With the first Cruella trailer, it’s clear that the future villain isn’t Disney’s Harley Quinn, as some suggest; she’s closer to the Joker of 2019.
After the launch of the first Cruella trailer, many fans have compared her rebellious attitude to the Harley quinn film, Birds of prey. They see Emma Stone’s portrayal of Cruella de Vil as somewhat similar to Margot Robbie’s Harley – breaking free from the shackles, expectations, and oppression of women in society to create someone who enjoys chaos and freedom.
However, upon closer inspection, Cruella might not be Harley at all. Instead, it could be Disney’s version of the Joker.
When you compare the first Todd Phillips trailer jester to Cruella, you can see why it is a suitable link. The look and feel are almost the same. First of all, they both have a dark, vintage aesthetic. Cruella takes place in the 70s and jester early 80s. Aside from the moody cinematography, even the way the trailers are cut feels similar. jester Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck, in voiceover, spoke about how society mistreats people. Stone’s Cruella does the same, mentioning that it’s good to be bad sometimes, especially after the powers that be don’t fully appreciate brilliance.
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At this point, the essences of both properties already stand out: it is anti-system. Cruella is dealing with Emma Thompson’s baroness Von Hellmann, the head of a prestigious fashion house who hires her (Estella) and who will clearly break her up and turn her into Cruella. We even see her arrive at a gala and show her new look, enjoying how she scares people as she goes from a redhead to her signature black and white hairstyle.
It’s reminiscent of Arthur morphing into the Joker, bitter about how his comedy ruined him, and wanting to appear predatory talk show hosts like Murray Franklin. Clearly, these two budding villains are burning for their careers and seeking revenge, as well as popularity and validation. In Joker’s case, he also had his sights set on wealthy Thomas Wayne, painting him as a rebel who wishes to dismantle society, starting with the elites at the top. Cruella could easily be characterized in a similar way considering the industry she is in.
Additionally, we also spotted future Cruella objects of hatred, the Dalmatians, reminiscent of Arthur playing with young Bruce Wayne in jester. All of this creates tension and suspense. We can say that all is not well with these two individuals: they are both unstable, and as their stories unfold, the only result is that all hell breaks loose.
What is also evident is Cruella wants to humanize us and sympathize with the villain, perhaps even making her more anti-hero, a symbol that reflects the vanity and ego of the world she is in. Arthur / Joker was the same thing: a forgotten son who reminded us of how the poor have been treated by narcissists. In that sense, both films deliver (or have the ability to deliver) identifiable stories that reflect the worst aspects of modern life.
Musical choices are also key to this parallel. As all these scenes unfold, and we glimpse their travels, the Cruella the trailer is overlaid with “Who’s Sorry Now”, while jesteruse “Smile”. Clearly, these movies want us to remember that someone is always on the edge. All it takes is a bad day for them to catch up. Fundamentally, that’s what separates Cruella of Harley Quinn and makes her more of a Joker for all ages – not anyone’s prop, crutch, or slave in its history of origin; she is a leader who makes the decisions and likes the Clown Prince of Crime. And anarchy seems to be the only way he believes that the course of the world can be corrected.
Directed by Craig Gillespie, Cruella stars Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Paul Walter Hauser, Joel Fry, and Emily Beecham. It is scheduled to hit theaters on May 28.
Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, Josh Pais, and Shea Whigham. The movie is now available on Digital HD, Blu-ray, 4K UHD, DVD, and HBO Max.
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