A Meme of Mass Violence: ‘Joker’ and the Rise of ‘Demonic Anti-Heroes’

“But I have seen “The Dark Knight” and, despite Heath Ledger’s incredible performance, his Joker—like Milton’s Satan—is not the intended hero. The fact that so many received the character as a hero says a lot about our culture. It betrays a culture-wide fascination with evil we now bring to the theater.”

(John Stonestreet & Shane Morris – Christian Headlines)  Batman’s arch-nemesis is back on the silver screen in full face paint and purple suit, along with the uncomfortable questions his character raises about the state of our culture.

Joaquin Phoenix is the new “Joker,” this time in an origin story about the comic book villain who, until now, didn’t have one. The trailers for this movie make it look more like an art-house film than a superhero movie. While Marvel movies like to pack on the laughs, this one is too deadly serious to put a smile on anyone’s face.

The film’s spotlight is fully on the Joker, who at last has a name: Arthur Fleck—a failed comedian who loses his mind and leads a murderous October Revolution-style uprising in Gotham City.

This iteration is, of course, being compared with Heath Ledger’s chilling performance from “The Dark Knight” (2008). Certainly, the nihilistic angle of Ledger’s Joker was more than a few steps further down into depravity than Jack Nicholson’s portrayal in the first Batman film. And, when Ledger died of a drug overdose before the film’s release, many speculated the character had consumed him.  View article →

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