V for Vendetta (2005)

1st Time:  Haven’t seen it?  Go watch it and then keep reading.

Reminds you of Orwell’s 1984 right?

2nd Time:  Saw it once?  Go read about the Bush administration in the US and Blair administration in the UK

You’re not saying they ran a black flag?  No, at worst they left the barn door open, but they certainly took the ball and ran all the same.

3rd Time:  Haven’t heard of 4chan, Anonymous, Project Chanology, Sabu and LulzSec?  Hit up Wikipedia and then start the movie again.

Yeah!  Fuck the system!

4th Time:  I’m going to ruin it for you.  By now you like the movie but have gone through most of the discussion boards and news articles and feel like there’s a lot of ground already well covered.  You’ve probably even done some background work with Alan Moore’s original inspirations and motivations.  That’s great.  Here’s your new way to watch this movie.  Welcome to an alternative origin story of the Joker and Harley set in post-Watchmen Britain.

You asshole…

Okay, the movie by itself generates a lot of questions and points (just like Watchmen) that need to be thought out.  I’m not trying to negate that, just trying to make a point and potentially not beat a dead horse with a more mainstream review of this movie.

Change the names and the setting and tell me the movie doesn’t work as Harley Quinn and the Joker?

J saves Harley from rapey government thugs.
He’s a crazy man given to ominous and dramatic monologues.
He pulls off a very stylish demolition of a public building and monument right at the beginning of the movie and promises more in a year’s time.
He’s an enemy of the establishment, government and order.
He’s labeled a terrorist.
He’s fond of masks and disguises.
He wears a suicide bomb best to take over a tv station.
Once there, he puts out a charming and slightly scary tv message that immediately captures public interest.
He points an accusing finger at public acquiescence of who they allow to lead them and where.
He kills some cops in a knife fight escaping the scene of the crime and then kidnaps Harley again, to “save” her.
She finds his house full of stolen art and artifacts then is told she can’t leave.
He has a face to face confrontation with a media personality which ends with them dead in a puddle of poison vomit.
He’s pursued by police and a tenacious “detective” (Jim Gordon and Batman get lumped together here).
Part of his backstory is when he was locked in a detention center (prison) and escaped by blowing it up
He kills a gross priest by using “Evey” in a classic Harley Quinn look for bait and then we find out the priest was a bad guy.
He kills a doctor/coroner who turns out to have been an evil scientist
The same scientist who experimented on him and other inmates in prison
He kidnaps the girl again and tricks/tortures/imprisons/mock recreates his own prison experiences for her to release her from fear
He basically remakes her in his own image
When he takes off the mask, I can’t tell if he’s laughing or crying
He sends masks to an entire city, incites chaos and destruction
The search for him by the “detective” has led to many other villains and revelations of a much larger conspiracy
He provokes the murder of the head of state by its own members and then brutally murders the police officers sent to arrest him
He never claims to be different or better than his enemies, he never claims to be a hero
Even in death, Harley (Evey) carries out his will to activate the bombs and the city rises in his place
The happy ending of the movie?  Parliament is destroyed along with the nation’s political leadership

This could be the final part of the Arkham trilogy with a little rewriting.

I will say that the concept is always very, very popular in movies and books.  The lone hero fighting the injustices of oppressive empire through guerrilla warfare and insurrection is a common fiction staple and yet the enemy in our modern real world.  Terrorist as hero in a totalitarian state?  Only if the majority agree, only if the message is popular and charismatic, only if the targets are the rulers and not the ruled.

If Edmond Dantes is significant to V, then Evey’s observation of the role of Mercedes makes a fitting epilogue to their relationship in the movie especially in parallel to Harley and Mr. J:

“It made me feel sorry for Mercedes.  Because he cared more about revenge than he did about her.”