The new Joker movie may take a different, slightly more realistic approach to the makeup slathered onto the face of Joaquin Phoenix (who plays the Clown Prince of Crime in this origin story), but the villain’s new look is actually borrowed from The Dark Knight’s depiction of the Joker. Just not the one you’re thinking of.
A recent Reddit post helps connect the dots, comparing Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker to some early concept art from The Dark Knight. You’ll probably notice that this concept art is a far cry from the final character design we got with Heath Ledger’s Joker, and you’re not wrong. But that’s because this art ended up influencing our first introduction to the villain of that movie in the opening scene where he works with a team of masked criminals to rob a mob-controlled bank.
Need a quick refresh on that scene from the 10-year-old movie? Here’s a screenshot of the masked Joker during the bank robbery:
And here’s the concept art (via Reddit):
The new Joker movie is basically a mix of that concept art and the final mask with just a pinch of the 1960s TV show Joker thrown in for good measure. However, it seems pretty clear that whoever’s in charge of the makeup took their inspiration from that one specific Dark Knight scene.
Joaquin Phoenix’s makeup also feels like a more realistic take on the character in general. It’s the kind of look that a normal, unhinged person might be able to pull off with a few hours in front of the mirror — unlike Heath Ledger’s incredibly detailed makeup. The fact that is also connects this new film to Christopher Nolan’s iconic film is just a perk.
Joker hits theaters on October 4, 2019.