Dark, dismal, and as realistic as it gets, Joker gives the Batman mythos a whole slew of updates that makes everything feel more grounded in the real world and, in many ways, more effective. These are just a few of the things that Joker does better than any other Batman movie.
Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal of Arthur Fleck is more relatable than any other Clown Prince we've met on the big screen. We all know what it's like to imagine romantic lives with those who don't reciprocate, to fantasize about being heralded in a world of fame, and to be recognized for being special. We don't, thankfully, all respond as Fleck does when those desires aren't fulfilled, but still, getting to know Arthur gives us something we've never had with any other Joker an understanding of why he becomes and remains the Joker.
Cesar Romero's Joker of the '60s television show was, like the rest of that series' antagonists, just a crook with a particular theme. The origins of Heath Ledger's Joker are a mystery in The Dark Knight and his motivations seem to change from scene to scene. We get to meet Jack Napier before he becomes Joker in 1989's Batman, but it doesn't help make the character more relatable. He was always kind of a huge, homicidal jerk.
Obviously, Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton had different priorities when making their respective films than Todd Phillips did with Joker, but as MCU villains like Tom Hiddleston's Loki and Josh Brolin's Thanos have taught us, the more we can relate to a supervillain, the more we enjoy their portrayal.
We briefly meet some of the Wayne family in Joker. Thomas Wayne is running for mayor, Arthur Fleck gets the opportunity to meet his future nemesis Bruce Wayne as a young boy, and we even briefly meet the butler Alfred Pennyworth. Particularly in the case of Thomas Wayne, the versions we see of the characters in Joker aren't quite the saints Bruce Wayne usually remembers in the various movies. Keep watching the video to see what Joker gets right that other Batman movies got wrong!
The man behind the smile | 0:16
Waynes' world | 1:26
Tough act to follow | 2:30
Welcome to Gotham City | 3:23
Laughing all the way to the grave | 4:08