The film “Joker,” released Oct. 4, has become a box office sensation with the film having the highest grossing opening weekend of October, a record previously held by “Venom.” For those who enjoyed the film and wish to explore types of media, including film, television, music and video games, similar to “Joker,” here is a list of items to check out.
10. Batman: The Killing Joke
The graphic novel by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland is easily one of the greatest Batman/Joker stories ever written with complex dialogue and brilliant artwork. The comic follows The Joker, who kidnaps Commissioner Jim Gordon and tires to drive him insane with only Batman to save him. The comic relies heavily on the complex relationship between Batman and The Joker, with Batman commenting how their relationship is destined to end up with one of them killing the other.
Alan Moore is an absolute genius with comics like “Watchmen,” “V for Vendetta” and “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” under his belt, and “The Killing Joke” is a grand display of his talent. The film “Joker” definitely took influence from this comic including the treatment of Joker’s backstory.
9. The Wall
The legendary double album by Pink Floyd and the subsequent tour and film all tackle a feeling that the Joker faces in the film “Joker:” isolation. The album tells the story of a rock star named Pink who finds himself separated from the world by a metaphorical wall which he’s built after enduring trauma from his school, wife and mother.
Tracks like “In The Flesh,” “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” and “Run Like Hell” perfectly represent the anarchy and chaos that the Joker seeks to create. While the album may not directly relate to the film “Joker,” it certainly asks the same questions the film does.
8. Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy
According to Entertainment Weekly, Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese was originally supposed to produce “Joker.” While he eventually left the project, it’s clear that “Joker” took plenty of influence from two of Scorsese’s best films: “Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy.”
Both of these films deal with mentally deranged protagonists, played by Robert De Niro, who seek acceptance from society, only to be rejected and turn to crime. “Joker” even acknowledges this by having Robert De Niro star as talk show host Murray Franklin, clearly an homage to De Niro’s role in “The King of Comedy” as Rupert Pupkin.
7. The Dark Knight Returns
If one was to look for another comic book writer who rivals Alan Moore, Frank Miller is a pretty good fit. His work includes “Batman: Year One,” “Daredevil” and “Sin City,” but his greatest work is easily “The Dark Knight Returns.” The four part comic series sees Bruce Wayne, now 55 years old, come out of retirement to once more fight crime as Batman.
While the Joker only plays a large role in the third issue of the series, his presence isn’t easily forgotten. In fact, both “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Joker” feature the Clown Prince of Crime going on a talk show. “The Dark Knight Returns” is one of the finest confrontations between Batman and his arch nemesis.
6. The Dark Knight
It’s no secret why “The Dark Knight” makes this list. Not only is it one of the greatest comic book films ever made, not only does it have an amazing plot analyzing the battle between good and evil, but it contains arguably the greatest Joker thanks to the late Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning performance.
Heath Ledger creates a character surrounded in mystery with the Joker’s origin remaining a mystery. The Joker does tell multiple stories about his origin, but, much like “The Killing Joke,” it’s impossible to know which backstory, if any, is correct.
While “The Dark Knight” is arguably the best live-action Batman film, Tim Burton’s 1989 take on the character is the best adaptation from the pages of comics to the silver screen. The film made a bold decision by casting comedic actor Michael Keaton in the role of Batman, a decision which paid off. However, the best casting in the film was Oscar winner Jack Nicholson who perfectly captured both the hilarious and homicidal aspects of the character. At the time, Batman and the Joker were still associated, in the public eye, with the performances of Adam West and Ceasar Romero in the Batman television show of the 1960s.
While that adaptation is a classic, the comics had long since become darker in tone by the time “Batman” was released. While “Batman” is a dark, gothic film, it still has a sense of fun that only director Tim Burton could deliver. Jack Nicholson’s role was so well-received that it took nearly 20 years for it to be topped by Heath Ledger, because no one would dare to take on Nicholson. It’s a perfect Joker role to watch after viewing Phoenix’s take on the character.
4. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
“Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” is an animated Batman film that not only contends with “The Dark Knight” and “Batman,” but has the greatest Joker of all time, voiced by Mark Hamill. While Hamill is best known as Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars,” his voice-acting as the Joker is fantastic. Hamill has played the role in “Batman: The Animated Series,” The “Arkham” video games and “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.”
The film sees Batman, voiced by Kevin Conroy, being framed for murder of criminals by the mysterious Phantasm, voiced by Dana Delany, and is hunted down by the police. Meanwhile, The Joker, voiced by Hamill, gets involved when a mobster attempts to hire him for protection. This results in an epic battle between Batman, the Phantasm and the Joker. Even though the film, much like the animated series, was made for children, both programs contain a maturity to them that adults can appreciate.
3. Batman: Arkham City
The second game in the “Arkham” series of video games, “Batman: Arkham City,” is the best game in the series with fun gameplay and a sense of gravitas due in part to Hamil’s portrayal of the Joker. The game sees Batman, voiced by Kevin Conroy, trapped in a large structure called Arkham City which is full of insane criminals including the Joker who is dying after being poisoned in the previous game. Joker injects Batman with the same poisonous substance and so Batman must find a cure while fighting a host of bad guys.
The “Arkham” games not only feature quick paced gameplay, but also contain a fantastic story weaved into the game. Hamill’s performance is chilling as he plays a Joker who is not as lively due to his condition. Sometimes it hurts when he laughs leading to coughing fits. It’s a perfect game for lovers of the Batman saga.
2. Batman The Animated Series: The Man Who Killed Batman
This episode of “Batman: The Animated Series” is one of the best portrayals of the Joker because it analyzes how much Joker needs Batman despite him constantly trying do the Caped Crusader in. In this episode, Batman, voiced by Kevin Conroy, is seemingly killed after getting into an altercation with a cowardly criminal named Sid, voiced by Matt Frewer.
When the Joker, voiced by Mark Hamill, finds out about the death of Batman, he gets angry when he realizes that Batman being gone puts an end to his psychotic fun. This results in the Joker throwing a funeral for Batman with a fantastic eulogy delivered by Hamill and even a performance of “Amazing Grace” by Harley Quinn, voiced by Arleen Sorkin, on a kazoo. It’s a bizarre and charming episode and features one of the finest Joker moments in the character’s history.
Both “Joker” and “Psycho” contain quite a few similarities, particularly in the depiction of “Joker’s” protagonist Arthur Fleck, played by Joaquin Phoenix, and “Psycho’s” Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins. Both are mentally tortured due to overbearing mothers and must find a way out. While Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” was made over 50 years ago, it still is relevant due to the depiction of violence and shocking twists. “Joker” has attracted quite a bit of controversy as well for these same qualities which makes “Psycho” a perfect companion piece.