It’s been almost 30 years since Jack Nicholson played the role of the Clown Prince of Crime in Batman – a film by Tim Burton. 10 years after the making of The Dark Knight (and brushing over a brief appearance in Suicide Squad), The Joker is set to hit the big screen again in what has been described as a solo feature, setting up his own new cinematic origin story. Director Todd Phillips fancies his chances on this one.
We have witnessed many superhero movies come and go, and we seem never to get tired of seeing new ones hit the big screen now and then, but the team behind the Joker movie have decided to take it a step further. They looked at the possibility of taking out one of the characters in a superhero movie and doing a standalone movie – more like a character study. This exploration into the solo ‘Anti-hero’ story can be seen in this year’s upcoming Venom movie from Sony.
Spoilers ahead for your first look at Joaquin Phoenix in full costume.
So, taking out the villains was something that appealed to them. What exactly is The Joker’s movie all about? Here’s what Joaquin Phoenix himself has to say about the movie:
“I wouldn’t quite classify this as like any genre. I wouldn’t call it a studio movie or a superhero movie or a … It feels unique.”
This isn’t going to be one of those movies that’s connected to a universe or intended to launch a franchise, so it feels a little deflated in today’s world of over-stuffed cinematic universes.
Call it a crime, thriller, drama kind of movie, and you won’t be wrong in any way. Taking a closer look at the source material, which happens to be Batman, this Joker movie might get people asking “what is the joker without Batman?” If Joaquin Phoenix absolutely kills it with his role just as we expect, a lot of people would want that character to go up against Batman in some way – so options are always being kept open.
Effectively, Joker is more like the origin of the joker as a legendary villain in the superhero movie. To put it in a simpler context, it’s like the Joker remembering a flashback. The Joker is one of the standalone villains in any superhero movie in the universe that can stand alone without his hero/adversary.
We’re in an interesting place at the moment, with studios telling audiences we don’t need our villains to go against their favorite heroes in order to carry their own story. It’s still quite unclear how and when The Joker character will emerge in the movie and I think that will be an interesting puzzle to figure out. Part of what made Heath Ledger’s outing as The Joker so compelling in 2008’s The Dark Knight is that we never found out how he got his scars. Just how much do audiences want to know about their adversaries?
When will Joker be released?
We’ve already seen an official announcement from Warner Bros about when the Joker movie will be set to hit the big screen, along with some other major announcements. The studio chose a predictable title, Joker, and the movie is set to launch in the US on October 4, 2019. Considering the darker nature of the film and the fact that many DC films are currently trying to shift their tone away from Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman dark setting, we will look forward to embracing some of the darker elements of the DCEU.
Although the team behind the film has been secretive about so many things concerning the movie and they seem to be unwilling to give too much information away, there is still a bit of information available. Producer Martin Scorsese’s and director Todd Phillips are expected to take the 80’s setting and the iconic villain will be portrayed as a failed stand-up comic who later took to crime after he bombed with audiences and disfigured his face in a robbery gone wrong.
The premise bears striking similarities with Brian Bolland and Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel The Killing Joke that portrays the villain as a struggling stand-up comedian who suddenly falls apart following a series unfortunate turn of events, choosing to drive Commissioner Gordon as crazy as he is. The official announcement by Warner Bros further describes the Joker origin story as “an exploration of a man disregarded by society.” He says it’s far from just being a gritty character study, and also describes it as a broader cautionary tale.
One name that instantly catches attention is multiple award winner, Joaquin Phoenix. But here’s the funny part: when he was close to being officially confirmed as a lead character in the movie, he kept saying that he wasn’t sure if he was officially linked to the Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie that was already on the lips of everyone.
Also, the actor usually gave vague responses when asked about the movie. The closest we’ve come to an official confirmation from Joaquin himself was when he said:
“It could turn out to be an interesting character, I don’t know. If it’s within your powers to transcend the genre, you would want to do it,”
Also confirmed to appear are heavyweight Robert De Nero and comedian Marc Maron, who play characters in the entertainment space. They will most likely be connected to The Joker’s previous life before turning to a life of crime.
The Other Jokers
The film is not to be confused with another upcoming Joker starring Suicide Squad‘s Jared Leto. First appearing in 2016, his version of the character is a modern-day mob boss who divided much of the audience during his outing. It is expected to be released under a different DC label than the first superhero films of the studio, such as Wonder Woman and Justice League, as well as the upcoming Aquaman and Shazam! films. Joker will exist in its own universe, having nothing in common with how Jared Leto portrayed the character in Suicide Squad.
The team behind the Joker movie is adopting a conservative approach regarding the production of the movie. For instance, while most superhero movies are backed by budgets that run into hundreds of millions of dollars, the budget for Joker is estimated to be ‘only’ $55 million. It is also expected to be available in the theaters by next year, which is a quick turnaround when compared to other superhero movies.
Several Hollywood veterans and heavyweights have been brought on board to work as members of the production crew. These include casting director Shayna Markowitz (Ocean’s 8), designer Mark Friedberg (Selma), and cinematographer Lawrence Sher (War Dogs). We have to keep abreast with happenings in the industry as more news and announcements about the movie unfold, but, for now, the signs are looking good.
Updated: Yesterday, director Todd Philips revealed a first look at his incarnation of The Joker in full costume, which you can see below.
What do you think about the full costume of the new Joker? Let us know in the comments.