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Film Theory: Batman's Three JOKER Theory pt. 1 (Suicide Squad)

Jun 10, 2021
Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na MATPAAAAAT! Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na MATPAAAAAT! MATPAAAAAT! MATPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Hello there! Welcome to Film Theory, one of the few series that managed to make a successful crossover from video games to movies! Suck on that, Prince of Persia! But seriously, let's get right into today's

theory

because it's one I'm pretty excited about. The new Suicide Squad movie is coming out and none of the trailers have shown Doomsday yet, so overall I'm pretty optimistic.
film theory batman s three joker theory pt 1 suicide squad
But what the trailers HAVE shown is one of my favorite comic book villains of all time: The JOKER. Now what I've always liked about this guy is the mystery that follows him everywhere. Who is he? It's one of the oldest questions about the Batman universe, but recently, DC has started to lean a bit... at least in the comics. In Justice League #42, Batman gains access to the Mobius Chair, an intergalactic chair that holds all of the knowledge in the universe. After Batman sits in the chair, he tests her by asking a question only he knows: Who killed his parents?
film theory batman s three joker theory pt 1 suicide squad

More Interesting Facts About,

film theory batman s three joker theory pt 1 suicide squad...

And the chair does it well. So, with the chair successfully proving that he knows everything...or at least saw the first few minutes of virtually every Batman ever created, Batman asks the most important question of all. No, no "Who thought the Martha thing was a good idea in Batman v Superman?" Or, "What WAS the deal with the bat nipple suit?" But the question that's been on everyone's mind since the early days of comics: "Who's the Joker?" We don't actually hear the Mobius Chair's response, just Batman's stunned reaction. Then 8 issues and a year later in Justice League #50 we finally learn what the Mobius chair said to Batman.
film theory batman s three joker theory pt 1 suicide squad
Now, if you thought Game of Thrones has frustrating cliffhangers, then you'll love this one: In the issue, Batman reveals that the Mobius chair told him there were not one, not two, but THREE different Jokers. WHAT?!?!? Way to milk it, DC. And, of course, the Internet was abuzz with theories. No Batman character was safe. Alfred? Clearly The Joker. Robin? Also The Joker. Batman himself? Somehow still The Joker. But your guess as to why he's as good as mine. So yeah, that's all well and good, but for me, the coolest part of this reveal wasn't so much the implications for the comics, but the implications for the movies.
film theory batman s three joker theory pt 1 suicide squad
Because if there are

three

Jokers in the comics, could there also be

three

different Jokers in the DC movie universe? Now that's not as ridiculous as it sounds. Just look at the man behind it all: Geoff Johns. He is a legendary comic book writer and wrote Justice League #42 and #50. The themes that this Mobius chair deals with. He is the man behind DC Rebirth and it was recently announced that he would be co-heading at DC Films. He is literally the man whose job it is to translate the universe from the comics to the screen. So if anyone, ANYONE, will stick with this MONUMENTAL reveal from the comics, it will be him.
And looking at the Batmans already in the movies, surprisingly, the

theory

holds up. Up to this point, there have only been three live-action renditions of The Joker. In 1966's Batman: The Movie, Cesar Romero played the Joker; then, in Tim Burton's Batman in 1989, the Joker was reinvented by Jack Nicholson; and of course, in Chris Nolan's 2008 sequel The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger reinterpreted him yet again. Sure, there have been animated versions of the character as well, but in terms of live action, he fits the bill. But those are the Jokers from the past! Now we have the inclusion of the Suicide Squad, and it's the new Joker played by Jared Leto.
That makes four different live-action Jokers, so what does it matter? Well, what if it turns out that Jared Leto is not a new Joker, but instead he takes over from one of the Jokers we've already seen in the past? It would be a big deal for the DC Cinematic Universe, but the question begs, what would it be? And is there any proof that this claim is worth testing? Well, to be sure, we'll need to know a bit more about the other three Jokers and see how the Batman comic and movies collide. Comic book history can be divided into four distinct periods: the Golden Age from 1938 to 1950, the Silver Age from 1956 to 1970, the Bronze Age from 1970 to 1985, and the Modern Age from 1985 to the present.
And the comics changed a lot throughout those different eras, and along with them, the portrayals of The Joker. The Golden Age was when the first superhero comics like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were first published. They became very popular right after the Great Depression and during World War II, at a time when the US really needed larger than life heroes, and as a result, they feature patriotic heroes fighting against, uhh, let's say "foreign". looking for enemies. It was during this age that the Joker made his first appearance in 1940's Batman #1. This first Joker was a deranged serial killer with a sadistic sense of humor.
In the first issue, Joker announces on the radio his plans to steal a diamond and murder a guy, then he just DOES IT. He just...he goes and does it. In the first twelve issues of Batman, he kills dozens of people and does some pretty sick things like carve smiles onto the faces of all his victims and make masks out of people's skin. THE SKIN OF THE PEOPLE. Are these the comics or The Silence of the Lambs? God. However, the golden age of comics was not just about superhero stories. Actually, there were all kinds of comics: horror, crime, westerns, romance.
And they weren't just for kids, many of them had quite adult themes. However, in the mid-1950s anti-communist paranoia, Fredric Wertham released "The Seduction of the Innocents," where he blamed comics for all "juvenile delinquency." Hmm, does that sound familiar? So obviously, as people started to become more sensitive, there was an increasing call to tone down the violence in these books. However, instead of waiting for the government to censor them, the comic book publishers censored themselves. In 1954, The Comics Code Authority was formed to review and approve comic books... according to their own rules. Rules like: In comics, "Crimes shall never be presented to create sympathy for the criminal," "Romance stories shall emphasize the value of home and the sanctity of marriage," and "All scenes of horror, bloodshed, gory, or appalling crimes... will not be allowed". as well as 37 other rules.
With these changes began the Silver Age of Comics. The Silver Age, often referred to as the "Age of Innocence," was all about fantasy and optimism. Since crime and horror were heavily regulated, superheroes began fighting monsters and aliens instead of people. The harshness of The Golden Age was gone and replaced with corny humor. And the Joker was no exception. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Joker went from being a mass murderer to just being a prankster. He was like a tamer version of Roman Atwood! All the Joker wanted during the Silver Age was cash. In fact, in a 1952 issue, "Joker's Millions," the Joker inherits a vast fortune and simply retires from crime altogether!
Easy guys, I'm done! Until, of course, it turns out that his entire fortune is fake. Ugh, I hate when that happens! Here the Joker never kills or harms anyone. It's like Looney Tunes with Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny, where Batman basically pulls a prank on him. Here he also got all his gadgets: hand bell, spitting flower, firearms and even his own car: the Jokermobile. It took 20 years, but eventually people got tired of the cloying Authority of the Comics Code and basically stopped following it, giving way to The Bronze Age. Now, the Bronze Age of Comic Books brought back comic books as a place to tackle social issues and return them to their darker roots.
This is where Iron Man dealt with alcoholism, Spiderman's girlfriend Gwen Stacey died, and The Joker became a murderer again. HURRAH! The difference between this and the Golden Age, however, is that there was now a heavy emphasis on the psychology of these characters. For example, in 1973's The Joker's Five-Way Revenge, the Joker escapes from an asylum and systematically kills the five men who ratted him out. The new version of the Joker emphasized his madness and mental instability. Rather than an evil master criminal or prankster fool, The Joker is a mentally ill psychopath who chooses not to control his actions.
The Modern Age of Comic Books doubled down on these dark and gritty images. The best example is The Dark Knight Returns, which was a comic before it was a movie. Surprise! And just like the movie, the comic emphasized the fact that the Joker can hardly function or exist without Batman as his counterpart; the yin to the yang of him. All of this should sound familiar. So we have three eras of comics and three Jokers: the criminal mastermind; the silly

