BEHIND THE SMILE: If Heath Ledger portrayed the Joker as a psychotic villain, Joaquin Phoenix is making him more human

Teasing what lies in store for die-hard fans of this comic book character, 'The Hangover' director recently released a first look image of the Joaquin Phoenix-played Joker


                            BEHIND THE SMILE: If Heath Ledger portrayed the Joker as a psychotic villain, Joaquin Phoenix is making him more human

So far, DC fans have been treated to multiple, contrasting versions of the comic book supervillain, Joker. From a psychotic, mad clown (portrayed by Heath Ledger) to chaotic Batman nemesis (Jared Leto), almost every aspect of the supervillain spectrum has been touched upon, except for the humanized and more subtle iteration of the Joker. 

What was the DC villain like before he went completely rogue? Was he ever a regular man with redeemable qualities? Perhaps, this is the angle that Todd Phillips-directed upcoming Joker origin movie is aiming to explore. Teasing what lies in store for die-hard fans of this comic book character, 'The Hangover' director recently released a first-look image of the Joaquin Phoenix-played Joker - which, to say the least, is a more subdued version of all the Jokers we have seen before. 



 

The image, staying true to Phillip's promise of delivering a noticeably different Joker, offered a glimpse of Phoenix - decked in a plain olive green jacket with his hair styled in loose waves - but minus the over-the-top green and red makeup that the antagonist is usually seen wearing. In our earliest memory of the comic book character's cinematic iteration, in fact, this is the first time the Joker has been shown without his painted face, to the extent that the character feels humanized.

Adding even more intrigue to the image, Phillips further added in the caption, "Arthur," seemingly confirming rumors that Phoenix's antagonist would be called Arthur Fleck. Of course, an official confirmation is still pending, but all the clues and hints that have been dropped so far, sort of, coincides with the description of Phillips' origin movie - "an exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale."

Scripted by '8 Mile' writer Scott Silver, and executive produced by Martin Scorsese, the origin Phoenix-starring movie will undoubtedly be aiming to set a standard in terms of all the Joker movies. However, when it comes to the portrayal of this clown prince of crime, to date, nothing comes close to Heath Ledger's characterization. 



 

While others would think twice before allowing themselves to become the subject of such comparison, Phoenix remains quite unfazed. In his opinion, such is the comics book literature that it allows not one but multiple interpretations of an iconic character. 

“I was thinking about it’s interesting with comics there are different writers and artists that come on. It’s different than this character from literature being uniquely that,” Phoenix had teased adding, “There are different interpretations. It’s so interesting."

Well, we are counting on Phoenix to unveil a completely different side to Joker.