New rendition offers refreshing, accurate portrayal of Joker

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Last week, “Joker” premiered to a $96 million dollar domestic box office and added an additional $55 million the following weekend. I also reviewed the film and claimed that Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is a better portrayal then Heath Ledger’s performance in “Batman: The Dark Knight.” I stand by my statement and here is why: 

Phoenix has a much more physical performance. While Phoenix uses his whole body, Ledger’s performance can only be appreciated from the neck up. His facial expressions are amazing and bring you into the and the face but other than that there is nothing to the performance physically. Phoenix also has a more spot-on laugh when you think of Joker. 

There is also a weird swagger that Phoenix has in his portrayal. Ledger has this comfortability in his roll but no swagger. Phoenix’s swagger comes from his confidence that luck always goes his way or things going according to plan. Phoenix reaches that swagger because he is not focused on the philosophy of Joker. He walks in the end like everything is going according to plan. Ledger’s Joker becomes a vehicle and the embodiment for the philosophy in The Dark Knight, a pawn played by Christopher Nolan throughout the film. 

Phoenix also takes this, “it only takes one day for someone to turn out like me,” into the story. It’s about how he became the model for the philosophy that Ledger is trying to experiment on with the citizens of Gotham. Phoenix is not a vehicle of philosophy like Ledger. He is the creator waiting to test his theory. The beginnings of what Ledger ultimately becomes. 

Ledger is only as good as the person playing Batman. Ledger’s Joker is constantly referred to as the other side of the coin in the movie. The performance that Ledger gives in The Dark Knight could not be replicated in a stand-alone film. Phoenix’s Joker can move into a film that includes Batman. They are not two sides of the same coin. They are worthy adversaries that can compete head to toe. 

Phoenix is also an unreliable narrator compared to Ledger. We have to take what Joker did at face value because Batman in The Dark Knight is a reliable narrator. Having Phoenix’s Joker as an unreliable narrator makes the portrayal so much better because it leaves a lot up to the interpretation of the audience. 

Phoenix gives an all-around better performance that incorporates a lot from the past portrayals of the character, improving on what has come before him. At the end of the day, I want someone who is going to do something different and fresh with a character than see the same things re-hashed again and again. Phoenix’s physicality allows for the return of swagger into the character and separation from Batman makes for a much better performance than Ledger. And I dare anyone to try and change my mind.