With the release of “Suicide Squad” in theaters and its Joker making movie headlines, now is the perfect time to look at a few shorts and fan films starring or about The Joker; or “Mr. J,” if you’re nasty.
Injustice for All (USA) (2016)
Lex Luthor visits Harleen Quinzel who is kept in solitary at Arkham Asylum to find out as much as he can about her beloved Mr. J. Through her storytelling and expanded scenes of The Joker’s activities, we see a bit of his past and his visits with other DC characters including Catwoman. This short film written by Donavan Darius and Joseph Bryce Hart and directed by Danny Mooney is a look at The Joker taken from a different angle compared to most of his feature film appearances.
Here The Joker is the star, we see him being a despicable human. He is also given a background story that connects his crimes and insanity to a bad childhood. This could easily have been very cliché but here it works as he is built up through the eyes and words of Harleen Quinzel who has gone a bit off the deep end herself. The part of Harleen Quinzel is played by Erika Hoveland who disappears in her role, playing the crazed lover quite well.
As her Joker, the main subject is Chris Newman who comes off rather despicable against the film’s attempt to give him character a reason to be this way. His performance pulls in the viewer and doesn’t let go. Also, shining are Donavan Darius and Jamie Bernadette as Lex Luthor and Catwoman. They take these established characters, making them theirs while keeping their spirits alive.
The effects in this short are both practical and CGI look good. The cinematography by Chirs Miller, Danny Mooney, and Stewart Smith with the film editing by Glenn Garland make the film look more expensive than its independent budget.
Injustice for All feels like a first film in a series, ending with a beautiful shot following a good amount of violence. It shows the abusive and co-dependent relationship between The Joker and Harley without glamorizing it. It’s an interesting take on familiar character that would be entertaining to watch unfold some more.
Here a few other Joker themed fan films and shorts from around the web:
The Laughing Man (USA) (2016)
In this short written by Brian DeLeeuw and Diego Hallivis who also directed, The Joker and Harley are not named that but simply The Laughing Man and Quinn. The Laughing Man wakes up in the morgue then wreaks havoc on the hospital and one doctor in particular. As he tortures the doctor, flashbacks of his past and childhood shed light on the character. This one is well acted, well shot, with some really good blood. The sound design is effective and makes the skin scrawl in a few spots. The background scenes have some nicely done stop-motion animation which is a very nice touch, giving this short an edge and adding to the reasons to watch it.
Tell Gordon Hello – The Joker fan film (USA) (2010)
Written by Bryan Wolfson and Morgan Rodner who also directed, this short pits a tied up man against The Joker as seen in The Dark Knight. This is clearly a love letter to Heath Ledger’s interpretation of the character as lead actor Paul Louis Harrell dons an identical costume and picks-up Ledger’s mannerisms and way of speech. Here The Joker torments a poor man tied to a chair and bloodied. It’s an interesting take on the Christopher Nolan/Heath Ledger version but the character feels a bit off in his choice of actions. Thankfully, the acting makes up for it and the film looks great while being entertaining.
Patient J (USA) (2005)
Patient J is written by David Hammond, Sean Schoenke, and director Aaron Schoenke. It follows a psychologist as he interviews The Joker in the basement of Arkham Asylum in an unsanctioned interview. This one is very talky with a lot of flashbacks. It’s once again all about The Joker’s background. Paul Matthew Molnar does great as the title character while Kurt Carley comes off a bit wooden as the psychologist. This is not the most entertaining take on the character and meanders a bit too much. It almost feels more like a Quentin Tarantino homage than a Joker fan film.
Batman: The Bloody Valentine (USA) (2015)
This one is technically a Batman short but it involves The Joker and is a really fun music video. It’s a cover/adaptation of When I Fall in Love done by writers George and Harry Kirby and directed by the Kirbys and Nathan Stickley. The performances are good and it looks like an actual music video. The effects are not perfect but the music video aspect makes the viewer forget it quickly and have fun with it.
A quick search on YouTube yields a ton of Joker, Harley Quinn, and Batman related short films, fan films, and tributes. Not all available are good, but many are worth the time to check out. The above titles are only a sampling of the enormous selection online.