Why Can’t We Accept Change? Part 1 of a Possible Multi-Part Essay.
-Written by a man who loves comic books–
Working in a comic shop allows one to interact with their fellow humans who, most likely, have a common interest. Conversations frequently pop up and it’s always fun to see someone’s eyes light up as they share what is exciting them in the pop culture climate. With that also comes the other side of the coin. Just like Yin must have Yang, peanut butter must have jelly (not really but you get the idea), the positive is always met with a negative. Translation: there’s always someone willing to crap on something. Sometimes their eyes light up as well. Having worked at the shop for a little over seven years, one of the most often brought up complaint revolves around change. Something different. New. Before starting work on this article, I did lots and lots (really lots) of thinking and I keep asking myself: Why can’t some people accept change?
It’s human nature to not like change, but why do we obsess over it in such trivial things like comics, movies, and pop culture? Why let it ruin something we and/or others love? What sparked the idea for this article was the release of the Joker trailer earlier this month. In it we get a 2 min. 45 sec. or so glimpse at what Joaquin Phoenix, Todd Phillips, and company have in store for their version of the mad man. Personally, I loved the trailer and its accompanying poster. It’s something new, fresh and looks like it still retains some essence of the character and we will get to see one man’s descent into madness. The minute I finished watching the trailer, I knew people were going to hate it. I hoped I would be proven wrong, but the whining masses could not stay away.
What were the problems? Other than a significant change to the face paint, what can we really tell has changed from seeing three minutes of a two-hour movie? Some common themes popped up in my conversations. Below are some examples of said themes/complaints as well as my responses.
“His face paint looks nothing like Joker.”
Yes. I agree it doesn’t look like the Joker we’ve seen in the comics for ages, even though that Joker has gone through multiple iterations as well, but this is something different. This appears to be a character study. What does the Joker look like? He looks like a clown. And what clown is more terrifying than any clown? John Wayne Gacy. You know that guy that killed 33 young boys/men in the ’70s and buried them in his walls? Horrific. That paint is almost the exact same paint as Gacy’s. Plus, how much of the Joker, as a whole, is his face paint or skin color? Not a significant amount I would argue.
“Why do I care about a Joker movie without Batman in it?”
You know that story The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland, that you love so much? Take out the beginning and ending sections with Batman, as well as the part in the beginning where Batgirl and Batman have sex…wait that’s the animated version. But removing Batman parts from that book still leaves a hefty chunk of story starring only the Joker, and pre-Joker as well.
“They’re turning him into a momma’s boy, who’s crying and getting beat up. Then his mom will probably die and he’ll go crazy.”
That’s a lot of story to pull from that trailer. Seems like jumping to conclusions and making a lot of assumptions. While his mother is seen, the relationship between the two appears a little bit less than healthy (re-watch that bathing part again). And why can’t this just be one piece of a bigger puzzle that breaks and shatters the man? Yes, I realize I’m also making assumptions but this is my article…
Just a few of the many, and I mean many, opinions that crossed my counter. And I get it. I do. We love these characters and want to see them handled with care but why can’t some things be changed, even if it’s the most minute thing? Are we going to allow that to prevent us from seeing/reading/absorbing a potentially great story? I would rather see someone try, do something new and fail than give me something familiar and mediocre. Something self-contained and brilliant rather than a large, shared universe and bland. A one-shot with amazing art and story that I’ll read over and over instead of twelve issues of “It was OK but it’s been done before and I’ll forget it by the end of the next comic I read”.
This whole Joker nonsense reminds me of 2007, when Heath Ledger was announced as the next actor to portray the Joker. Cries of “A teen romcom actor?!” immediately arose. When the first picture was shown, “He’s not even laughing!” and “He has scars on the side of his face?!” and “It’s makeup, not white skin?!”. Now many think Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight is one of the best live action portrayals of the Joker ever.
So let’s not fret over changes. Let them happen and see if they can stand on their own before breaking their legs. I plan to delve deeper into this subject but it isn’t my website, so comment below and let me, Stephen and the rest of the Major Spoilers crew know your thoughts. What’s the worst that can happen? (I write another article, that’s what.)