Todd Phillips’s Joker doesn’t come out until October but we can already tell it’s going to be a movie people talk about and debate for a long, long time. There are few things people are more protective of than comic book characters and few comic book characters people are more protective of than Batman and the Joker. So I don’t care how great Joaquin Phoenix is in Joker, the movie is bound to ruffle a few feathers.
Especially when Phillips speaks about it like this (via Empire):
The news about completely ignoring the comics isn’t that surprising because we’ve known for some time just how radically different this iteration of the Joker will be. In fact, that’s what’s attracting many people to the project. But Phillips’s confirmation of the story’s autonomy will certainly make some fans of the comics and the character upset. They don’t mind some liberties being taken but disregarding the source material entirely? That’s a different story.
The origin of the Joker has been toyed with multiple times before, from Tim Burton’s Batman to the comic The Killing Joke to Nolan’s The Dark Knight. The character has persevered mostly because the idea behind him and his special form of lunacy is so special. Fans have been upset at the changes before but Phillips’s take is sure to mess with their heads even more. Remember how peeved people were when it was discovered that Heath Ledger’s Joker wore make-up and didn’t have dyed skin? That’s going to seem like small potatoes in a few months.
More than anything, this is even further confirmation that Phillips’s movie will have literally nothing to do with the DC Cinematic Universe and other superhero films in development. This one is a totally different beast. I’ve seen some speculation online that Joker will lead to sequels or even Phoenix participating in future Batman films and that’s just obviously not the case. The movie will stand defiantly on its own.
However, imagine this: if Joker is a massive hit with audiences and critics, perhaps DC and Warner Bros will take risks with other popular characters they own. This could lead to even more movies that blaze their owns paths and stay far away from the comics that created them. That could be dangerous and even more controversial. But DC’s movies are still such a mess (even though things are looking better than ever) that maybe some major risks are necessary. Joker may be the start of a new trend, one that is sure to anger fans worldwide.