Esquire has written a few articles about Joker, all of which try to paint it in a negative light. Though the movie isn’t without flaws, like every movie ever made, the ones they try to point out are stretching it. Heres’ a quick rundown of their questions, and my answers after seeing it once. Spoilers, obviously
1. Wasn’t the fun of Joker in the first place that he had no backstory, that he was simply an agent of chaos? In The Dark Knight, sure. In Batman (1989), we knew his full backstory. Crazy how everyone has been comparing ALL the Jokers, including Nicholsons, and acting as if his version didn’t show how he was created. Its definitely a cool plot device, him just being crazy, but like how he says in Killing Joke, his backstory is multiple choice. The newest movie is just another option on the list of choices.
2. If his relationship with Zazie Beetz was all imagined, what other major characters or plot points must have also happened in his head? That’s a good question, and also not one that needs to be answered. That’s point of the movie, not a plot hole.
3. Did the entire late night appearance scene happen in his head? Entirely possible. Still- point of the movie, not a plot hole.
4. Did the afterward of him in Arkham Asylum really happen? See 2 and 3.
5. Why establish an unreliable narrator with no basis or benchmark for reality? Not every movie needs to be laid out from start to finish. Making the audience question what they’re seeing is actually a great tool in films, and some times its hailed as groundbreaking and clever. Depending on whether the reviewing source wants it to be, which you clearly don’t.
6. Are we supposed to care about the Joker? Yes, and no. You should care about what he represents. He’s not someone you should be worshipping though after seeing the movie, trying to emulate. If he is, then that says more about you as a person, and you’re exactly the type of person Joker is, who needs more help than they’re getting.
7. Are we supposed to sympathize with the Joker? Yes, to an extent. Just as you would anyone with a mental illness that they can’t control. Systems were in place that should have helped, but they were also cut, and it was out of his hands to continue to maintain stability in a system that didn’t give a shit about him.
8. Of course, this was the ‘80s, but how shitty is Thomas Wayne’s security that a dangerous man was able to approach his child alone at their house, then in the bathroom, then a separate man kill them at the end? Pretty sure you could buy a map of the stars houses in LA right now and waltz around at least within a close proximity of their property. Also pretty sure that it was never an issue with anyone that the Waynes were killed in public before by some nobody with a gun, again, unless your narrative is to knock the movie, then it shouldn’t be an issue here.
9. So… he killed Zazie Beetz, right? There was no noticeable signs he did, at least that I could see. It’s totally possible though, and it’s totally possible he didn’t. Again, not a plot hole to leave some things up to the audience.
10. Did her daughter make it? See 9
11. The film depicted his descent into madness, but how does this guy become a criminal mastermind? He doesn’t seem capable of devising any complicated schemes? And he didn’t. He got on the show by sheer luck pretty much, and the most complicated thing he did was not letting the gun fall out of his pants when he walked out, maybe because that was something he had done earlier and wouldn’t make the same mistake? Now if you’re talking about the schemes he would devise in the future, such as when he fights Batman, well that’s all assumptions about who he is in the future. There is no narrative for us to look at as a sequel, so any thoughts regarding his character in the future are just guesses.
12. No one was chasing him after he snatched his mom’s file at Arkham? He just had time for a nice stairwell read? Well only one guy saw him do it, who had to make his way after him. Not knowing totally the architecture of the building, who’s to say how long it would take him to get to the other side of the cage. It’s also fairly plausible the guy honestly didn’t care that much.
13. Why did he have to be adopted? Were they just really trying to hammer home the daddy issues thing? Adding an extra plot device isn’t a plot hole, and if it were to hammer home the daddy issues, I don’t see why it’s a big deal. He knows even less about who he is after finding that out, which if I were a guessing man, helped push him deeper down the psychotic path he was already headed.
14. And what self-respecting goon going to look at Joker and be like, “Yes, I’m down to be this dude’s henchman?” In a world where millions of people look at the Kardashians as role-models simply because they exist, follow Trump while simultaneously ignoring any hate speech he spreads, are Washington Redskin fans (which is just an awful choice for a multitude of reasons), or believe anything that has ever come out of Alex Jones mouth, you’re going to ask this question?
15. So Joker’s like a senior citizen by the time Batman gets on the scene? Could be in his 50’s, could very well be his biggest enemy, causing the most chaos and danger, at any age. Doesn’t need to be within fighting age, as he can cause plenty of problems without ever laying a finger on Batman. In fact, how much older was Nicholson than Keaton?
16. If the late night appearance really did happen, how did suspected murderer get on TV? The two detectives really didn’t tell anyone back at the precinct about their suspect? It’s entirely possible the two had absolutely no way of making contact. The detectives suspected him, but not enough to put out any alerts where he would be prime suspect. It’s also the early 80’s, nobody was checking their instagrams to see who the guests on Murray were that night. Once he escaped, they had no idea where he was on his way to. And of all places, I don’t think they were exactly thinking he was going to be a guest star on a television show that night. Plus, they wound up in critical condition in the hospital, I doubt they were telling the EMTS to phone all talk shows and make sure he wasn’t a guest that night. They were just trying not to die.
