The 2019 film, “Joker’, tells the origin story of one of DC Comics’ most notorious super villains through a dark, psychological thriller revealing the sad truths behind Arthur Fleck’s (Joaquin Phoenix) life and the events that led him to become “The Joker.”

Director Todd Phillips’ exploration of Fleck depicts a man who is rejected from mainstream society because of his mental illness and social ineptitude. He then embarks on a downward spiral of anarchy, which leads him towards a path of destruction and self-demise.

The film made over $1 billion at the box office with a budget of about $70 million.

Joaquin Phoenix, known for playing offbeat, eccentric characters, can extraordinarily power a movie that would gross this large amount — unheard of for R-rated flicks. He is more known for smaller critically acclaimed movies with character-driven roles such as the “Gladiator” and “To Die For.”

Phoenix’s stellar performance landed him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama Motion Picture. He is also nominated for Best Actor for the Academy Awards.

The film itself won Best Original Score at the Globes and is nominated in 11 categories at the Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Score — the most nominations for a superhero (or supervillain) movie ever. 

It’s rare to see a movie where the audience feels such deep connection and empathy for the antagonist, however, that might be what makes the Joker such a unique and captivating film.

Critics say that the film inspires real-life violence and displays brutal nihilism. 

The 2012 shooting massacre in Aurora, Colorado, where James Holmes was found guilty of murdering 24 individuals during the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” had also brought fear a similar event would occur in “Joker” showings. The filmmakers said the movie has nothing to do with national debates surrounding gun violence.

The film is full of violence from the main character, boiling down to mass chaos and anarchy — classic traits of the comic-book character. Although The Joker is typically thought of as a supervillain, it’s more accurate to call him the antihero of this story. His bloody crimes and violence make him evil, but his backstory and struggles with mental illness allow the audience to find a strange sense of sympathy for this character.

The film does a great job of bringing real-world situations and violence into the world of comic-book characters and supervillains. This allows the film to be relatable and enjoyable for audiences outside of the typical superhero and comic book realm.

Another thing the film does particularly well is give an explanation of the fictional city of Gotham. A city riddled with poverty and crime that looks almost post-apocalyptic, leading some to believe that this is what the American city New York, New York  will look like in a future economic crisis. However, this is not New York, it’s the grimy, shallow, fictional Gotham City.

Amanda Britt is the Photo Editor at the Daily Lobo and can be contacted at or on Twitter @AmandaBritt__