Rumors Joker, which stars Joaquin Phoenix, really and completely is its own thing — and not based on any comic continuity — can be confirmed.
In his interview with Empire, director Todd Phillips stated he did not base the upcoming movie off anything from the source material because he wanted to tell an origin story of a man with his own circumstances. Phillips adds he knows his clean slate is bound to unnerve some people:
“We didn’t follow anything from the comic books, which people are gonna be mad about. 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.”
This report backs up spoilers we addressed, claiming Joker is a faux lovechild of Thomas Wayne who thinks little Bruce is his half-brother. Learning that isn’t true, he goes on a killing spree and becomes an anti-hero for the “99%.” His actions plunge Gotham into the chaos that does in the Waynes, the city’s identifiable patriarchs.
The biggest clue the movie would be unlike anything previously related to Batman or our typical Mr. J was his new identity: Arthur Fleck, a play on Ben Affleck. The character played by Phoenix has never appeared anywhere before and is a unique creation for the film.
Phoenix also talks as if Joker will follow a new, if not totally unanticipated, path. He told Collider the film exists in its own world and that it kind of scares him:
“It feels unique, it is its own world in some ways, and maybe, mostly, it scares the f— s— out of me, or something.”
The actor added a project might as well be something that scares him most. He also talked about what it is like stepping into a role everybody has a personal concept of, including the filmmakers:
“They have their expectation, and they’ve imagined things in their head, and they’ve imagined different actors, and suddenly you take it on and so there’s this moment of anxiety of ‘Did I live up to their expectations?’ And at some point you have to just own it and say like ‘I can’t consider who they might have thought up before or what the movie was for the 6 months ago, this is what it is now and I have to find my way into it.’”
Phillips said he likes the energy Phoenix brought to the role in the raw, real locations they filmed. He also claimed Warner Bros.’ new creative direction for DC’s cinematic universe, focusing on smaller budgets and standalone narratives, was his idea. Additionally, Phillips said he pitched a “DC Black” label for the studio’s standalone comic book movies.
Full plot details are still, technically, under wraps, but our coverage gives a pretty good idea of what to expect. Called “a series of gut punches,” Joker hits theaters in October.