joker

; and the psychopath. When Geoff Johns announced that there were three different Jokers in Justice League #50, he was basically explaining how the character has evolved over the past eighty years. it could be interpreted that the three Jokers from The Gold, Silver and Bronze/Modern Age have now become their own separate characters.
But if it's true in the comics, does it work in the movies as well? Surprisingly yes! Because when you look at it, the three

film

versions of The Joker correspond perfectly to the three comic versions. C├ęsar Romero's 1966 Joker is the Joker of the Silver Age: a dimwitted prankster with crazy plans, constantly outwitted by Batman. Romero's Joker is not a murderer or a sadistic madman, he is just a thief; obsessed with robbing banks and art museums. And just like The Silver Age Joker, Romero's version uses a variety of gadgets: a spray flower, an all-purpose belt, hand bells, gas grenades, and yes, even his own car: the Jokermobile.
Tim Burton's 1989 Jack Nicholson Joker is a completely different version, which makes sense because it's the Golden Age version. The origin story of the Nicholson Joker follows the exact same story that is given to the Golden Age Joker, where he is a career criminal who gets into a vat of chemicals after being cornered by Batman. He is disfigured and when he sees his reflection in the surgeon's office, he goes completely crazy: he reinvents himself as the Joker, beat for beat like in the comics. Nicholson's Joker is also a serious killer, contorting the faces of his victims into permanent toxin-laced smiles, the same calling card as The Golden Age Joker.
Nicholson's Joker announces his plans on television, just like the Golden Age Joker announced his plans on the radio in Batman #1, and even uses the same meat makeup technique. That leaves us with The Heath Ledger Joker, the tragic psychopath. He tells Batman that he can't live without him, that they are destined to be adversaries forever. "I don't want to kill you. What would I do without you? You complete me." People are constantly saying how crazy Ledger's Joker is, how unpredictable he is, which reflects The Bronze and Modern Age's focus on his unstable psyche. "Some men just want to watch the world burn." So there you have it, the three Jokers fit perfectly into the three Joker comic model.
But that leads to the question: now that Jared Leto is playing the Joker in Suicide Squad, is he a new character, or which Joker line will he continue? Are we really going to get to Suicide Squad now? Mobius Chair, tell me: who is Jared Leto's Joker? WHAT? He is sure? No, I'm not questioning you... But what kind of proof do you have... Oh, that makes a lot of sense, actually... That would be a really good episode... But then... I'd have to do that where there's a cliffhanger and I HATE those on TV shows, that's the WORST!
I haven't even done Dr. Who part 3 yet, Mobius Chair! What did the Mobius chair say to MatPat? Who really is Jared Leto's Joker? Would they really end on a cliffhanger after forcing you to wait for the second part of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared? Amazing!! Subscribe, so you can join us next week on Film Theory to find out! And, while you're in the mood for MORE Joker action, be sure to click here for the Wisecrack channel's video on The Joker's philosophy! Revealing the character's original inspirations, the true meaning behind his motives, and how his evolution over the years reflects the current state of our time!
Wisecrack folks, always providing lots of education, lots of laughs, check them out! And BE SURE to be here next week for the exciting conclusion to this BAT SAGA! And in the meantime, remember: that's just a theory, a MOVIE theory. Aaaaaaay Cut.

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