Are ‘Heath Ledger’ and ‘Joaquin Phoenix’ the same Joker?


The fans of the character 'Joker ' were more shocked than the fans of Heath Ledger, who played ‘Joker ’ in ‘ The Dark Knight ’ movie when the latter departed for heavenly abode in 2008 at a tender age of 28. They wanted to see more of joker and the ending of the movie " The Dark Knight " had left the scope for it by not showing him dead in the movie. But, the producers of the movie knew that the stellar performance of Heath Ledger has posed a challenge before them about the acceptability of anyone else playing the joker.


Finally, with the release of the movie ‘Joker ’ in 2019, all the speculations surrounding the character were put to rest. Not only did Joaquin phoenix, playing the titular role, garnered the love of fans, he also received critical acclaim for his performance bagging the Academy Award in the best actor category this year. However, the question still remains that whether it was the same joker that we had seen in ‘ The Dark Knight ’ thereby claiming to become the only second character, after ‘Vito Corleone’ of The Godfather’, for which two different actors won Oscar.

Many of us would argue that, of course, the character Joker of the two movies are one and the same. And in its support, they would say that story of both the movies were woven around same Gotham city. Both the movies carry many similar characters like Bruce Wayne, Thomas Wayne and the Joker himself. Also, the movie was loosely based on the DC Comics character of the same name.


But the close scrutiny reveals that it is not the case as it seems to be prima facie. Firstly, the entire team that is the Directors, Producers and even actors in both the movies are totally different. While ' The Dark Knight ' was directed by Christopher Nolan, for ‘Joker ’ Todd Philips was assigned job behind the camera. Even the creative team commissioned for writing the screenplay was different. The story of ‘ The Dark Knight’ was lifted from the DC Comics and, on the other hand, the story of joker was an eclectic mixture of characters and background from the films of Martin Scorsese like ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976) and ‘The King of Comedy’(1982) and it even doesn’t open with a DC Comics logo.

Various incidents from both the movies too don’t allude to any crystal clear similarity between the characters. We do believe that Joker of The Dark Knight is an inveterate liar and we can’t buy his side of the story that his father was responsible for the dreary cut and scar on either side of this mouth. Yet, we don’t get to see the real story behind it in the ‘Joker’ movie which claims to be the original story of Joker. Also, the ‘laughing disease’ of the ‘Arthur Fleck’ aka Joker in both the movies has no similarity at all, and it is left to the imagination of the audience that he might have convalesced from this disease by undergoing some treatment.


The character ‘Joker ’ has been one of the most experimented characters in Hollywood resulting into the release of more than 10 movies. Joker of ‘Joker ’ movie is also nothing but the result of one such experiment claiming to be one of the many possible original stories of Joker from ‘ The Dark Knight ’. It can’t be denied that it was an attempt to encash the wide popularity of joker played by Heath Ledger and there is nothing wrong at all in it. Movie making is a creative business and the makers of 'Joker ' too had every right of creative liberty to come up with their own version of the story and, on that parameter, the movie ‘Joker’ is also a great movie besides " The Dark Knight. "

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