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Why Latinos Should Watch the New Joker Movie

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The major motion picture, Joker, premiered at the 76th Venice International Film Festival in August, and its producers plan to release the film in the United States this October. It stars Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the classic Batman villain, and it is written and directed by Todd Phillips.

HOWEVER, from Taco Bell to Chipotle, and from Los Angeles to San Antonio, the Joker, like so many American icons, was ORIGINALLY LATINO!

That’s right, before anyone in this country ever sat down with a bucket of popcorn to enjoy Batman movies with celebrities like Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson playing the Joker, in the original, Batman: The Movie, our favorite arch nemesis of Batman’s was played by Cesar Romero. Mr. Romero went on to star as the Joker in 22 episodes of the Batman TV series between 1966-1968. For further context, I did the math, and Cesar had starred as the Joker 23 times before Heath Ledger, may he rest in peace, was ever even born. Ironically (or not), Heath Ledger wasn’t American either– he was from Australia. No one ever accused Jack Nicolson of not being American, as far as I am aware.

The Latin from Manhattan

Cesar Romero in Public Enemy’s Wife / Wikimedia Commons

In any case, Cesar Romero, the self-proclaimed, “Latin from Manhattan,” like so many great contributors to everything that is American, was born to immigrant parents. According to the Los Angeles Times, his parents were of Cuban decent, and his grandfather was Jose Marti, the Cuban folk hero whom Havana’s airport is named after. Cesar enjoyed a long and prolific career in Hollywood and was a pioneer in actors’ demanding a percentage of profits from Hollywood studios and production companies. With his good looks and signature mustache, he played likable villains, suave riffraff, and occasionally, leading men.

So please go see Joker this October— it is “bold, devastating and utterly beautiful,” according to Empire Online’s review, and by all means enjoy Joaquin Phoenix, who by the same account, gives an astonishing performance.

HOWEVER, and this is a big however, as you enjoy the movie, please remember to celebrate the Joker’s latin roots. They are, like so much that is good in this country, beholding to our rich heritage of latin influences and immigration.


Elizabeth Frank is a Freelance Writer at Revolution English. Elizabeth currently reports from Guatemala and writes about news in Latin America for immigrants in the U.S. Prior to Revolution English, Elizabeth taught English in Guatemala for three years.