A Joker movie is coming from DC Comics and Warner Bros. and there is already a lot of interesting information coming out about the upcoming film. The director is an unexpected choice, with Todd Phillips taking over the reins after making movies like the Hangover films and Borat. What seems to be the most interesting news is that the film, which will star Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker, will reportedly be similar in feel to Martin Scorsese movies Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. That makes this possibly the most intriguing of the upcoming DC Comics movies coming over the next few years. However, with that news also comes doubt as to whether or not this movie will help turn people's opinions around on the current DCEU around.
Set for a theatrical release on Oct. 4, 2019, the new Joker movie is supposed to be an origin story and might be partially based on the origin tale from the seminal Joker graphic novel The Killing Joke. With Phoenix in line to play Joker, it is also a huge addition as he is known for prestige movies and has picked up three Oscar nominations over his career, which is four short of the nominations for Robert De Niro, who has also signed on to star in the movie. Along with all the information released by Warner Bros. is a ton of rumors that have also lent to some fun fan speculation about what could be happening in this upcoming DC Comics release.
Originally, Alec Baldwin was in talks to join the cast of Joker and was set to play none other than Thomas Wayne -- the father of Bruce Wayne. However, unlike the regular Thomas Wayne, who was a philanthropist who helped people, the Thomas Wayne in the movie is set to be a 1980s-styled businessman. Baldwin ended up passing on the role and instead Brett Cullen (The Dark Knight Rises) will take the role of the father of the Batman.
The role of Thomas Wayne is considered a "cheesy" businessman as well, similar to certain real estate tycoons from the '80s, and he sounds nothing like the character from the comics or any of the movies depicting the character. Also, if Wayne is in the Joker movie, that makes the Clown Prince of Crime much older than Batman.
One of the key sources that Jared Leto went to when creating his version of The Joker from Suicide Squad was The Killing Joke. Now, with a new Joker movie on the way, once again the filmmakers are rumored to have gone to that same Alan Moore story for the inspiration of this tale.
This is good and bad. While many people love The Killing Joke, there are others who dismiss it mostly for the story's depiction of Barbara Gordon and the dark, violent and disturbing content. Even Alan Moore is not happy with his story and said that he feels that it is too "physically violent" -- something that he says the world doesn't need today. However, it also fits in with the feel of the current DCEU.
The entire basis of The Killing Joke is not just to tell the origin of The Joker but also to mix in present-day action in the process of telling this story. The present-day action shows Joker trying to prove to the world that even the best man can be broken. The man that Joker targeted was Jim Gordon and he did the unimaginable to try to drive him insane.
Joker went to the home of Gordon's daughter Barbara and then shot her, paralyzing the woman. Joker then took photographs of her in compromising positions to try to drive Gordon to the brink of insanity. This took a very powerful female hero in Batgirl and destroyed her to create a plot device to challenge her father. Another big problem here, outside of the controversy, is that Batgirl could not even exist at this time.
While there are rumors that the Joker movie will be based on The Killing Joke, what is known is that the movie will be an origin story. While this isn't the first time that a Joker origin story will play out on the big screen, it is something that bothers many fans of the character from the comics.
While the present day action from The Killing Joke will not likely play out in the movie, the entire origin story looks like it might be the basis of this story. This is interesting since Moore himself stated when he wrote the comic that it was just one possible origin story for The Joker. In Batman, Tim Burton made Joker the man who took the life of Bruce Wayne's parents. In this movie, they are going with the failed comedian aspect told in Moore's story. But do fans really want to know who Joker was before he became the Clown Prince of Crime?
Robert De Niro is in the Joker movie, but that isn't something that brings as much excitement as it used to. The former Oscar-contending actor from movies like The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver and Raging Bull takes on very interesting projects these days that are as far from awards contenders as any could be. However, when it comes to this movie, it sounds like De Niro might be back in his old wheel-house.
With the movie compared to Taxi Driver and a man driven to the brink of insanity, De Niro will star as a talk show host that helps push Joker into his life of crime. There is no similar character in The Killing Joke unless they plan to make De Niro's character someone with dealings in the underworld as well.
No matter what critics say, there are still a lot of fans out there who like the direction that Zack Snyder has taken the DCEU. There are very vocal fans who consider Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice to be great movies. No matter what people see from those movies, the fact is that Zack Snyder has worked hard to create flawed, dark heroes in dark and grimy worlds.
Compare that to Wonder Woman, where Patty Jenkins was able to take the character and make her a beacon of hope in a world that was dark around her. It was what Man of Steel could have been. When it comes to a Joker movie, many fans believe that the Joker should not just be a flawed character -- he should be pure evil -- as such, this movie should be more Martin Scorsese and less Zack Snyder.
While the exact place in the DC Universe that the Joker movie will lie is unknown, what was revealed is that the Joker flick is separate from the mainstream DCEU. This means that Joaquin Phoenix's Joker is not the same as the Jared Leto Joker or the Heath Ledger version before that. This is an interesting change for Warner Bros.
