When news first broke that Todd Phillips of The Hangover trilogy fame was directing a standalone Joker movie, I can’t say I was hugely optimistic. Justice League was still fresh in my mind, and after whatever it was that Jared Leto did with the character in Suicide Squad left me unenthusiastic about a new incarnation. However, in the very same article that told me Phillips was directing also claimed that Joaquin Pheonix was attached to star.
Creating something of a paradox, I was dreading and intrigued about this in equal measures, then the cast expanded to include the likes of Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Marc Maron, and Shea Whigham. I know that DC has tricked us before with their trailers (I’m talking to you Suicide Squad), but Joker isn’t fooling around as this looks very promising.
This standalone origin tells the story of Arthur Fleck (Pheonix), a man shunned by society who is pushed beyond breaking point to become the ultimate cautionary tale. Unlike previous big-screen incarnations of the character, the Joker gets centre stage and is unburdened with connecting to anything. Naturally, if this film is a massive hit, then there could be a sequel, but I’m liking the new approach of just making solid movies that work on their own. Do this for another year or two, then do a team-up. A Justice League with Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, and Shazam, take my money already.
It remains unclear if Joker will get the R-rating that the fans will undoubtedly be hoping for after this trailer. Costing a reported $55 million, Joker is a much lower risk even with an R-rating than its big-budget counterparts like Justice League and Aquaman. A crime thriller with no superpowered characters is always going to be more cost effective to produce, but the response to the trailer suggests a possible blockbuster.
Warner Bros recently announced a horror-themed spin-off from Aquaman featuring the monstrous creatures known as The Trench. If this is the way forward for Worlds of DC, mixing more grown-up offerings with the crowd-pleasing event movies is something I can get behind.
Joker is released in cinemas on October 4.