Every time word of that Joker movie in production by DC Comics and Warner Bros. comes up, I can’t help but wonder if the movie itself is the joke. But the pieces are coming together and, while I’m still not sure it’s a great idea, it’s starting to make sense.
According to The Wrap, the movie is going to show the Joker “as a failed 1980s comedian who becomes the clown prince of crime after bombing with audiences.” That points to two big sources of inspiration for the script. Fans of Batman comics will immediately think of Alan Moore’s legendary story, The Killing Joke.
The 1988 graphic novel told the story of the Joker attempting to push Commissioner Gordon over the edge and, in the process, revealed an origin story for the Joker himself. In that story, he was a failing comedian who turned to crime to take care of his family before ultimately being driven insane by “one bad day.” While elements of that story did make their way into the Batman canon, such as Barbara Gordon’s shooting and resulting paralysis, the origin story for the clown himself isn’t necessarily so, something the 2008 film The Dark Knight nods to with the Joker telling a variety of origin stories to his victims.
Another source of inspiration will allegedly be the 1982 film King of Comedy. That film was produced by Martin Scorsese, who is also involved with this Joker origin story. The movie starred Robert De Niro as a deluded comedian who kidnaps a celebrity to get his big break. The Joker film will apparently include nods to that movie.
The Wrap notes that Joaquin Phoenix is closing in on a deal to play the Joker, which is a reminder that this film will be separate from the DCEU, where Jared Leto plays an inked-up version of Batman’s arch-nemesis. The film is set to start filming this year, though rewrites of the script could cause delays.
The Joker film is currently set to be directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover), executive produced by Martin Scorsese, and written by Phillips himself and Scott Silver (8 Mile). If the movie does get underway this year, it’s possible we could see it by fall of 2019, but there’s no word yet on a release date.