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Face-Off: Tyler Durden vs. The Joker

03.15.2012by: Paul Huffman
In last weeks Face Off, the general opinion turned out to be that Steven Spielberg just about trumps James Cameron in the director category. This isn't exactly the hardest opinion to agree with, good on ya Steve.

This week we have chosen to focus on arguably (not much) two of the greatest characters ever imagined. Tyler Durden and Heath Ledger's Joker are two guys who laugh at the absurdity of life and the way we live it and have chosen to single someone out to attempt to wake them up. Who had the best methods? Who could you find yourself listening to if you thought about it? In just not caring, they made us care about them. But who do we care about more?

Appearance
Tyler Durden's wardrobe added to the evolution of his character and it did it beautifully. The people involved with the film were methodical in making Tyler's appearance better as the narrator's mental state became more skewed. Most of all I want to note that before Fight Club I would have never looked on a man rocking a pink robe as a bad ass, but damn if Tyler Durden didn't pull it off and maintain the sh*t out of his masculinity. The slight edge goes to Tyler in this category because of the more expanded wardrobe than that of his opponent. Kudos.
I don't know about anyone else but along with the initial fear of Heath Ledger portraying The Joker I was also worried about how his trademark wardrobe and face paint would appear on the screen. I felt the comic book Joker and Jack Nicholson's rendition made it difficult to portray in the world Chris Nolan created. The realistic suit mixed with the gothic, drab, sloppy applied make-up approach to the character blew me away. It's this film and this character in particular that got rid of any doubt I had in Nolan.
Craziness
Two scenes of Fight Club perfectly capture the craziness of Tyler Durden's character for me. One is the scene of his uncontrollable laughter while the owner of the 'Fight Club' building is beating him to a bloody pulp, ironically a bit of the interrogation scene in Dark Knight mirrors that. The second is the scene of the intense car wreck in which Tyler causes in an effort to get the narrator to give up control of the situation and just let go, I couldn't think of a better cinematic way to get that message across. Tyler went to extremes to get his buddy to let go of the material things that ran his life. As crazy as the bastard is maybe we could all use a Tyler Durden in our lives.
Joker stands his ground as the Dark Knight comes racing toward him, not a hint of fear in his eyes, and it true Joker fashion begs Batman to run him down. The look of utter disappointment on Joker's face when Batman didn't oblige speaks volumes about his character, why you no listen Bruce? A short time later Joker thinks that he's won when he is plummeting to his death from a tall ass building. But wait, Joker didn't break him...and this time Joker mumbles his irritation that after all this he failed. Joker is a psychopath who is perfectly ready to lay down his life, and in fact prefers to as the way to prove his point. Intense.
Personal Goal
Tyler had some f*cked up ways of trying to open the eyes of Edward Norton's character, but damn it that's all he was trying to do. His sole purpose became to get a whole army of men to abandon any hint of responsibility they had for their lives and just let go of all the...well...bulls*it that we all know doesn't really matter. In one of the best scenes of the movie Tyler let's us the audience know that we are indeed "not our fucking khakis." I then got rid of every pair of khakis I owned. Mission accomplished.
The Joker was all about chaos, he needed desperately to show Batman and the rest of Gotham how much hypocrisy he saw in the people that lived their lives by some "moral code." To him nobody was beyond seeing how pointless the way society conducted itself really was, and with one man he succeeded. If a creepy bastard came to you in clown makeup and nurses costume and started getting all philosophical would you take some time to listen to what he had to say? Well one all around decent guy did, and well, we know what happened. Persuasive bastard.
Quotes
-"The things you own, end up owning you."

-"We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives."

-"You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world."

-"Fuck damnation, man! Fuck redemption! We're God's unwanted children, SO BE IT!"

-"We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off."

-"Fuck off with your sofa units and strine green stripe patterns, I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let... lets evolve, let the chips fall where they may."

-"I believe that what doesn't kill you simply makes you...stranger."

-"This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren't you? You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won't kill you because you're just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever."

-"In their last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way, I know your friends better than you ever did. Would you like to know which of them were cowards?"

-"This city deserves a better class of criminal, and I'm gonna give it to em."

-" If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan".

-"Why so serious?!"

Performances
Tyler Durden marked one of Brad Pitt's best performances. He seemed to let it all go. There were moments when Brad Pitt was simply being Brad Pitt but then all bets were off and he showed us something else. You can tell how deep into the character Pitt was and I don't think many actors were going to be able to pull this character off the way he did. Job well done, you convinced me you were unhinged.
The choice to cast Heath Ledger was met with a lot of criticism, nobody thought he could pull it off and most of us thought Nolan had lost his mind. But then the teasers and trailers hit the web and we all shifted in our sheets a little bit. The rest is history, Ledger stole the whole show in his turn as The Joker. I've heard many wonder if Ledger's performance would have received so much praise had it not been for his untimely demise. I say yes, the quirks he brought to the character, the mannerisms, he just knocked the whole thing out of the park. For a long time I feel it will go unmatched.
IT'S A TIE!
Well, this is an outcome I can't say I didn't see coming on my end. It is hard for me to choose between these two, but that's what you our readers are for. So the tie breaker is up to you, folks. Both are iconic, but which character sticks out in your mind?

If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at paulhuffman@joblo.com with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

Which director is your favourite?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!
Tags: Face-Off

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