When Todd Phillips was given the helm for the villain origin of Joker, there’s a part of me–and probably every other DC stan and comic nerd out there–that believed he told DC Comics and, specifically, Warner Bros. Pictures that if he was going to do this, it would his way or no way.
The beleaguered duo of movie making got their man and now we are getting our movie. On one condition: You don’t go in there acting like a comic snob, because according to an exclusive in Empire, if you do, you will be sorely disappointed.
Now, before you read this, just know that Todd Phillips staunchly knows what he is doing. This is a slightly different genre for him, known largely for comedy (Hangover, Old School, Road Trip) but the guy can clearly tell a story.
That is going to be the core of Joker and why this movie will crush expectations. And possibly become the first CBM nominated for one of the big awards (while the actor is still with us…RIP Heath Ledger). Nonetheless, here’s the quote that has canonical nerds all up in a frenzy:
“We didn’t follow anything from the comic-books, which people are gonna be mad about,” the writer-director tells Empire. “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 will be a film led by a visionary director and one of the most gifted actors of this generation in Joaquin Phoenix. Candidly, this quote should make everyone celebrate. DC Comics is going to have a movie that will cut through the snobbish Hollywood clutter because it will take a pragmatic, realistic look at a man and how he devolves into a criminal mastermind.
Think about that: All superheroes or arch-nemeses of those heroes typically come with a cosmic or intergalactic connection wrought in fantasy and science fiction bewilderment.
“Arthur Fleck” is a dude like any other dude. Only life kicks him in the balls over and over and over again, until he finally can’t take it any longer and breaks extremely bad. All the while, the man is trying to honor his mother and do what he loves. People won’t let him. Life doesn’t allow him. So he forces his own way, the only way he can.
Sound like anyone you know? It could, and that’s the point of Phillips taking this path to tell the story of DC’s most renowned villain.
He could be a real person, which is why this movie will create such visceral reactions in critics and fans alike. Regretfully for millions of people who have crossed their paths, psychopaths exist in this world. Fleck will just become one of the many, one of the worst…all created and portrayed by one of the best.
What a movie this will be.