Whether or not you're up for a Joker solo film, let alone an origin story, you have to admit the notion of a character study on the Clown Prince of Crime is an intriguing one, to say the least. Director Todd Phillips has long championed the idea of giving Joker his due in the limelight and he's steadfastly pushing forward with it.
While we're still waiting to hear who takes on the role -- Joaquin Phoenix has been repeatedly linked to it, but has not been confirmed -- production is gearing up as Warner Bros. is moving forward with the non-DC Extended Universe take on the character.
As new details emerge, they paint a picture indicating Phillips may well be moving the Joker out from the shadow of the Batman, focusing not just on the birth of the criminal, but on a tale based on sympathy and oddly enough, relatability.
For some time, The Killing Joke was mentioned as the reference point the director will be using. The graphic novel, which debuted in 1988 from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, is famous for Joker paralyzing Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), but it's more interested in delving deep into the psyche of a failed comedian who turns to a life of crime due to poverty. In the book, the comedian loses his pregnant wife in an accident, then, at all-time low, he desperately attempts to rob the Ace Chemical Factory. He's ultimately stopped by Batman, only to fall into a chemical vat and become the Joker.
A new round of purported casting details seem to support the belief that Killing Joke is the film's starting point, emphasizing the importance of the man behind the smile, along with his family and acquaintances. Character descriptions reference Penny, an old woman who's bed-ridden, and whose son moves back home to be with her. Her descriptions says she's obsessed with her former employer, who might be responsible for her plight. It seems Phillips is using her instead of the comedian's wife as the catalyst to break the criminal-in-the-making. A failed comedian living under duress with his mom might even have a bit of Psycho to it, thus sowing seeds for why he eventually goes crazy.
Penny's former employer is also most likely to be Ace Chemical. Given the business the company is in, it'd make sense for Penny to fall ill from working there, whether it be from carcinogens or other toxic materials, and basically get cast aside with little to zero compensation. This would provide all the more reason for her grudge to transfer to her son when she dies, thus leading him to attempts to exact revenge, which in turn would lead to his accident.