We already know Joker is a standalone origin film outside mainline DC Extended Universe continuity but its divergence might not stop there. Based on new leaks, the plot will differ more drastically from the source material than ever. (Massive spoiler warning from here.)
The leaks come from test screening attendees sharing information picked up by ComicBookMovie.com and other sources that divulge aspects of main characters, setting, and huge twists.
Weaponized Nerd Rage on YouTube broke the details down with some analysis and he came away unsure this is a real Joker movie.
Joaquin Phoenix plays a guy named Arthur Fleck, a struggling stand-up comic in the 1980s who lands a gig on a late-night talk show before going insane. This was revealed by early reports and the trailer but there is way more to Fleck.
As a street-performing clown, he works for a talent agency in Gotham City during a dour period of crime and recession, 1981. Fleck also has severe mental problems being handled by a social worker. Complicating them further is his nervous tick: uncontrollable laughter.
He moves in with his abusive, bipolar mother to take care of her, which is a recipe for disaster especially after mommy tells Arthur a lie that is the movie’s biggest twist. She had an affair with Thomas Wayne when she worked as his secretary and Arthur is Wayne’s illegitimate son and Bruce’s half-brother (something explored before but never in relation to The Joker).
Wayne, played by Brett Cullen, is a patriarch of Gotham’s upper and either runs for Mayor or is Mayor. He wants to clean up Gotham but ignores the ex-employee from his past, Fleck’s mother. This both draws her ire and stirs up her son who believes Wayne is his papa.
Unsurprisingly, Fleck grows to virulently dislike rich and white-collar people. Once he loses his job, he kills three Wall Street workers on the subway, sparking a “Resist” movement against the elites that causes the people to turn on Thomas Wayne and also target him. The Waynes’ murder consequently turns into political assassination as opposed to a mugging gone wrong.
The only person Fleck takes any liking to is the single mother played by Zazie Beetz. She takes pity on Arthur and is nice to him. He mistakes her treatment for affection and begins to stalk her. Finding out she has a boyfriend, he makes a scene at her workplace that causes her to be fired and push Arthur out of her life.
Off the deep end fully, Fleck gives comedy one more try. He bombs at the gig but the tape reaches late-night host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). Booked for the show, Fleck is met with nothing but ridicule when Franklin roasts him which doesn’t go over well. He winds up killing Franklin with a pistol on live TV after a rant about the rich oppressing the poor.
A riot ensues that ultimately takes the lives of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Arthur is taken into custody eventually and winds up in Arkham — producers changed it to a hospital from the usual asylum full of criminals — where he’d previously snapped and murdered his mother for lying to him about Wayne and other sordid indiscretions.
As for the costume and make-up, Phoenix reportedly doesn’t appear in full Joker get-up until the last 30 minutes so director Todd Phillips could go for a slow-burn origin with the transformation into the Joker serving as a big reveal.
Much of the above is unconfirmed speculation from anonymous sources and therefore may not be entirely accurate. That said, Shazam!’s spoilers and predictions turned out to be correct and we fully expect Joker to be something dark and different from the standard superhero fare, per star Marc Maron, who said he wouldn’t normally do a comic book adaptation.
If it’s a thriller exploring mental illness in an impoverished metropolis (no pun intended), taking a deep and wild political turn that turns the Clown Prince of Crime into an anti-hero is not beyond the pale with Maron and particularly Robert De Niro involved.
Joker is out Oct. 4th. Do you think you will still see it? Tell us below.