The Internet burst to life last week, thanks to all the reveals from the set of Todd Phillips' Joker movie. Finally, we saw our first look at Joaquin Phoenix dressed as the Clown Prince of Crime.
While many fans lauded Phoenix's getup, others pointed out that he looked perhaps a little too similar to Heath Ledger's Joker from 2008's The Dark Knight. There's no confirmation that the glimpses we've seen of the character are his "final" look, so we shouldn't get too ahead of ourselves just yet, but even so, it's hard to shake off these comparisons. In fact, there are several elements that may indicate there's more to this than meets the eye -- could Joker be a prequel of sorts to Christopher Nolan's trilogy?
For starters, there's the long, greasy, green hair. When Ledger debuted his infamous hairstyle, many fans were outraged because they believed the Joker would never allow himself to be so unkempt and dirty. It was an unpopular look at the time, but audiences would up embracing it once they understood the full scope of the character. Why would Phillips employ a similar aesthetic if they weren't linked? Surely, he'd want his Joker to stand apart from the rest... unless there's a specific reason not to.
Second, Phoenix's clown makeup appears self-applied, much like Ledger's. Sure, there are a few distinctions – namely the red nose and the amount of blue over the eyes and eyebrows – but remember, this is an early Joker, in the 1980s. His appearance will evolve over the years – perhaps even in the movie.
The third element is the Joker gang and their clown masks. If you recall the opening scene of The Dark Knight, Mr. J pulled off one of the greatest double-crosses ever, as he got his clown-masked gang to rob a bank for him before manipulating them into wiping each other out. In one of Joker's set videos, we see Phoenix's Ace of Knaves and others wearing creepy clown masks at the subway station. He walks away from the chaos, revealing his face and smiling at all the carnage unfolding around him. Yes, Joker having his own gang is something that's existed for decades, but again, the aesthetic similarities between this and Nolan's movie are difficult to ignore.
"But," you may ask, "what about the facial scars, genius?" The lack of scar tissue could be the most telling sign of them all. One of the greatest mysteries of The Dark Knight was how the Joker got his scars. He told it one way, then another, but we never learned the truth. Maybe Phoenix's Joker will actually reveal how he Ledger's Joker his Chelsea Smile once and for all. Now, that would be a twist for the ages!
The purpose of Phillips' film has long been questioned. Many have asked how Joker can exist without Batman, since the traditional origin involves the Caped Crusader "creating" his greatest nemesis. Well, the hero had nothing to do with the villain's origin in The Dark Knight, right? There's a secrecy around this project that screams there's a major reveal to come. I mean, do you really believe that Arthur Fleck is the Clown Prince's true name?
Much like the Joker, nothing is ever as it seems, and Warner Bros. and Phillips could be pulling off one heck of a surprise here. If this movie does end up being connected to Nolan's trilogy, this would be a shining example of the potential of DC's Multiverse on the big screen.