Well, I finally got myself to watch the Joker – the one with Joaquin Phoenix, and after the show, it inevitably gets you to compare the performance of Joaquin with the Joker brought to life by Heath Ledger. And to cut out the suspense, Heath Ledger’s performance will never be topped. There I said it. I have had endless discussions on Heath’s portrayal of the Joker, and every time you think of that Joker & his calculated unleashing of chaos, it leaves you scared. I remember watching the movie in the theater and I remember being very disturbed by his antics. Classic quotes like “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” stick with you and resonates when you see and hear some of the stuff that goes on in this world today. While Heath’s Joker was a cruel sadist who enjoyed bringing out the evil within the man for his pleasure, Joaquin’s Joker is just an angry soul who is out to vent it on people. He is not into mindgames, he doesn’t want to test their morals, he just wants to get even. And I think that’s about what I can conclude from this movie. Don’t get me wrong, Joker (2019) is a very good movie, and considering how we are flooded with big bang superhero movies with very less substance, this is levels above its peers.
Also, its a bit unfair to expect anyone to top Heath’s performance. That was a once in a lifetime performance, made even more untouchable for the sheer fact that he never had a chance to reprise it and he actually never even got to a stage where he could give his thought process of how he approached the character and what he aimed for the character to deliver. He never lived to see the cult following that character gained.
To be fair to Joaquin, watching Joker, it clearly shows that he knew what he was up against, and he did put it in his all for the character. He was consistent in his character. But there is only so much he could do within the confines of the script. Heath, in hindsight, had a much superior canvas to play his role and by this I mean, great cast, exceptional talents in Nolan brothers.
In the end, I was left with the feeling of satisfaction, Joker managed to be a respectable second to the Dark Knight, but its that gap between the two that keeps a good movie from being into a timeless classic.