Joker Has A Major Reference To Heath Ledger’s Dark Knight Performance

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Ever since Joaquin Phoenix was cast to play the Clown Prince of Crime in Todd Phillips’ original origin story, Joker, comparisons and dismissals have been based on Heath Ledger’s incomparable and infamous performance in The Dark Knight. And while The Hangover director certainly takes the character in a new direction, casting his creation into a world of bargain-less politics, he momentarily stops and taps into the Batman mythology.

And one important scene in particular sees the Oscar contender pay homage to Nolan’s comic book classic. But be wary, Batman fans, this moment takes place at the core of the film’s lunacy, the climax of its chaos. So here’s your spoiler warning.

Joker‘s final act sees Arthur go on to the late night talk show “Live! With Murray Franklin” donning full, creepy clown makeup. Invited onto the show to play the part of Murray’s (Robert De Niro) punching bag, the interview takes a turn for the worst. Arthur confesses to the triple murder live on the air, and after a testy exchange with Murray over the morality of the events, he shoots the TV host in the head with all of Gotham watching. The “Joker,” as he asks Murray to call him, is promptly arrested and taken into custody, where the film pays a quick homage to Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight.

Murray’s murder has tipped Gotham over the edge, sending its boiling class war into harsh battle. Sitting in the back of a police car, Arthur wearily peers up at the city’s skyline that’s brushing by. This shot is the perfect counterpart to one of The Dark Knight‘s most iconic images, in which Heath Ledger cons the GCPD and escapes custody in his own police car. The eerily malevolent shot, which you can see down below, is one of the more harrowing in an already horrifying production.

Joker dark knight

Now that Joker is in theaters, be sure to check this moment out for yourself. After you do so, please let us know what you think about it, given that it’s among the most contentious and polarizing movies of the year and is sure to have people talking for many months to come.

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