There has been so much discussion and hype for the new Todd Philips film set within the DC Universe, but not within the DCEU. The new film, Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix as the leading role of one of the most famous villains in the world, straight out of Gotham City and the world of Batman.
This film has already caused much debate amongst fans about whether this movie is going to be as good as the hype around it. Some fans think that it’s going to be an incredible film (myself included), whilst there are those that believe this film is both unecessary, and unfitting of the character. However in this post, I’m hoping to at least shed some light on what I think this film is, and is going to be, as well as what it means for the future of comic book movies. So let’s get started.
Let’s start this discussion with a high note, and I’ll try to end it on a high note as well. So to begin, let’s talk about the leading man, Joaquin Phoenix.
Joaquin Phoenix is a phenomanal actor, known for his roles in award winning films such Gladiator, Her, & Walk The Line. He has always excelled in his roles and stood out amongst the cast of the films he’s starred in, because he takes every one of his roles seriously and doesn’t just play the characters he’s cast as, he delves deep into their very being and becomes those characters. As a method actor, he is experienced in bringing his roles to life with whole new levels, and this film is proving to be a whole new level indeed.
News spread from behind the scenes that Joaquin was hesitant about accepting the role because of the character being such a huge deal in the world for fans, and because he wasn’t interested in a comic book movie. However, after Todd Philips pitched the film to him as a character study of what a man like Joker would come from in the real world rather than being in a world of your usual comic book movies.
One thing people need to remember about this film, is that it is not your every day comic book movie. It’s a low budget, character study about the real world, with the characteristics of Joker added in. It’s an origin story, yes, but it’s not an introduction film to a wider universe. As far as we are aware, it’s a single film, bringing the characters from the pages to the real world, in a somewhat similar way to Nolan and Ledger’s Joker but, this time, we are forgetting all about the Batman, forgetting all about heroes, and delving deep into a world of insanity and chaos.
From the latest trailer, which dropped today on Wednesday 28th August 2019, we seem to be getting a film that not only brings the Joker to us, but it brings us to the Joker. It appears that we will see Arthur Fleck fall further and further into insanity, so that we get to watch this character evolve as his world begins to fall, and as his eyes begin to open up to a world where he will once again be happy, amongst the chaos and anarchy that he introduces to Gotham City.
A major issue for fans of the character, seems to be what has been said many times over the years, which is “Joker doesn’t need an origin story”. The fans that are saying this are absolutely correct, because the Joker doesn’t need an origin. One of the greatest things about this character is that he is a complete mystery. He’s even too insane to remember his own origin, and has stated in ‘The Killing Joke’ that if he was going to have an origin, he’d prefer it to be multiple choice. This makes him unpredictable and fascinating, because our heroes then have nothing to use against him as they do their other villains. There’s no real mental weakness for the Joker’s character, and although one of the most famous Joker stories ever written was an origin story, it has long been argued that it isn’t canon and therefore is redundant as an argument against the Jokers true origin.
Alan Moore’s ‘The Killing Joke’ has been adapted into an animated movie, and fans adore it as a story, but the point remains that Joker doesn’t need an origin. However, what the new Joker film, by Todd Philips offers is more than just a regular origin story. As stated above, the film was pitched as a character study. So forget about origins, forget about comic book references, this film, whilst it is indeed an origin story of sorts, isn’t actually about the origin. The focus of the film is ‘What a man like the Joker would be like in the real world’. Don’t go into this movie and expect to sit down for your regular cliché comic book movie. This film aims to take comic book movies to a whole new level, by taking out all of the over the top sequences and effects, to bring you something raw and realistic beyond compare.
As twisted as the Joker is, this film might even feel relatable to those who feel like the world is rough and closing in around them. Hopefully there won’t be anyone influenced by the movie to go to the lengths that Joker does, but the fact that it will be relatable will add to it’s success, because this film will feel very real, and almost like a documentary or biopic in some ways. We all have bad days when the world feels hard, and life seems tough, and this film will portray the extremes of that which will bring the character of Joker to life.
Let’s move on to budgeting. This film is a low budget film, which is pretty much a first in this day and age where all comic book related movies have million to billion dollar budgets with lots of CGI, big action sequences and effects galore, whereas this film, strips all that away and proves that a film can still be a film without the big fancy effects.
I think this film will bring the world of comic book movies into a bright new future where we will get more personal low budget films that concentrate on the story rather than the appearance of the film. This film may not be a great comic book films to some fans who want what we always get with this genre, but it will be a incredible film none-the-less because it’s fresh, and lots of care has been put into the film.
Crime, laughter, violence, insanity and much more have been forged together to make this film which makes up it’s titular character and the world around him. Is it a DC film? Yes, but that doesn’t mean it has to have everything you expect. This film is focused on one character, and one character alone. So, before you go see this movie, and before you decide to boycot this film in any shape or form, you need to forget Batman, forget the comic book Joker, and forget the previous portrayals of the character. This isn’t about them, it’s about Arthur Fleck. Don’t think of this film as a comic book movie. I don’t because it won’t feel like one, and it doesn’t have to. This film will be a work of art and dare I predict that in my opinion this film will be a masterpiece of cinema, which I hope others will follow and create more personal films like this.
Todd Philips has already stated that some fans will hate this movie, and that’s fine. If you don’t like it, it’s understandable because we all know the Joker, and this isn’t the Joker we know. Philips claimed that they didn’t use any reference material such as specific comic books etc although the trailers show that there is plenty of comic book references in there such as Arthur Fleck wanting to be a comedian just like Joker in ‘The Killing Joke’. There’s also the matter of being on the talk show which is reminiscent of ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ and so there is already so much to love about what this film is bringing to live action that other films have not yet done.
Another theory is that this portrayl of Joker is not the ‘actual’ Joker and that this character will be the influence to the Joker character we know and love. My issue with this series is that a lot of people saying this are the same people stating that Joker doesn’t need an origin. So why would he need an influence? He’s completely insane and void of almost any emotion, so why would he need an influence or reason to become the Clown Prince of Crime. This theory revolves around the fact that the small child seen in the first teaser, was confrimed as Bruce Wayne, and so the age difference would be too great by the time Batman comes to Gotham. My argument is this:
Why do we need the Batman?
I get it, the Joker is Batman’s most famous villain. He has been for years and he is forever crossing paths with the Bat, but this story doesn’t need Batman. Think of it as an elseworld story. Imagine how horrifying a world with the Joker would be without the Batman to stop him. That is what this film seems to offer to us. What will the world be like with a man like Joker and without a man like Batman to stop him. He’s free to wreak havoc and no one can stop him. That is why this film will be so good! Fans need to learn to experience more than they’re used to. Step out of your comfort zone and experience something new, you might enjoy it! Again, if you don’t, that’s fine but don’t slam it becuase there are plenty of people who will enjoy it.
October cannot come fast enough in my opinion. This film will be amazing and will change the way comic book movies should be approached. I’d love to see films like based on more of the DC characters such as Dr. Johnathan Crane (a.k.a. Scarecrow) set inside Arkham Asylum as he progresses through his experiments whilst battling his own fears, or maybe a story about Batman that explores him transcending through his parents murder into a vigilante. We’ve had a similar story playout through the series Gotham with young Bruce Wayne portrayed by David Mazouz, but a dark in depth film could work. Not all fans want them, but a lot of fans do. I think there’s an opportunity here to really put these characters on the map of cinematic legends, and I predict that this Joker film will be nominated and possibly even recieve an award. Comic Book films are not known for awards, but a film like Joker with actors like Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro are going to be hard to ignore.
Joker is released in Cinema’s on October 4th and you can watch the Trailers for the film below!