The 2010s proved to be the age of the comic-book movies and I’m not just talking about the Avengers movies, although they certainly changed the game for superhero movies, today I will be discussing are two of the most divided comic-book films of the 2010s and they are Captain Marvel and Joker or better yet, why ‘Joker’ proves to be a much better film than ‘Captain Marvel’.
I’m Double R3 and this is “Breaking Down Scenes from Movies”. For today’s video essay, I will start with what makes the ‘Joker’ movie better than Captain Marvel. For those that have not seen the ‘Joker’ movie, major spoilers ahead. Although, if you haven’t seen it by now, shame on you. It made over a billion dollars at the box office and became Joaquin Phoenix’s most successful film.
But anyway, the joker is about a struggling stand up comedian named Arthur Fleck who is constantly bullied and disregarded by society. Fleck lives with his mother Penny working as a party clown until he is fired from his job for bringing a gun into a children’s hospital.
Afterwards, Fleck is beaten by three businessmen on a train. Fleck draws his gun and kills all three men, beginning his dark descent as one of the greatest comic book villains of all time. Now, let’s talk about Captain Marvel. Yeah I know, but it’s still part of the essay.
Captain Marvel is about a young US Fighter Pilot named Carol Danvers who is the victim of a terrible crash that gives her immeasurable powers after a Kree causes her plane engine to explode. And I’m only saying this not because I remember exactly what happened but because I’m reading that from Wikipedia.
Now, before I break down anymore differences, let me break down how both of these movies are similar. Both movies address a character that is looking for more purpose in life. I understand that that seems like a very broad explanation but that is the case in these films. Both characters have something or a series of traumatic events occur in their lives, both characters go up against a powerful group. In the Joker, Arthur Fleck goes up against the Waynes and in Captain Marvel Carol Danvers goes up against the Kree, both characters find out who they truly are: It’s revealed in Joker that Fleck was adopted and abused as a child and in Captain Marvel Danvers figures out that she was captured by the Kree after she gained her powers and lost her memory and after discovering their true selves, they decide to use their newfound persona for either evil or for good.
Now the reason audiences loved the Joker movie could be surrounded in the fact that the filmmakers brought light to a comic book villain that was never shown in a film until now, while Captain Marvel was divided amongst fans because in my opinion it seemed more like a filler in between avengers infinity war and endgame.
And that brings me to my first point. Unlike Captain Marvel, Joker was designed to be a standalone film and not be part of a cinematic universe, despite the fact that a sequel is possible. But anyway, one of the reasons that makes the Joker movie so much better than Captain Marvel is the fact that it was meant to be a standalone film, which makes it unique.
Captain Marvel on the other side of the Marvel spectrum is a movie within a collection of movies, which means that if it wants to really stand out among the comic book film genre, it needs to do something new that hasn’t been seen before and I don’t want to use these guys as a source, but rotten tomatoes consensus sounds like Captain Marvel just recycles old material.
The consensus reads: “Packed with action, humor, and visual thrills, Captain Marvel introduces the MCU’s latest hero with an origin story that makes effective use of the franchise’s signature formula”.
Did you guys hear that last part? It makes effective use of the franchise’s signature formula. It never said that Captain Marvel adds anything new in the Marvel Pantheon, it just makes effective use of an already done-before formula.
Joker’s consensus reads: “Joker gives its infamous central character a chillingly plausible origin story that serves as a brilliant showcase for its star — and a dark evolution for comics-inspired cinema”.
The consensus says that it is an evolution for the comic book film genre….and it is. It changed the game for comic book films and it did it with simplicity. It didn’t need to use extended CGI battles and epic fight scenes and that’s what made it so special. It was a departure from other superhero or villain films that rely on special effects to draw a crowd and that is what brings me to my second point as to what makes Joker better than Captain Marvel.
Joker is grounded in reality. Joker doesn’t reference any other superheroes with the exception of young Bruce Wayne, because it’s a film that attempts to tell a story about a mentally ill man that has been ignored, abused and disregarded by society and critics have been taken aback by the results. Many liberal critics are triggered by the fact that director Todd Phillips is shedding a light on a white male character that becomes a supervillain and ends up killing many people in the future. In fact, it’s so stirring for moviegoers that people have claimed it would incite violence or more mass shootings…and it didn’t. With that logic you could say the same thing about Tom Hardy’s Venom or Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool, but I won’t get into that.
Anyway, when you compare the plausibility — and that’s what Joker’s consensus says. Plausibility. — when you compare it to that of Captain Marvel, you realize that Captain Marvel by comparison is a fairy tale compared to the Joker because in reality you don’t get powers from a plane crash, you don’t have women fall out of the sky get chased by aliens and later on in the film blast an entire spaceship armada effortlessly. It….does….not….happen.
The Joker however is more plausible. It addresses the fact that there are people with mental illness, which is a real thing. It addresses neighborhood poverty, which is a real thing. It addresses the poor protesting the rich, which is a real thing and it addresses people inciting violence which is a real thing.
Had Todd Phillips taken a different direction to the origin story, like the Joker falling in a vat of acid, we would be having a very différent conversation because it would be a lot less plausible. In Detective Comics #168 in 1951, and revised in Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989, where the Joker, before he became the joker, fell into a vat of acid after a scuffle with Batman, giving him a white complexion, red scarred lips, green hair and a frightening cackle and that explanation is so lazy. It doesn’t cut deep within the motivations of why this character is the way he is.
Captain Marvel’s origin is just as implausible, except with aliens, spaceships and devices that allow you to look inside a person’s mind. I’m actually hoping that there isn’t a sequel to the Joker because if there’s a sequel and/or cinematic universe based on this one movie, Joker would lose its uniqueness and end up being lost in a slew of movies that are only being made to make money, because the best things in life must always come to an end….you know what I’m talking about Star Wars.
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