The 'hero' who'd had enough: how subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz inspired Joker

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker, left, and vigilante killer Bernhard Goetz 
Joaquin Phoenix as Joker, left, and vigilante  Bernhard Goetz 

Half an hour into Todd Phillips’s Joker, Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck, a downtrodden, unstable part-time clown in 1980s New York, fatally shoots three aggressors on a subway train. Fleck, who has already been pummelled on the streets by various gangs, finally snaps at the group of drunken Wall Street traders, who, having leered and swaggered through the carriage, punch him to the floor. 

The beatdown is tough to watch – as is Fleck’s instinctive uprising. He shoots them all in cold blood. His anger is justified; the murder, not so much. And for those who remember what happened in Manhattan around Christmas, 1984 - when director Phillips, a New York native, was 13 years old - the sequence will...

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