SHIELD takes Sterns and does experiments on him. The last time we see him, he’s floating in a big tank and called “PROJECT MR. BLUE,” referring to the pseudonym he used in his correspondence with Bruce Banner. Imagine you had a shitty instant messenger name, and then you were in a terrible accident. Then, before you even had the chance to do anything with your new powers, a secretive organization kidnapped you and did invasive procedures on you for years. And you never even got to have your own monster nickname. You just had to stare at “PROJECT FALLOUTBOYFAN93” all day. That’s the life of Samuel Sterns, the world’s most depressing movie monster.
Batman Has A Subplot About The Joker’s Insane Human Art Piece
A common observation is that superheroes and their respective villains have only gotten grimmer. The colorful costumes and optimistic aspirations have been replaced by bloodstained jackets and themes like “What if bad guys …are bad?” So people look at things like Tim Burton’s Batman the way you’d look at a child proclaiming that they want to be the world’s first astronaut / president / sentient taco. “Oh, those knuckleheads. They thought comic book stories could be mostly positive. Little did they know that superheroes mostly suck, and the world sucks, and it’s not a real movie unless it all goddamn sucks.”
But if you somehow find Burton’s incarnation of the Caped Crusader to be lighthearted entertainment, you must have missed a lot of the movie. Because in the midst of all of the “You wanna get nuts?” and parades, Jack Nicholson’s Joker is pulling some heinous stuff. By that I mean he’s using his former girlfriend as an experimental art piece. In the beginning of the film, Jack Napier has an assistant to the regional manager position in the Gotham mob. He does a lot of work, but he’s never gonna be promoted by his boss, Carl Grissom. However, he is parking his wonderful toy in the Batcave of his Grissom’s girlfriend, Alicia. Eventually, Jack becomes the Joker, kills Grissom, and when Alicia sees Jack in his new, umm, face, she faints.
The next time we see Alicia, she’s wearing this Eyes Without A Face-esque mask and being led around as an example of the Joker’s work. It’s the Joker’s version of that guy at the party that carries around a guitar, hoping that someone, anyone will ask him about it. When he reveals Alicia’s “new” face to Vicki Vale (who Joker is also hitting on. Read the room, dude), she’s got a huge scar and whitened skin.
Long before Harley Quinn ever leapt into pop culture, the Joker was going full Sander Cohen and attempting to make his own clown-faced henchwoman. Only, instead of getting this whimsical, lovable gun moll, we got pitiful Alicia, whom the Joker seems to be trying to recreate in his own image. We later learn that Alicia throws herself out of a window, and the Joker responds to this with, “Well, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” That’s certainly one way to put it. Another way is “Oh my god. I know that you’re poisoning all of the shampoo in Gotham and starring in goofy commercials, but that torture art project thing was soooo much worse.”
That’s way heavier than anything in The Dark Knight or Batman v Superman. So no, superhero films aren’t getting darker. They’re just desperate to catch up with how messed up Burton’s Batman is.
Daniel has a Twitter, where he mostly talks about Pokemon. Sorry about that.
Even the most devoted superhero fans can get a little tired of–j/k if you like looking for interesting easter eggs and comic books check out Alan Moore’s Top Ten, Judgment Day, and his underrated classic Superman tribute Supreme.
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Catch a faceful of funny Thursday, October 19, at The Cracked Stand Up Show hosted by Alex Schmidt and featuring Soren Bowie, Eddie Della Siepe, Joel Samataro, Riley Silverman, and Barbara Gray. Get your tickets here.