Not so long ago at the annual CinemaCon — a gathering for movie theatre executives — director Todd Phillips took to the stage to discuss his new film Joker, essentially a spinoff from the Batman franchise starring Joaquin Phoenix as the Dark Knight’s arch enemy. As such, it’s taking the character in a new and pretty unexpected way, and like Deadpool and Logan before it, has received an R-rating — a Batman franchise first. Its final trailer can be viewed above.
“There’s been a lot of chatter about what this film is and what it isn’t,” Todd said. “And most of it hasn’t been very accurate. But that’s what happens when you set out to make an origin story about a character who doesn’t have an origin.”
During production, the film made headlines from who joined the project or left the project (in both cases it was Alec Baldwin, who was supposed to play Thomas Wayne, the father of Batman), but Todd definitely placed the focus right back on the film itself when he released a video of Joaquin transforming into the title character. Earlier, on Instagram, Todd presented what was the first image we’ve had of the actor in character, but without the traditional makeup.
Yet as Cesar Romero on the ’60s Batman TV series, Jack Nicholson in 1989’s Batman, Heath Ledger in 2008’s The Dark Knight, and Jared Leto in 2016’s Suicide Squad have proven, the look can definitely vary from interpretation to interpretation. From what’s been released so far about the storyline of the film (and supported by the trailer), it’s supposed to be, as noted by Warner Bros., an “exploration of a man disregarded by society that is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.”
Arthur, it seems, starts off as a struggling stand-up comedian, but things go drastically wrong in his life and he ultimately transforms into the Joker. The character’s traditional origin has him in battle with Batman, culminating in his slipping into a vat of chemicals that turns his skin color chalk white, his hair green, and pretty much drives him insane. How they’ll handle things will be interesting as there apparently is no intention of including the Batman character.
The cast includes Zazie Beetz (Domino in Deadpool 2), Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy, Marc Maron, and Bryan Callen. It’s scheduled for release on October 4.
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