Spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen Joker yet, do not proceed.
This is a character that has never ceased to entertain us. So many actors portraying so many characters under the same moniker, and yet each has left their mark on the clown prince of crown. But none better than Joaquin Phoenix. Was he a better Joker than Heath Ledger?
We don’t know. But Phoenix’s character cuts deep into our psyche and leaves us spellbound as he slowly descends into madness.
1. Finding out that Arthur’s relation with his neighbour Sophie, the only good thing in his life, was actually just a hallunication, a trick of his own imagination.
It is later revealed with a heart-wrenching realisation that that romance was entirely in his head. Fleck later sneaks into her home. Terrified, Sophie tells him about her young daughter, begging him to leave. After that we never see Sophie again, leaving her fate to our imagination.
2. Three men beat up Arthur in a subway. While he shoots at one of them in self defence, he methodically hunts the rest of them down.
Then he gets fired from his job for accidentally dropping a gun while performing at a children’s hospital. His breaking point comes moments later when he is attacked by three men on the subway. Him murdering the very last of them is a gory sequence and drives the point home.
3. After killing these men, Arthur locks himself in a bathroom and dances. Lo and behold, the Joker is born.
He had now known the fun of the hunt for humans and he wasn’t going to let it go.
4. Arthur murders his own mother after discovering the painful truth about his childhood.
The only true connection Arthur had, was with his mother Penny, who he had cared for his entire life. She had him convinced that the sole purpose of his life was to spread joy in the armpit of civilisation, that was Gotham.
Penny had told him that his real father was actually Thomas Wayne. But Arthur finds that she was actually a committed patient of the psychiatric ward of Arkham Asylum and that she had allowed him to suffer abuse from her partner.
Following this, he confronts her and quietly smothers her to death. The scene is so chilling as he remains emotionless while murdering the one person who he truly loved.
5. After murdering his mother, Arthur brutally kills his colleague, Randall, who was actually the one to hand him a gun.
After the death of his mother, Arthur is visited by his colleagues, one of whom is Randall. Randall and the others are shocked to find him sitting there with white clown make up with no real emotions. Arthur then takes another step towards madness when he stabs Randall repeatedly in the neck and slams his head against the wall.
6. Arthur shoots his idol, host Murray Franklin on live TV!
Arthur is a massive fan of Gotham TV host Murray Franklin but begins to hate him when the former mocks his stand-up set on his show and gives him the name ‘Joker’.
When Arthur is invited on Murray’s show, he had initially planned on telling a knock-knock joke and killing himself. Instead he confesses to the subway killings and rallies against the Gotham upper class. Arthur then shoots Murray in the face causing chaos in the studio and on the streets.
7. The Joker finally finds a crowd that was appreciative of him, that was willing to follow him into hell.
Joker, with all his different characterisations has always been a cult leader. His moment as a cult leader arrives in the film with the spark of the ‘Kill the Rich’ movement with followers who wear clown masks.
After being arrested for the murder of Murray, he finds himself in the backseat of a cop car, only to fall unconscious and wake up after his acolytes pull him out of a crash which they caused. He stands atop a cop car while they all surround him like he’s the Messiah. He takes blood from his mouth and gives himself the infamous Joker smile.
If you think we missed a moment that should have been on the list, do let us know.