The studio seems to want this DC Comics movie to attract a different audience and the critical and fan complaints about the recent movies seem to have them looking at distancing themselves from those films with the new Joker movie. If Warner Bros. sees success with this new comic book adaptation, they could maybe combine the two worlds after a Flashpoint-styled event, keeping what works (Wonder Woman, Aquaman) and dumping the rest.
Zazie Beetz was a huge breakout star in Deadpool 2 when she took on the role of Domino. The hero was a standout -- her laid-back cocky attitude a perfect antithesis to Ryan Reynold's Merc with a Mouth. However, after breaking out in that Marvel movie, she is now moving on to the DC movie world and will take on a very different role.
Beetz will portray a single mother who Joker takes notice of. Now, since this is an origin story and might be based on The Killing Joke, there is a chance that she could end up as the love interest. His path over the edge began when his pregnant wife passed away after a household accident. Could Beetz's character be a version of Jeannie and the catalyst for his decent to madness?
There was a lot of confusion when Warner Bros. announced that they were creating two different Joker movies -- the one with Joaquin Phoenix and the one with Jared Leto. However, the word then went out that Warner Bros. said that this Joker is not the same one that fans met in the Suicide Squad movie and is in its own universe completely separate from the other films.
Fans of DC Comics know all about separate universes, as there are two ways that this could play out. As fans of Flash know, there are alternate Earths and the heroes and villains in those universes are very different from one another. However, a more interesting aspect is just to have the new Joker movie take place in the Elseworlds universe, which is completely non-canon and allows the filmmakers to do whatever they want without caring about continuity.
So, what do we know about Joker so far in this new movie? Well, his name is Arthur and he is a failed comedian. With that information, it is clear that The Killing Joke is at least a partial influence on the movie. According to the official plot description, director Todd Phillips (The Hangover) is delivering a character study of a man "disregarded by society."
The movie also takes place in Gotham City in the '80s, when Thomas Wayne is still alive -- meaning that Arthur is much older than Bruce Wayne, the man who becomes his greatest enemy, the Batman. The movie will then show Arthur moving from his career as a comedian into a life of crime and insanity where be becomes Gotham's most dangerous predator.
With the fact that the Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie will take place in a different world than the Joker that Jared Leto played, that presents a lot of questions about Batman. In the DCEU, Batman has chased Joker before, and while he only caught Harley Quinn at the time, it opened up the idea of the two archenemies battling once again.
However, it looks like that may not happen in the DCEU because the latest rumors involve the upcoming Batman movie by Matt Reeves. The rumors indicate that Reeves' movie will be set in the world of this Joker and not in the world where Ben Affleck portrays Batman. If that is true, there is a new Batman coming and that will force in another reboot of the character.
There is a huge problem with making a Joker origin story. If Joker is the lead character in a movie, there will likely be a desire to make him a sympathetic character. To have fans watch the movie, they need to have someone to relate to and at least have a little sympathy for. An example is the movie Taxi Driver, which this movie is compared to.
In Taxi Driver, there was a character that fans could relate to in Travis Bickle. No one should have put themselves in Bickle's shoes but he was shown to be a former military man who was honorably discharged and suffers from a mental illness. The crimes that Bickle pulls off are done because there is an evil worse than him. In the world of DC Comics, there isn't anyone worse than the Joker and he deserves no sympathy. Doing so, some might argue, would ruin the character.
When Suicide Squad came out there was a distrust on how The Joker would end up portrayed from the start. Photos leaked of Jared Leto with tattoos, a big silver grill and a crazed look. When the movie came out, Leto seemed to be playing more of a character from a classic film noir like Scarface than the character he was portraying from DC Comics.
That turned a lot of fans off immediately, although there are still some who enjoyed Leto's performance as the Clown Prince of Crime. With that said, the Joker in this new movie will have nothing to do with Leto's character, and that allows Todd Phillips to do what he wants. The good news for some fans is that Leto's Joker will also be back in the DCEU as well, mainly in the upcoming Harley Quinn movie.
The one thing that many critics and fans have ripped the DCEU for is the dark and grimy attitude that had its genesis in the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy. When it came to Man of Steel, people felt that Superman was too moody. In Batman V Superman, fans complained that the entire battle between the heroes was also too morbid.
While Wonder Woman seemed to bring a new level of hope to the DCEU and Justice League added a level of fun that had been missing, the new Joker movie might be the darkest of them all. The comparison is to Martin Scorsese classics like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and those are as dark as coal. Will fans accept another dark and grimy DC Comics movie? Possibly, since the Joker is a character who finally lends himself to that approach!
Jared Leto is a Joker that is more gangster than anything. Heath Ledger is a Joker that was pure anarchy. Joaquin Phoenix is a Joker that is a failed comedian. Go way back and there is a Jack Nicholson Joker that was a murderer who was the man who took out Bruce Wayne's parents. That is four different Jokers.
In Justice League #42, Batman gained the power to discover anything and when he went to discover the true identity of The Joker, he only said that is is "not possible." Then, DC Comics revealed that there are three Jokers. Instead of an Elseworlds story, what if there is more than one Joker? At least by presenting various versions of Joker, it opens things up if Flashpoint does combine worlds to create a definitive version.