Not Funny Anymore, by Tyler Smith
One can only attend San Diego Comic-Con for so long before one starts to get a little bit tired of the Joker. He’s everywhere. People are dressed as the Jared Leto Joker, the Heath Ledger Joker, the Jack Nicholson Joker, the comic book Joker, and the video game Joker. Art exhibits everywhere, and always at least one panel about the background or psychology of Batman’s greatest enemy.
The only character that might be more prolific is Harley Quinn, and she’s a function of the Joker!
Yes, of course, the character has become more interesting as he’s been explored more deeply in the last few decades. In the 1980s and 90s, he became much more nihilistic and philosophical in his crimes, which would then go on to inform the Oscar-winning performance by Heath Ledger in 2008. The Joker was specific in his look and his methods, but vague enough to be a stand-in for more modern discussions like terrorism and torture.
However, with the recent announcement that a new solo Joker movie – penned by Todd Philips and Scott Silver – will be released in the near future, the Joker runs the risk of being overexposed. The rumors that Leonardo DiCaprio is in talks to play the character is a bit encouraging, especially after the mixed reactions to Jared Leto’s odd interpretation (which I actually kind of liked). But this doesn’t change the fact that, with each new appearance, we are that much closer to demystifying a character that is notable primarily for his ambiguity. And to build an entire movie around the Joker is to commit fully to at least some type of explanation for why he does what he does.
If everything goes as is currently rumored, there will be a DiCaprio-starring Joker movie in 2018, and I’m sure it will be rated R and will be extremely successful. But, box office success isn’t the same as artistic success, and I think we’re getting to the point where the Joker well could start running dry very soon, making the Clown Prince of Crime just the latest golden goose that Hollywood has utterly destroyed.