In addition to keeping the DC Extended Universe going in the coming years with entries like Shazam!, Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman 1984, Warner Bros is also delivering a standalone DC tale in the form of Joker. First announced in summer 2017, the movie began filming in September, and director Todd Phillips has confirmed that the Joker production has wrapped with the following social media post.
While nowadays it’s rarely possible for a blockbuster movie to film without at least a few leaked set photos popping up online, Joker‘s production in New York City has been quite the open book over the last three months, giving us a fairly good idea of what’s in store. But principal photography is just one step in the moviemaking process, and as Todd Phillips noted in his Instagram post, now begins the process of editing Joker together.
There’s still 10 months to go until Joker‘s release, and even though the movie worked with a smaller budget than your average comic book movie, it’s possible that some time might be said aside in 2019 for reshoots. Nevertheless, wrapping up the initial shooting period is a tremendous accomplishment, and Todd Phillips expressed gratitude for the crew that was around in New York City. Joker also shot for a little bit in New Jersey, specifically Jersey City and Newark.
Along with set photos and videos being posted online, Todd Phillips has also been fairly open about Joker‘s creative process, sharing his own looks at the making of the movie on social media. Whether he’ll continue doing so during the post-production phase or not remains to be seen, but it would be cool to get some behind-the-scenes pictures from the editing bay. Directors M. Night Shyamalan and David F. Sandberg have been similarly transparent through the making of Glass and Shazam!, respectively.
The Joker has been antagonizing Batman since 1940, and nearly 80 years later, one could argue that The Clown Prince of Crime is equal in popularity to the Caped Crusader. Joker has already been played in live action movies by Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Jared Leto, but Joaquin Phoenix‘s turn as the cackling villain marks the first time that the character is the center of attention on the big screen. Leto is still holding down the fort as The Joker within the DCEU (though when he’ll return hasn’t been officially been revealed yet), but now we’re getting to see what a one-off telling of his rise to power looks like outside of the confines of a massive franchise.
In this version of the tale, which is taking cues from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s one-shot graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, the eponymous character is originally known as Arthur Fleck, played by Joaquin Phoenix. The actor was first rumored to be up for the role back in February, but it wasn’t until July that his involvement in Joker was finally confirmed. Phoenix had actually been interested in appearing in a “character study”-type comic book movie centered on a super villain back in 2014, but it would be another four years before his wish came true. Leonardo DiCaprio had reportedly been considered to play Joker before a deal with Phoenix was finalized.
Set in the early 1980s, Joker follows Arthur Fleck as a failed stand-up comedian who is driven to insanity and becomes a criminal mastermind leaving a trail of destruction the likes of which Gotham City has never seen before. The movie’s supporting cast includes Robert De Niro as a talk show host who somehow plays a role in Arthur’s turn to crime; Zazie Beetz as a “cynical” single mother who becomes Arthur’s love interest; Frances Conroy as Penny Fleck, Arthur’s mother; and Marc Maron as an agent working on De Niro’s character’s talk show. The cast also includes Bill Camp, Glenn Fleshler, Shea Whigham, Bryan Callen and Josh Pais.
And if you thought that The Joker is the only character from the comics who’s appearing in this movie, you’d be mistaken. Joker is also including the Wayne family, with Brett Cullen playing Thomas Wayne and Dante Pereira-Olson playing Bruce Wayne (there’s no word yet on who’s been cast as Martha Wayne). Oh, and it wouldn’t be a Wayne household without Alfred Pennyworth serving as the trusty butler. He’ll be played by Douglas Hodge.
Traditionally in the comics, Batman has played a role in The Joker’s origin story, usually by being directly or indirectly responsible for the often unidentified man falling into the vat of chemicals that turned his hair green, his skin chalk white, his lips red and ultimately transforming him into a anarchistic lunatic. The Dark Knight gave us a Joker who became unhinged without Batman’s presence and Suicide Squad showed that you can include the villain in a movie without him having face time with Batman, but Joker is still peculiar in that this version of the character is “debuting” while Bruce Wayne is still a child.
I’ve previously speculated on how Phoenix’s Joker could actually be a precursor to the real Joker who will pop up years later, but that’s hardly guaranteed to happen. In any case, Joker is definitely setting itself up to be a different type of comic book movie, having more in common with a drama like The King of Comedy than the traditional fare from Marvel and DC.
It will also be particularly interesting to see how Joker performs next fall, because if it ends up being critically and commercially successful, this could be the first in a slate of DC movies that are standalone and don’t need to be tied to anything else. The DCEU shows no signs of stopping anytime soon, but Warner Bros could take a two-pronged approach and hash out a separate label filled with content that don’t need to worry about continuity restrictions and can take a more Elseworlds-like approach with adapting source material. It all depends on how Joker is received by audiences.
Joker will be released in theaters on October 4, 2019, so keep checking back with CinemaBlend for continuing coverage about its progress. Head to our 2019 release schedule to find out what other movies are coming out next year, or look through our DCEU guide to find out what projects are in development for that shared universe.
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