Not only is Joker now the highest-grossing R-rated film ever, but none of its competition over the past few weeks has been able to surpass its top spot at the box office. This alone should be enough to appease Warner Bros. executives who nervously took a chance on Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix’s heavily-discoursed comic book adaptation. However, with so many eyeballs across the globe so finely attuned to the movie’s apparent political themes, it seems the Joker look’s appearance at recent protests in numerous countries is taking its well beyond ticket sales.
As noted by IndieWire, French news outlet France24 reported on the surging popularity of Phoenix’s particular Joker makeup and costuming — as well as slogans from the film itself — at protests in Chile, Lebanon, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. “The face of the Joker, Batman’s ultimate nemesis, has now been seen in masks, face paint and graffiti tags in global demonstrations protesting against governments,” read the story.
French comic book historian William Blanc told the outlet the character and the film both have “a real evocative power,” evidently, adding: “It echoes a form of protest against a political system that people believe is inflexible and not listening to the people.”
Even more interesting than Blanc’s points, however, is France24’s comparison of the recent Joker movie’s version of the character’s look to the Guy Fawkes mask as popularized by the 2005 movie V for Vendetta. The latter was adopted by the hacking and global protest collective Anonymous shortly thereafter and has remained, more or less, a dominant and widespread visage. By comparing the two, though, France24 (and others) seem to be suggesting that the Joker look (along with film quotes like “we are all clowns”) may eventually replace it.