Believe it or not, there’s a new Joker movie on the horizon. As in, it’s hitting theaters on October 4, which isn’t all that far away. October is the perfect month to release a movie about a psychopath playing dress up.
Even if you’re not a comic fan, you know who Joker is. Maybe your first introduction to him was Heath Ledger’s haunting portrayal in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Or perhaps you saw him way back in the 1960s Batman series, when he was played by Cesar Romero. Joker been a part of media for decades, whether it be in movies, TV shows, or video games.
That level of notoriety has propelled Joker to become one of the most iconic villains of all time—on a par with Darth Vader from Star Wars and Miss Trunchbull from Matilda. Which makes the upcoming movie from Warner Bros. a huge deal. Can a movie about Batman’s nemesis be interesting?
Here’s everything you need to know about the Joker movie.
So, this doesn’t star Jared Leto?
Here’s where things get tricky. In Suicide Squad, Joker was played by Jared Leto. Breaking from the character’s iconic look and style, Leto’s portrayal turned Joker into more of a gothic punk, someone you’d see on a fashion show runway, rather than committing crimes.
Leto’s version was also more gangster than evil mastermind. It was a tonal and stylistic choice from Leto and director David Ayer that just didn’t quite payoff. Compared to Ledger’s take on the character, who was menacing and dangerous, many fans would prefer to forget that Leto’s version ever happened.
Ok, then who’s in it?
Now that we’ve established Leto isn’t playing Joker, who is? None other than Joaquin Phenix, best known for his work in films like The Gladiator, Inherent Vice, and Her. It’s a bold choice, but Phoenix has proven himself a capable actor in a variety of roles, someone who can quietly boil with rage and also be tender and vulnerable.
While we haven’t seen Phoenix in action as Joker, director Todd Phillips has shared plenty of behind-the-scenes images of the actor in full Joker costume. His look is a major improvement over Leto’s version, we know that much.
Other actors expected to appear in the film include Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Marc Maron, and Shea Whigham, among many others. It’s an all-star cast, although we’re not entirely sure how each actor will factor into the story.
However, we do know that Beetz’s character is playing a woman named Sophie Dumond, who is Joker’s love interest. We can already guess where this is going. No doubt, her role will factor into the deterioration of Joker’s mind, as I’m sure their relationship won’t be very Brady bunch.
If it doesn’t feature Batman, what is the movie about?
What we know so far is that the movie will take place in the ‘80s, which means it’ll be an origin story of sorts and take place long before Joker starts tormenting Batman. Which will be interesting, because we rarely see one without the other.
Before Joker becomes Joker, he’ll be known as Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian who is disregarded by society. Soon, he’s driven insane and takes on the persona of Joker, a psychotic anarchist who wreaks havoc across Gotham.
We’ve seen some images from the set indicating that Joker has become the face of a revolution. Apparently, he motivates people to protest against capitalism and the rich, connecting with those who feel under-represented in society.
In the comics, films, and video games, Joker has always attracted a certain crowd, and it looks like the newest film will be no different.
Does it connect to the DCEU?
The film doesn’t share the same universe as the DCEU, hence why someone else is taking on the Joker role. That means we won’t ever see Jason Momoa’s Aquaman or Ben Affleck’s Batman appear in a film with Phoenix’s Joker.
It’s unclear if Warner Bros. has plans to expand on Pheonix’s Joker in later films that are separate from the DCEU. It would be pretty weird to see the studio build two separate connected universes, but if Phoenix’s take on the Joker connects with audiences, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him to appear in more movies.
Who will have the last laugh?
To recap, Joaquin Phoenix is playing Joker. That’s because this newest film isn’t connected to the DCEU. Oh, and although Bruce Wayne is expected to feature in Joker, we’ll see a much younger version, which means we won’t see Joker face off against Batman.
All things considered, Joker is a gamble. The filmmakers will need to strike a careful balance. Without any kind of protagonist (that we know of), the film will need to make audiences care about the Joker. Which will be tough, because we already have our preconceived notions and know that he’s not a redeemable character.
Joker hits theaters on October 4, 2019.