Joker is going to change things for DC’s slate of movies. And according to the film’s director, that’s mostly the reason why he wanted to make it in the first place.
In an interview with Empire Magazine, Todd Phillips revealed that in a current blockbuster landscape driven by certain comic book storylines being adapted for the big screen, The Hangover director wants to go the exact opposite direction. If he had a rule for the making of the Joaquin Phoenix-starring Joker movie, it was to ignore comic book lore altogether.
“We didn’t follow anything from the comic books, which people are gonna be mad about,” said Phillips. “We just wrote our own version of where a guy like Joker might come from. That’s what was interesting to me. We’re not even doing Joker, but the story of becoming Joker. It’s about this man.”
Tim Burton’s Batman gave the Clown Prince of Crime a new origin story – he killed Bruce Wayne’s parents – that was different from anything in the comics at that time. In The Dark Knight, director Christopher and his brother/co-writer Jonah Nolan famously kept having Joker change up his origin story by being an unreliable narrator when explaining how he got his scars.
But for Phillips, Joker’s appeal is largely how blank of a slate he is. He and his collaborators embraced that element of the character, using Batman’s greatest villain as a blank canvas for their envelope-pushing, R-rated fall tentpole.
When it came to casting for the role, Phillips explained that there was no debate; Phoenix was the guy to put on the clown paint next.
“I think he’s the greatest actor,” the director said. “We had a photo of him above our computer while we were writing. We constantly thought, ‘God, imagine if Joaquin actually does this.’”
Fans will get to see what the actor and his director pulled off when Joker opens everywhere October 4.