Saturday, November 01, 2008

Yeah, I know...

Apparently some readers are having trouble understanding a section of my Joker review. I address the overlap between the Azzarello/Bermejo graphic novel and the Christopher Nolan film in this paragraph:

Whether it's true or not, "Joker" feels like it was commissioned specifically as a tie-in to the biggest movie of the year. It's not an adaptation of "The Dark Knight," nor is it exactly a spin-off, but it's informed by that movie, even though -- given the lead time on projects like this -- it must have been written long before Azzarello saw the film in theaters. Yet there's a clear Heath Ledger influence here, and it seems as if Azzarello and Bermejo were working off early teaser trailer indications of the film, and then extrapolating from there. Their version of the Joker isn't the same as what we see in the movie, but it's certainly on the Ledger end of the spectrum. And I think that's a respectable choice, considering that Ledger has defined the character for our generation.

I'm getting angry e-mails demanding that I "check [my] facts" and telling me all about Bermejo developing the Joker look back in 2005. I understand all of that. Which is exactly why I included key words like "whether it's true or not," "feels," and "seems." I know they couldn't have seen the movie before they produced the graphic novel, and I even include the sentence saying, "it must have been written long before Azzarello saw the film in theaters."

So, please, relax. I didn't get any facts wrong. But I may have been a bit unclear.

Ledger's portrayal still informs the Joker of the graphic novel whether or not the creators saw his performance at any time during the project's development. His performance is the definitive Joker for this era, and with the Ichi the Killer look of both Ledger and the Bermejo version, it's impossible to separate them at this point. This graphic novel "feels" and "seems" related to the film version. That doesn't mean it was intended to be.

14 comments:

Vanja said...

It seems to be very much inspired by the movie. In any instance, it should be noted that Bermejo's allegedly spent 3 years on what is essentially a 6-issue mini. And that's criminally slow, any way you cut it.

On the other hand, Azzarello suprised me by being as coherent as he was. I remember being lost by the end of Batman: Broken city, and Lex Luthor: Man of Steel was pretty impenetrable on the first read. This time around, I the whole thing reads great:)

Timothy Callahan said...

Yup--this book makes a whole lot more sense than the end of Broken City.

Jack Tango said...

I think the problem with the statement about Ledger's Joker "informing" Azzarello and Bermejo's, is that it implies ownership of a characterization.

What you're really talking about is a synchronicitous characterization; certain terms like "whether it's true or not" could have been, "Although not conceived as a tie-in to the movie, there are strikings similarities..." or some such.

I think, in any regard, your wording could have stood to be clearer. As it currently stands it's almost accusatory, whether that's true or not. ;-)

Timothy Callahan said...

Well, I do have to admit that I like the ambiguity of my wording because it's impossible to know how directly the film influenced the book. I know that it was written before the release, but there's a reason a Joker hardcover was scheduled for release this year, and I have a hard time believing it was completely created without any kind of knowledge of what Nolan and company were doing.

And it doesn't matter whether it was or not, because it feels that way. Once again, it's important to remember that intent is irrelevant for interpretation. Effect is all that matters.

marcwrz said...

You're getting angry e-mails? Welcome to Fame Tim. FAME.

Kris Krause said...

Yeah, I thought to myself when I saw your review yesterday, "he's going to get a lot of people e-mailing him about this one."

I wasn't going to respond, because I don't really care too much about where you may or may not think Joker came from creatively, but I don't like the argument that effect and what a reader "feels" when reading a text is all that matters. It seems to be paradoxical for you to use that argument, yet take the time to dispel the effect your purposefully ambiguous diction had on your readers. If effect is all that matters, why bother to let us in on your intent?

Besides, a little critiquing the critic never hurt anybody. ;) Batman #681 will come out in a few weeks and you will write some blog or WWC about its underlying metaphors and themes and everyone will love you again.

Jack Tango said...

So, then, it's settled. We storm the castle at dawn!

Timothy Callahan said...

Kris--I am full of paradoxical thinking. That's how I roll.

matt st. pierre said...

I sent Tim angry emails, but they weren't because of his "Joker" review.

But I really didn't. And if I did, they would actually be because of his review.

But they wouldn't be.

Timothy Callahan said...

I think you're right.

Or maybe I don't.

James said...

Man, no disrespect to Bermejo, the film-makers, or anybody ever, but a Chelsea-smilin' Joker doesn't seem like the kind of earth-shatteringly original idea anyone needs to get precious about.

andy khouri said...

No, no, no. See, Tim, comic books take a long time to make. It'd be impossible for Azzarello and Lee Bermejo to have seen "The Dark Knight" before creating their graphic novel, so there's really just no way "Joker" can be a rip-off of that movie, as you claim.

Timothy Callahan said...

Oh, yeah. That is true. I mean comic books take a lot longer than the quick, disposable motion pic-ture format.

Julian Darius said...

It wasn't only the look of the Joker, it was also the shades of anarchy, of not caring about money, etc. Clearly not Ledger's Joker but not DC's normal one either.