By Ng Ziqin (20S03H)
The growing love affair between the modern viewer and the comic book film is no secret. And with superhero films like Iron Man (2008), Wonder Woman (2017), Black Panther (2018), not to mention all four Avengers movies consistently topping the box office, this trend looks set to stay. At the same time, the moral palates of modern audiences are becoming increasingly nuanced. It is no longer sufficient to throw the protagonist a cape, give him a toothpaste-commercial smile, and tell the audience, ‘Look, there’s your hero. Root for him.’ No, as the box office successes of ‘antihero’ protagonists Deadpool (2016) and Venom (2018) have proven, contemporary cinemagoers believe themselves to be more sophisticated than that. The contemporary cinemagoer craves complexity, shunning the traditional hero protagonist in favour of the more morally ambiguous, more ‘relatable’ antihero.
Joker may only be the latest in what has been a long line of highly profitable comic book films, yet it is also the first of its kind. It is the logical conclusion of the modern cinemagoer’s twin obsessions with the comic book film genre and relatable protagonists: a comic book film featuring a villain protagonist, one who receives no redemption by the end of the film.
After the disappointment that was Suicide Squad (2016), which featured the Joker for a mere fraction of its 2h 17min runtime despite teasing otherwise in the trailer, Joker feels almost like it could be an apology letter to the fans. But is it a good one? Continue reading “Joker: The Rise of A New Kind of Comic Book Film?”