Later this year, the curious Joaquin Phoenix-starring Joker movie – which promises to be a low-budget character study as opposed to be a big comic book blockbuster – will be released into theaters. We’ve been kept in the dark about a lot of the details of the movie.
It seems as though the plot of the movie will follow Alan Moore’s seminal comic The Killing Joke, while director Todd Phillips’ stylistic pointers are Martin Scorsese’s classic films The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver. Anyway, based on the information we have about the movie, these are 10 Things That Need To Happen In Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker Movie.
10 The Joker holds a talk show host hostage
In The King of Comedy, Robert De Niro’s mentally unstable failing comedian character takes Jerry Lewis’ talk show host character to get some time to do his act on the air. It’s been announced that the Joker will be a failing comedian in this upcoming movie and De Niro will be playing a talk show host.
So, there needs to be a scene in which De Niro fills the Jerry Lewis role, the Joker fills the De Niro role, and a thrilling climax and a cinematic homage are rolled into one. The Joker will get his big moment in the spotlight, he’ll complete his transition to violent psychopath, and the world will know to fear him.
9 The first application of the clown makeup
In the last couple of movie versions of the Joker, we haven't seen how they got that look – they were just like that already. But this is an origin story, so we'll need to see how it happens. The new movie seems to be too grounded to have Arthur Fleck fall into a vat of chemicals and have his skin bleached like in the comics, but that doesn't mean there can't be a disturbing transformation scene.
One of the scariest scenes in Tim Burton's original Batman was when Jack Nicholson is shown his new look, smashes the mirror, and starts laughing. In the new movie, he could apply the makeup while staring at himself in the mirror and then start laughing maniacally (a sort-of version of this is actually in the trailer). It would tie into the reference point of Taxi Driver and also totally unnerve us. It wouldn't be an origin story without the origins of the clown makeup.
8 The Joker kills his mother
Frances Conroy has been cast as Penny Fleck, the Joker's mother. Now, in The King of Comedy, which is a huge influence on this new movie, Robert De Niro's lead character lives with his mother and spends his days in the basement, talking to himself (and occasionally a cardboard cutout of Liza Minnelli) as he lives out his fantasy of being a world-famous comedian.
His mother is constantly yelling at him, driving him mad. Conroy, who is used to playing creepy characters in American Horror Story and previously played an overbearing mother in Six Feet Under, will likely take on this role in Joker. And the Clown Prince of Crime won't be established as truly insane until he murders his mother.
7 An awkward first date with Zazie Beetz’s character
Zazie Beetz, who got her big break last year when she played Domino in Deadpool 2, has been cast to play the Joker’s love interest Sophie in the movie. In Taxi Driver, one of the films that inspired Joker, Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle falls for a woman played by Cybill Shepherd. At first, she indulges Travis and agrees to go on a date with him.
But when he takes her to a porno theater and pushes for a second date, she quickly loses interest. That should’ve been the end of it. However, since Travis is dangerously unstable, he continues to follow her and bother her at work. Maybe that sort of thing will all be part of Arthur Fleck’s mental downfall in Joker.
6 His introduction to Harley Quinn
It’s unclear how Joker will end – because it’s unclear what will happen during a lot of its runtime, frankly – but one possible ending is the title character getting locked up in Arkham Asylum. This would work as a conclusion to the standalone piece and also a setup for any potential sequels (one of Joaquin Phoenix’s conditions when signing on to star in the film was that he wouldn’t have to commit to a bunch of sequels – but he still has the option).
If he does end up in Arkham Asylum – which is teased in the trailer when he visits Arkham State Hospital – he should be introduced to Dr. Harleen Quinzel, even if she doesn’t become Harley Quinn yet. The Harley Quinn meeting has been teased by the revelation that Joaquin Phoenix has filmed a cameo with Margot Robbie for Birds of Prey.
5 A Commissioner Gordon cameo
Given that the new Joker movie is about the rise of a dangerous crime lord on the streets of Gotham, Gotham's finest will be heavily involved in the story. Bill Camp and Shea Whigham have been cast as GCPD officers, likely the ones leading the Joker case.
However,it hasn't been announced if J.K. Simmons' DCEU Commissioner Gordon will appear, so he probably won't have a big part in the story. But just to subtly tie it into the universe, we need to have a Commissioner Gordon cameo down at the station or at one of Thomas Wayne's campaign events.
4 The Joker kills Thomas Wayne
It has been announced that, unlike in the comics, Bruce Wayne's father will play a large role in the Joker's origin story in the new movie. As usual, he'll be portrayed as a rich, philanthropic business tycoon. However, in this incarnation, he's also running for Mayor of Gotham. Maybe the Joker will take Wayne as part of a diabolical plan to bring the city that rejected him to its knees.
It could be a political assassination (a subplot tied into one of Todd Phillips' reference points, Taxi Driver). Whatever it is, Thomas Wayne needs to die during his son’s childhood for his son to become Batman, so it’ll probably happen in this movie – and should.
3 Bruce Wayne begins his journey towards donning the Batman cowl
Thomas Wayne’s heavy involvement in the plot seems to suggest that the Joker will be the one who kills him, orphaning Bruce. Bruce has even been cast in the movie, furthering this theory. The fact that there will be a young Bruce Wayne in this movie seems to suggest that the Joker will kill his parents (or at least his father) and set him off on the journey to becoming the Dark Knight.
The Joker having killed Bruce Wayne's parents was the crux of Tim Burton's Batman movie that tied the whole thing together and kicked Batman's hatred of the Joker into top gear. In this context, revenge against the Joker would drive Bruce to become Batman in the first place.
2 Martha Wayne meets the Joker
In one of the timeline changes in the DC Comics universe, the fateful mugging that marked Bruce Wayne’s childhood ended with him getting killed instead of his parents. So, they survived long enough for Bruce’s father to become Batman and his mother Martha to become the Joker.
While we don’t expect Martha to join forces with the Joker, it would be interesting to see their minds clash. When she lost her son, she went crazy enough that she became the Joker. Maybe when she loses her husband, she’ll go crazy enough to regularly visit the culprit in Arkham Asylum, or prison.
1 The Joker does a crazy standup act
In the recently released trailer, we see Arthur Fleck performing at comedy clubs and getting few laughs. We see his mental downfall begin as he writes, “The worst thing about having a mental illness is, people expect you to behave as if you don’t,” at the bottom of a page of jokes in his legal pad.
It would be great to see him return to the stage for one final standup act before becoming the Clown Prince of Crime, after he realizes he’ll be more successful as a psychopathic criminal mastermind. It would be a great way to squeeze in a monologue, and he can really unload on the audience like Tony Clifton.