Joker is about to make its presence felt on the world, but just what are the critics saying about the Joaquin Phoenix-led film?

DC’s Joker may just be the most heavily-anticipated standalone comic book movie in a very long time. The Joaquin Phoenix-led flick is in no way tied to Warner Bros.’ DC Extended Universe and is considered by many to be the first real Elseworlds film.

Centering on failed comedian Arthur Fleck, the film gives an insight into how the society around him ultimately drove him to a life of crime and, in the process, created the greatest villain of all time. It’s a more realistic take on the source material and, in many ways, is only a comic book movie in name.

With an actor like Phoenix in the lead, and The Joker’s prestigious history as a compelling big screen villain, it goes without saying that fans are excited for the film’s release. But they won’t have to wait much longer, as the film had its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival yesterday, August 31. And with the premiere inevitably comes the reviews.

So far, Joker has received acclaim from the majority of critics, with most of them praising Phoenix’s award-worthy performance, as well as the film’s unique presentation. In fact, it even received an eight-minute standing ovation after it was screened at the festival.

Below are reviews from some of the available outlets:


“Joaquin Phoenix gives a tour de force performance, fearless and stunning in its emotional depth and physicality. It’s impossible to talk about this without referencing Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance from The Dark Knight… The fact is, everyone is going to be stunned by what Phoenix accomplishes, because it’s what many thought impossible — a portrayal that matches and potentially exceeds that of The Dark Knight’s Clown Prince of Crime.”

The Guardian

“What a gloriously daring and explosive film Joker is. It’s a tale that’s almost as twisted as the man at its centre, bulging with ideas and pitching towards anarchy.

“Having brazenly plundered the films of Scorsese, Phillips fashions stolen ingredients into something new, so that what began as a gleeful cosplay session turns progressively more dangerous – and somehow more relevant, too. “


“…[T]he whole movie, in spirit, is a kind of origin-story riff on Heath Ledger’s performance in “The Dark Knight”: the comic-book villain as Method psycho, a troublemaker so intense in his cuckoo hostility that even as you’re gawking at his violence, you still feel his pain.

“Phoenix’s performance is astonishing. He… is playing a geek with an unhinged mind, yet he’s so controlled that he’s mesmerizing.”

Others have indeed given praise where it’s due while also pointing out a shortcoming or two in the process.

The Independent

“It’s very hard to make films about super villains which don’t either glamourise them or lapse into comic book cliche. This feature, though, is powerful and original, with much of the same kick as the Scorsese movies to which it pays such obvious homage.”


“Joker is the boldest and most exciting superhero movie since “The Dark Knight.” It’s also incendiary, confused, and potentially toxic.”

From all of that it’s clear that Joker has gone down really well with the vast majority of critics. As of writing, it holds an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and, given that most fans were hoping the film would succeed, it’s nothing short of amazing to see the reaction that it’s getting.

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The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert DeNiro, Zazie Beets and Frances Conroy. It is directed by Todd Phillips from a script that he co-wrote with Scott Silver. Phillips also produced alongside Bradley Cooper and Emma Tillinger Koskoff.

Joker hits theaters on October 4, 2019.


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