17. Did they really need to use the song from convicted pedophile Gary Glitter, who will now earn royalties from this movie? The scene was great, the song was great. Using a fuckin psychotic whackadoos song to show the mentality of another fuckin psychotic whackadoo makes sense. If we’re going to no longer allow the use of anything where someone of evil will profit because of their involvement, there’s quite a few Weinstein movies that should be taken out of rotation. Not too mention, any replay of 7th Heaven, the Cosby Show or any song produced by Phil Spector.
18. I know smoking was big in the ’70s…but did Joker have to smoke that much? Well, it was big in the ’70s, like you said. Though this is the 80’s, not that that makes a difference. People didn’t give a shit about mental health, much less lung health. And the dude also took himself off his meds. This isn’t a plot hole, far from it.
19. Why did Joker’s clown buddy treat him so nicely and give him a handgun and then later lie about it? He made it clear Joker would owe him in the future, the lie was he said Arthur went to him in the first place for the gun. This plays into what may be real and what might not be, if he gave it to him free willingly then he of course was going to lie down the line about it, but if Arthur asked him for it, then it played into what the clown manager dude was saying about how everyone was afraid of Arthur.
20. Why did Todd Phillips choose to write so many jokes about the little person in the movie? Midget jokes are funny, this needs absolutely no more explanation.
21. Why didn’t they cut the TV broadcast right after the talk show host was shot in the head? Fear and pandemonium? I knew when the scene started that he was going to kill him, but it still shocked me. Now think of some schlub producer in the back trying to figure out what this guy dressed as a clown is going to say next, I highly doubt blowing the hosts brains all over the place was a worry. He could have been in shock and not cut quick enough, or he could’ve been doing what everyone else in the studio was, and getting the fuck out of there.
22. If Joker is so addicted to cigarettes right now, how the heck is he going to be able to fight Batman in 20 years? He’ll quit them cold turkey, or switch to vaping, or just be one of those people who somehow goes his entire life smoking a pack a day and lives a long life. His voice still will never be as raspy as Bales Batman though, should they ever meet.
23. Does Joker not recall his childhood at all? Did he block out the memories of his abuse? It’s 100% possible. People block traumatizing things out of their memory all the time, only to have it flashback when unfortunately triggered. Disturbing, sick shit happens to people everyday, you don’t hear about it all, and you wouldn’t want to. It’s not a plot hole, it’s just a very bad case of PTSD
24. How did his mother get to continue raising him after the media reported on her abusive parenting? It’s a shitty system, that doesn’t care that much about the kids as it does pretending to look like it does. In almost all cases of child abuse, the goal is somehow always reunification with the parent. In 1980’s Gotham, I have a feeling the CPS workers were probably even lazier than they are now, and smoking just as much as Arthur.
25. Did Arthur go in the refrigerator and hallucinate the entire ending of the film? It’s possible. I don’t think so, but it’s definitely possible.
26. What was the big joke in the ending that the Arkham psychologist “Wouldn’t understand?” That the whole thing was in his head? That, like your article, he just realized he created Batman all those years later, or just the entire thing- from the moment he killed his mother to right there- that life is just one big joke.
27. Why does Joker say he’s not political? He uses his entire segment on the talk show to make a politically charged excuse for his actions. He makes a case for mental health and how nobody really gives a shit about it, thats not political, thats true. Sure, politicians are out there throwing out terms like mental illness and speaking about how we need to find ways to treat it, but that’s just a talking point for them. Arthur was a victim of a system that didn’t give a shit about the mentally ill, on a show with a host who was poking fun at it without even realizing it. It’s not always red and blue, and that’s what he meant when he said he’s not political.
28. All said and done, what was the point of this movie? What was it trying to say? The same as any movie, thats up to the viewer to determine
29. If this is a movie that’s saying society is the real villain, doesn’t that just excuse the behavior of evil white men who commit murder? I don’t think anyone out there would excuse anything he did in the movie, nor would they in real life. Looking to deeper reasons behind why they do the things they do isn’t excusing them. It’s trying to find answers to how to stop it from happening again. Nobody is shoving any behaviors under a rug, rather, they want to know why things happened, and how we can stop it from happening again.
30. If we’re to think of this within the greater context of the DC universe, isn’t this movie basically implying that the only answer to our poisoned society that produces evil white men is to have another white man become a vigilante who doesn’t operate under any laws or regulations? If we’re thinking of this within the greater context of the DC Universe, we’re also thinking aliens will come to earth soon from the planet Krypton. Maybe that’s why Todd Phillips keeps saying, it’s just a stand alone movie.
Regardless if you read Esquire and listen to their word, Joker was one of the best movies I have ever seen. Go see it now in theaters while you can, and maybe in a month when Esquire decides they like it now, they’ll even give you ten tips for dressing like Joker this fall.