Ask anybody with a working knowledge of superhero media, who Batman’s greatest enemy is, and you’ll get the answer of “the Joker.” Notable for his chalk-white face, possibly green hair, and possibly purple suit ensemble, this Gotham City super-villain has been the Dark Knight’s most iconic foe, who (unlike his 1989 movie version) just cannot seem to die. Also notable to comic “scholars” are his differing motivations (from Clown Prince of Crime to an agent of chaos) and also his varying origins from the source comic books. Soon DC’s parent company Warner Bros. will focus on the Joker in an upcoming film, the first trailer of which has come out.
The Verge has it that a preview of a new DC Comics-inspired film about the Joker was just recently released. The movie stars Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, while the plot of the movie stands on its own. This is due to a directive from Warner Bros. Pictures to de-emphasize the shared universe setting of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) series where other DC cinematic adaptations belong. “Joker” is described as a psychological thriller, and will tell the origin story of the clown-dressed master criminal and how he came to be as he is.
Based on scenes from the trailer, the storyline appears to mesh several origin narratives concerning the Joker as seen on the comics. Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a man living in Gotham with his mother, who works as a clown to support her medication for a psychological disorder. As a child according to Arthur’s voiceover, his mother encouraged him to smile regardless of his present circumstance. But his frequent encounters with ostracism and physical violence, coupled with his perception that there is something wrong with society, ultimately twists him to become Gotham’s most dangerous criminal mind.
Warner Bros. has described “Joker” as taking elements from films directed by Martin Scorsese, who also serves as one of this movie’s producers. These inspirations, like 1976’s “Taxi Driver” and 1982’s “The King of Comedy,” contain biting satire and psychological studies of troubled individuals that are also prevalent in some of the best comic-book origins for the Joker such as “The Killing Joke.” Casting also reveals that the Wayne Family is also part of the story, though how exactly they will factor into Arthur’s journey to becoming the Joker, remains a mystery for the moment.
The film also stars Scorsese collaborator Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Dante Pereira-Olson, Douglas Hodge and Bill Camp. “Joker” will be darkly inviting viewers to “put on a happy face” later this year, on October 4. Earlier this week the Fox TV show “Gotham,” another take on the Batman mythos, also revealed its final look for its own version of the Joker, played by Cameron Monaghan.
Image courtesy of IGN