The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan’s distinctive use of Joker’s costume is greatly significant to the narrative of “The Dark Knight”; it provides insight to the iconic super villain of “The Joker” and highlights how this portrayal is modernised in comparison to past ones, showing how the super villain role has changed in superhero films.
As with Jokers in all media types Health Ledger keeps with classic green, orange and purple attire. This strong, bright colour use is used to contrast with Batman’s black darkness, shows the difference between the characters in a basic physical sense. The strong shades of those colors paired together hurt the eye. The effect is garish, painful, off-putting, and even nauseating. By utilizing these colors, the Joker becomes someone our eye is drawn to and yet someone we want to look away from. This affects the audience by making us dislike the Joker for his actions but still feel entertained and interested by him.
However the most important part of Joker’s costume is his face, white face, black eyes, and overly wide, red slash of a mouth, which makes him look ghoulish and frightening. This also helps determine distinction between Batman whose makeup and cowl mask two-thirds of his face, the Joker’s makeup highlights his eyes and mouth, drawing our attention repeatedly to his expression. While Batman is based upon secrecy and avoidance, the Joker shows he is about emotion and connection, with how close he gets to his victims eg. Rachel, and the black gang leader. This seems very unconventional; Batman is the protagonist yet we feel no real emotional bond but with the Joker we have more of a connection, even if he it is lying about who he is. We do actually see the Joker briefly without his makeup when he disguises himself as a policeman to assassinate the mayor. Apart from his scarred mouth, which is not as obvious as you would think, the Joker has a regular face. How he chooses to wear the makeup and dye is hair is completely different to the original comic origin, of how he was submerged in acid and his hair is turned green, face turned white, and a permanent red smile. Instead this Joker has only a “Glasgow Smile”, a common gang act of slicing ones mouth open, this infers that there is nothing really significant that differentiates him as a villain. It’s only when he puts on his “war paint” that he becomes a larger-than-life villain suggesting that beneath the surface, every villain was once an ordinary citizen. Or, perhaps, that every citizen has the potential to become a villain given the proper motivation. The connection between audience and villain in the comic book/superhero has always been distant if existent at all, The Dark Knight challenges this conception and accentuates the bond between villain and audience instead of the hero and audience relationship.
(Character Representation/Engagement or Positioning of Audience) Nolan’s original reinterpretation of the Joker shows that the idea behind him has been altered and modernized to more greatly adapt to the audience. The lack of explained origin in the film and developed maturity of the Joker shows that Nolan is trying to forever change what it is to be a super villain. The lack of a Joker origin story results in the audience never really gets to know him as a character. The short scene after his jail escape when the Joker is wildly hanging out of the back of a police car and the camera is looking at him from angle of a side mirror is very important. Symbolically it places him in a position of power, in the police car without lead-up although he has just appeared this parallels to how he never tells anyone like Rachel, the black gang leader and almost with Batman the truth about his past and has just “appeared” in Gotham. This absence is a violation of comic book general formulae for characters; in comics they commonly have a beginning, to either becoming a hero or villain. The main reason for this was that...
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