The Joker, Fear, The Dark Knight, Joker, Pop-culture, Film


The Joker is one of the most frightening comic book characters ever created and has, as a result, been the subject of numerous adaptations to film and television. This article analyses the portrayals of the Joker by actors Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix in The Dark Knight (2008) and Joker (2019), respectively, and the differences in their representations of the Joker in relation to fear. It also explores how the two films serve as allegorical representations of public fears present at the time of the films’ creation, and how these fears are either embodied in or experienced by each films’ Joker. Fear elements utilized by each film’s Joker character are also analysed, i.e., acts of terrorism, use of make-up, and laughter. Moreover, the article’s treatment of the Joker reveals a character who is a victim both of public fears and of his own traumatic past—fearful experiences which come to shape the Joker’s violent persona. The article’s comparative analysis makes use of psychological and sociological explanations of fear and its characteristics.


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How to Cite

Arroyo Paniagua, J. J. “‘WHATEVER DOESN’T KILL YOU SIMPLY MAKES YOU STRANGER’: FEAR IN THE CHARACTER OF THE JOKER IN THE DARK KNIGHT AND JOKER”. Revista De Estudios Norteamericanos, vol. 26, Mar. 2022, doi:10.12795/REN.2022.i26.02.



Received 2021-05-17
Accepted 2022-03-08
Published 2022-03-22
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