Review: The Joker (The Dark Knight)
There's a lot to like about The Dark Knight. I'm not going to sing the film's praises right now: if you want to remind yourself why it was excellent, there's no shortage of sites or reviews glorifying the film. And that's how it should be. The movie was incredible. But, in the opinion of this long time Batman fan, it wasn't perfect. There was one glaring problem which carried over from Batman Begins and grew in the sequel: the design was something less than inspired. Oh, there were exceptions. Two-Face, in particular, looked perfect. But overall, I was underwhelmed with the Batsuit, the Batmobile, and the basement which passed for a Bat-Cave.
I've said all of this before, and I don't need to belabor the point here. It's an amazing movie, and it will no doubt be remembered for years to come. Even though I wasn't impressed with the overall look of the film, I wanted something in my collection to remember it. So, when the figures reappeared in toy stores after months of absence, I grabbed a Joker while I could. When Two-Face is released, I might pick up one, as well: like I said, he looked excellent in the film. I'm less interested in Batman himself, unless I find one without the mask (and those are rare, indeed).
These are produced by Mattel, which has been producing some incredible DC figures for a few years now.
I struggled with this one. In some ways, the figure is actually quite nice: it looks good on the shelf. I want to specifically applaud the paint mimicking The Joker's white makeup: the effect is excellent here. Likewise, I like the clothes, as well. But the score is dragged down by two factors on opposite ends of the spectrum. First, the sculpt doesn't look all that much like Ledger. The odd thing is, it doesn't really hurt the figure. Not only does it look like The Joker, it's still clear from the color scheme that this is the "Dark Knight" Joker. And it isn't an ugly sculpt: it actually looks really good. Just not like Ledger.
The other problem is in the paint application. There are a couple of lipstick "smears" on the face. The more notable of which is covering the right side of the figure's mouth. There's also another in the center, though this is quite a bit less obtrusive. I honestly can't tell if this intentional or not: The Joker's lipstick wasn't exactly neat most of the time. But... it really hurts the look of the figure.
It's harsh, but due to these issues, I'm giving The Joker a score of six out of ten. I'd add that this reflects my best efforts at objectivity: I actually like the figure more than this.
Packaging and Extras: --
In addition, you get a replica. Sort of. Actually, you get a playing card and a small plastic bag to put it in. Of course, being the geek I am, I popped Batman Begins into the DVD player and skipped to the scene at the end where we get a close up of the same card. It's close. The pattern on the back is actually a bit more elaborate in the movie. Not a lot, mind you, but a bit. Still, it matches pretty well. You've got to respect them for managing to include a descent replica for the cost of a single playing card. The "evidence bag," on the other hand, isn't even close. It's a tiny plastic bag they ship folded up, so when you unfold it, it's still creased. There's a red label on top that looks cheesy.
I suspect a lot of people are going to throw these out with the packaging, and I can certainly appreciate that. But personally, I kind of like receiving replicas - even cheaply made ones - which is precisely why it bugs me they didn't do a better job. The card is close enough, but the bag? Come on, it's a plastic bag: they couldn't afford to give us a bigger one and roll it up? On some level, I'm glad to get anything. They could have just shipped the figure and called it a day. On the other hand... think of what they could have added. We get one knife: why not four? Why didn't they package a gun or - even better - the firing mechanism he had at the end of the movie? For that matter, why is the "clown mask" a variant rather than an accessory? There's a lot they could have done better, but I just can't bring myself to penalize the score. They gave us SOMETHING, and I like the idea behind the card in an evidence bag, even if the execution left me disappointed.
Play and Display: +1
The Joker's articulation is limited by his sculpted coat, but there's more than enough to give you some decent motion and some options for posing. The knife, while kind of pathetic on its own, actually looks pretty good in The Joker's hand. What's more - and I really can't stress the importance of this enough - The Joker stands on his own. He can hold a relaxed, natural pose without a base and without toppling over every time someone walks across the room. Further, the calling card he comes with gives you a few opportunities for display. Sure, you'll probably want to set the "evidence bag" aside, but the card is a good likeness. Set it beside him, tack it to your wall (sure, it won't be mint, but come on... it's a card), or lay it at his feet. It's simple, it's cheap, but it was a cool addition. For giving us some choices, and because the figure does look nice on the shelf, I'm increasing the score by one.
Price Tag and Final Analysis: 7/10
The Joker will set you back about 12 bucks if you're lucky; more if you're not. As to the big question: I'd say he's probably worth the money. The cost for a basic, six inch figure is getting a bit ridiculous, but, considering they're made from fossil fuel, that shouldn't come as a shock. This is very much a memento piece, though, almost a souvenir for summer of 2008. If that doesn't interest you, there are better toys you can get for the same money. But it's a nice figure to have, all things considered. He's not the best Joker figure out there (certainly not the best I have), but a worthy addition to most collections.
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