Views from the Sofa’s Greatest Scenes is a list of the greatest moments in the movies. This could be long introductions, moments of action or great dialogue between characters. The scenes are in no particular order and come from many different types of movies.
There are many ways to reveal your villain in a superhero movie. Most films choose to have a grand moment, where the hero is down and the villain finally shows their true form or true power. Tim Burton didn’t do that with his version of The Joker. In fact, for the scene where the “transformation” of Jack Nicholson’s gangster occurs, you don’t actually see his face at all… and there is something all the more scary because of it.
Greatest Scene Number 44: Batman – “Mirror… Mirror!”
Where Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight chose to keep Heath Ledger’s Joker and his origin somewhat of a mystery, Burton went with the traditional vat of chemicals and acid disfiguration. That wasn’t all though and Burton chooses to show how Nicholson’s Joker has gone to some back-street surgeon to get his face “reconstructed.”
You can already tell the procedure isn’t going to have gone to plan when you see the dingy room that the surgeon operates from. Even worse is the tools, which at one point are revealed in all their sharp and bloodied glory. Nothing gets much scarier than the man in the chair though.
The performance Nicholson puts in here is incredible, particularly as you can’t see his face through the whole scene. The furious way he rips at his own bandages with a hand that is also heavily and messily bandaged itself. The bandage tearing soon ending to reveal the shocked look on the surgeon’s face. The audience desperately wants to see the results but it is The Joker himself who shouts for the mirror.
The most effective moment of the scene is when you realise that this is where The Joker is born. The chemicals scarred him and the surgeon did irreparable damage but it is the realisation of what he looks like that elicits that famous laugh for the first time. Getting The Joker laugh right is difficult but Nicholson nails it and manages to make the scene even creepier as you realise The Batman’s most iconic villain has finally arrived… and you haven’t even seen his face yet.
Overall, a great introduction for an iconic villain. It isn’t about the look, the suit or even the make-up but instead it is down to the laugh and Nicholson’s is perfect. The scene is creepy to start but the final moments make it down-right scary.