order to fight crime.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:54 AM on December 18, 2007


I'm right there with you Papakwanz. I'm hopeful for this one and I'm also hoping that they don't make the bone headed move of killing off Joker at the end of the movie.

Well, that all depends on whether or not the Batmobile loses its wheel...
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:57 AM on December 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


There is a cam version of the 6 minutes that they're showing in front of IAL here. Really bad quality, but it's still exciting to see the new Joker in (masked) action.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 6:40 AM on December 18, 2007


I'm pretty sure this poster is a fan-made phony.

Yep. Good one, though.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:16 AM on December 18, 2007


way to not mention the Red Hood.
posted by shmegegge at 8:21 AM on December 18, 2007


As long as Harley Quinn isn't in the movie, it should be decent.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:08 AM on December 18, 2007


On examination you would seem to be right, shakespeherian. Funny, though; I could have sworn I'd seen it on a wall somewhere.
posted by Iridic at 9:19 AM on December 18, 2007


Cesar Romero, the Joker on the 60's TV batman was a grandson of Jose Marti. Or at least he claimed to be. In fact, there was probably some relation, though it was secret and adulterous. In any case, he's the joker--we have to cut him some slack. But the Joker of my childhood was a terrifying exaggeration of the Latin hysterical spirit, emotion disconnected and gone sinisterly out of control. A caricature of madness. Of all the villains vanquished by Batman he was the most menacing.

But Cesar Romero was, according to historical accounts, anything but the bad guy. He was a proponent of liberation theology and a champion of the poor, or at least--as a member of the ruling class--he made a good show of it. This two dimensional screen figure from the famously banal tv show was anything but in real life. Besides being the joker, he played over 120 roles in film and television including a seminal role as Cortez in a major historical epic of the 40's. He was Carmen Miranda's dance partner for a time and dated a few women, but later was widely known to be gay despite living in Hollywood during a time when this was risky to one's career.
posted by mert at 10:31 AM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


‘The Dark Knight’ Trailer: A Shot By Shot Analysis
posted by homunculus at 11:09 AM on December 18, 2007


In other news: Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema join with MGM to produce "The Hobbit"
posted by homunculus at 12:04 PM on December 18, 2007


The 6-Minute Dark Knight Bank Heist Trailer
posted by homunculus at 7:01 PM on December 19, 2007


Batman Year 100
posted by homunculus at 9:15 PM on December 19, 2007


That last link makes me miss demonoid. :(
posted by middleclasstool at 10:08 PM on December 19, 2007


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