It has been said that a hero is nothing without a good villain. Lacking a proper antagonist to stand in the way of the hero’s journey, the hero’s eventual triumph isn’t as satisfying. Modern myth has produced many gripping hero/villain conflicts, but few match the intensity and poeticism of the ongoing battle between the iconic DC Comics hero Batman and his arch-nemesis, the Joker.
The Batman/Joker conflict has been explored, remade, revamped, and picked apart for years – and is still entertaining and compelling today (read more about it here in an article I wrote back in 2015 for the Joker’s 75th anniversary).
Director Todd Phillips adds another interesting facet to this decades-old conflict with his newest film, Joker – an intense character study that delves into the dark origins of the Clown Prince of Crime. Intended as a stand-alone film created outside of the current DC Extended Universe continuity, the film is an emotional tour-de-force that sucks the audience in almost immediately and never lets go until the very last frame.
Well-crafted and acted, Joker also has a lot to say spiritually. Gotham City is a terrible place and a reminder of our own individual relationship with sin.
SPOILERS AHEAD…NO JOKE!