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Joaquin Phoenix’ Joker Took Inspiration From A 1989 Batman Quote

One of the most iconic quotes of Jack Nicholson is from 1989 Batman, “Have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight,”. Thirty years later, Joaquin Phoenix’ Joker replayed this moment quite literally. 

Hollywood has witnessed several A-List actors take on the classic Joker’s role. But only a few succeeded to deliver a timeless masterpiece. Jack Nicholson, Heath ledger, and Joaquin Phoenix are the most revered Jokers whose portrayals took us by storm. Each iteration created some iconic moments and dropped spine-chilling quotes. The one talked about in this article ended up inspiring the 2019 Joker. With some tweaks, it enabled Phoenix’ Arthur Fleck to take an entirely new route.

Nicholson delivered this line during his visit to Vicky Vale’s house. Finding Bruce Wayne at the location had not only surprised but disappointed the Joker. It sparked an exchange of blows from both ends, which led the Joker to say these famous words. 

With “danced with the Devil”, Jack Napier was referring to his and Bruce Wayne’s common fate. Both of their pasts and dark fates were interlinked, resulting in their transforming into Joker and Batman. Bruce grew up to become Batman, who fought crimes, after his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne died at the hands of Jack Napier. Similarly, Jack became the notorious Joker after falling into a container of chemicals while facing Batman. Dancing with the Devil meant having no control over fate except for going along with it.

What Happened in 2019 Joker?

Now director Todd Phillips took this line and twisted it to adapt to Arthur Fleck’s backstory. In the case of Arthur Fleck, it wasn’t fate but his battle against his darkness and the society that pushed him to become the Joker. He was struggling with mental illness and being suppressed by the cruel society only drove him further towards the edge. Instead of dealing with his condition, Arthur was forced to bottle up his feelings and thoughts. 

He was just one trigger away from descending into complete insanity. In the end, instead of trying to fit in, Arthur embraced his dark self and “danced” with it. Dancing down the stairs was his way of accepting his true self and welcoming his new identity as the unpredictable and reckless Joker. He unlocked the Devil inside him and celebrated the moment.

Written by Ipshita Barua