Fans of DC Comics and perhaps their most famous villain may want to steer clear Todd Phillips‘ ‘Joker’. Despite taking cues from the comic book character, as well as his multiple live-action adaptations, this is not any Joker that has ever been seen in any medium.
Phillips recently told Empire:
“We didn’t follow anything from the comic books, which people are gonna be mad about. We just wrote our own version of where a guy like Joker might come from. That’s what was interesting to me. We’re not even doing Joker, but the story of becoming Joker. It’s about this man.”
And that man is portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, whom Phillips says he had always hoped would star in this film.
“I think he’s the greatest actor. We had a photo of him above our computer while we were writing. We constantly thought, ‘God, imagine if Joaquin actually does this.’”
This follows a response on Twitter last month when a DC fan attempted to school him on the backstory of the Joker which Phillips seemed to be ignoring. Phillips simply told the fan “yeah. You may wanna skip this one” with a “crying from laughing” emoji.
Phoenix’s performance has already sparked talk of an Academy Award nomination. Below you can find a new photo of Phoenix in the role.
Phoenix’s character is Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian who spirals into a world of crime. Despite this story not being a direct adaptation, there are other elements taken from the comics, including the characters Thomas Wayne (played by Brett Cullen), Bruce Wayne (Dante Pereira-Olson), and Alfred Pennyworth (Douglas Hodge). Rumor has it, Arthur’s mother, Penny (Frances Conroy) worked for Thomas Wayne for many years and falsely believes that he is the father of her son, Arthur.
So from the sound of things, ‘Joker’ is Joker-in-name-only. It’s not clear why this picture is being made this way — why base it on a property and then ignore the source material completely? Why not just call the film something else? Perhaps that will become clear in a few months, when ‘Joker’ opens on October 4th.
In closing, check out Phoenix on the cover of Empire below:
Living in Gotham in 1981, Arthur Fleck struggles with his mental health while taking care of his mom (also mentally unstable), a woman who was a housekeeper for the Wayne Family for 12 years and cannot get a response from Thomas Wayne, who she has been trying to get in touch with for some time. Arthur has a social worker that he sees regularly, tends to bursts into weird laughing fits when nervous, and is living in a Gotham that is dirty from a garbage strike and an inordinate amount of crime, desperately in need of cleaning up. Hence why Thomas Wayne has decided to run for Mayor, which not everyone is happy with. After losing his job, Arthur loses it and ends up killing three business-men types on the subway after he sees them harassing a woman and sparks a “resist” movement of the poor against the wealthy, with Wayne as a symbol for the rich. After a disastrous try at stand-up comedy, Fleck catches the attention of the host of a show called ‘Live With Murray Franklin,’ who later invites him on the show. Before that show, Fleck discovers a letter his mom has written to Wayne claiming Arthur is Wayne’s son (making him a half-brother to Bruce Wayne). Eventually Arthur finds out it was a lie, and that his mom allowed him to be sexually abused as a child, so he heads to Arkham Asylum and kills her before fully embracing the Joker persona, going on Murray Franklin’s show, shooting the host, and making a speech which incites a full-on riot in the city, which leads to the Crime Alley shooting of Thomas and Martha Wayne in front of young Bruce Wayne. The film ends with the police chasing and then catching the Joker after he is hit by a taxi, and he is then locked up in Arkham Asylum, where we last see him dancing around his cell, fully insane.