The trailer for the Joker, directed by Todd Phillips, dropped this week, and have we got a lot of questions. Set to be released in theaters on October 4, 2019, Joker looks like it is going to be an in-depth dive into the origin story of one of the greatest comic book villains of all-time. However, Warner Brothers has made it clear that this rendition of the Joker, played by Joaquin Phoenix, is not going to be the Joker that appears in the DC Extended Universe. While that may be a good thing, as the DCEU has had more flops than Neymar during the World Cup, what can fans of this iconic character hope for from this upcoming flick? Let’s discuss what this movie appears to be, why it is, and what Warner Brothers is hoping to accomplish.
“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?”
We are experiencing the golden age of comic book movies. Marvel Studios appears to have a formula and story arc that doesn’t just churn out good movies, but is destroying records all over the place (see AMC’s pre-sale ticket server crashing due to the impending behemoth that is Avengers: Endgame). And yet, Warner Brothers, with the wealth of the interesting, well-written, compelling line-up of heroes and villains from DC, just can’t seem to catch a break. The only film of their line-up that was well-received by critics and audiences alike was Wonder Woman, and just about every single other entry into the DCEU (Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad, Justice League, Aquaman, etc.) have been met with wide-ranging criticism and disappointment. Good grief, even the Caped Crusader himself is undergoing a reboot in the DCEU! (Check out our article on who should take up the mantle here) And now we have the Joker, arguably the greatest comic book villain ever, getting his own solo movie, which will not be included in the struggling DCEU. So what and who is this movie for?
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From the trailer, this appears to be an in-depth, gritty, and focused look into who the Joker is and how he came to be. This is well-overdue, as the Joker has had multiple onscreen appearances in the many Batman films, but other than Jack Nicholson’s Jack Napier, those renditions of the characters had minimal to no backstory. Which is fine. The Joker is so recognizable and such a cultural icon, that he doesn’t really need the introduction. Especially when he is squaring off against the Dark Knight himself, and is really not the focus of the movie. Then Heath Ledger’s Joker hit the silver screen in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008). This was the first on-screen Joker which appeared to want to tell the audience why he was the way that he was. Albeit, the background was broken down into short narratives, which appeared to change over the course of the movie as to why he has his scars. Audiences and critics responded in awe of Ledger’s Joker, reaching box office heights and earning a post-mortem nomination and win of “Best Supporting Actor” in 2009. Nolan hit something with this version of the Joker, and it appears that Warner wants to capitalize on that success with the upcoming Joker.
“My mother always tells me to smile and put on a happy face”
Written by Todd Phillips and Scott Silver, Joker looks strange, gritty, and most importantly for a DC movie these days, really interesting. This movie could really hit with audiences, especially with those that know all the crazy intense origins that exist in the comics. The Joker is insane, he is dangerous, he is murderous, and he is evil. But how did he reach that point? That seems to be the point of Joker, as we see Arthur Fleck, played by Joaquin Phoenix, try to live his life in Gotham, only to be beaten down again and again, further descending into his alter ego. Arthur has a dream to make people smile, and we get to see him don clown make-up in his day job. Arthur then gets mugged and left in a dingy Gotham alley.
Then later in the trailer, we see Arthur, still in his clown make-up, riding the subway, and began to cackle before he is harassed and beaten by more of Gotham’s citizenry. These are brief moments in the trailer, but already we can see that there is going to be a clear descent in the mental state of Arthur through the movie. We also see Arthur visit Arkham Asylum and possibly meets a young Bruce Wayne through the gates of Wayne Manor. Much in the same vein of the dark and realistic portrayal of Ledger’s Joker, Phoenix’s Joker seems to be as grounded in reality as he can get. This could be the goal of Warner Brothers. Trying to give the audience something that they really want, an attempt to recapture the on-screen magic of Ledger’s Joker, but in his own solo movie, giving him space to grow and give the audience a peak into exactly who the Joker is.
There are many great moments in the trailer where we see a shirtless, malnourished Phoenix dancing and writhing in his home. He visually looks like he is losing his mins. It was moments like that that made the casting choice seem to be right on with the tone that the film is giving off. By the end of the trailer, Arthur dyes his hair the iconic green and once again paints his face in the clown make-up. Honestly, it looks good, and if this movie really is going to be an in-depth psychological thriller following the origin of the Joker, it could really hit its mark. The reason behind Warner Brothers not including this film in their DCEU canon is unclear, but perhaps they are unsure whether this very artistic-looking movie is going to hit with their target audience. Which just goes to show that they really don’t have a clear plan. Many of the DCEU movies are gritty, with a strange sense of humor, and are dark, good lord, are they dark. So the question remains, why not accept what appears to be a very well-written Joker into the fold?
However, the DCEU does not play by any rules that can be ascertained. Switching who is behind the cowl for their Batman, making a Joker film that doesn’t include their original Joker (Jared Leno), and pushing back release dates and outright cancelling upcoming movies. So perhaps Warner Brothers just isn’t sure where Joker is going to fit, and whether it is going to go well. If it indeed reaches Ledger’s Joker levels, then they can build off the solo film in a way that is separate from their established universe, or then later work this Joker in somehow. Like this article stated from the get, the trailer was released, and it just created more and more questions. We will have to wait and see whether some of those questions are going to be answered later in future trailers, or if the movie is completely different from what this article envisions entirely.
What did you think of the Joker trailer? What questions do you have now? Let us know in the comments below and visit our Facebook page to stay up to date!
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