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Thoughts on Todd Philips’ Joker Movie

January 28, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Joaquin Phoenix Joker

With so much comic book movie news to cover, I find my attention set on Todd Philips and his Joker project. So many questions are being raised about the Joaquin Phoenix led movie and it has the feel of being something different and giving the superhero movie a twisted look.

Phillips‘ Joker origin tale is playing it close to vest and the fact that it’s a low-budget noir vibe just makes it that much better. The latest news from the set just adds to its mystique.

In an interview with MTV News, Zazie Beetz shared that the script from Phillips and Scott Silver was being re-written throughout production, even as close as the same day as the scene.

“I can’t say anything. It’s gritty and dark. I mean, I haven’t seen a cut or anything. Gotham. [laughs] The script was great. We rewrote the whole thing while we were shooting it,” Beetz said. “Literally, we would go into Todd’s trailer and write the scene for the night and then do it. During hair and makeup we’d memorize those lines and then do them and then we’d reshoot that three weeks later.”

“We had to do everything then because Joaquin had lost so much weight that we couldn’t do reshoots later on so we were figuring it out,” Beetz said. “But Todd’s quick at getting stuff done so we always had extra time.”

How does this fit with everything else we know about the movie? First, its $55 million budget is nothing in today’s Hollywood. When most superhero movies come in at $100 million plus, this budget inspires creativity and being character driven.

Joker, as noted above, is a origin movie of Gotham City’s Clown Prince of Crime that diverges from the comic books where Batman will not have a part in his birth. In fact, it’s this little nugget that some are saying that the whole Phoenix as Arthur Fleck is not really the Joker but a herring meant to distract us from the true story. While this is intriguing, it’s a huge gamble on their part and they’d really have to deliver on the reveal to avoid risking huge fan backlash.

This movie is not connected to DC’s Extended Universe but that doesn’t mean much because of the unstable nature of its cinematic universe. Jared Leto’s Joker is just as viable as Phoenix’s.

This Joker is tagged as being a standalone film that is set in the early 1980s and tracks Phoenix’s Fleck, a failed standup comedian, who finds himself going down a road of crime in Gotham City.

A couple casting calls of note include Brett Cullen as Thomas Wayne with ‘Master Bruce’ being played by Dante Pereira-Olson. Douglas Hodge will play Alfred Pennyworth, the Wayne family butler with Robert De Niro, Beetz, Bill Camp, Marc Maron, Frances Conroy, Glenn Fleshler, Josh Pais and Shea Whigham rounding out the cast.

Even with the very little we know, I’m really curious about this. The smaller budget promises to make this a more intimate movie, which I feel is needed in the comic book movie world. Everyone involved seems to be a good fit for this complex puzzle and I’m hoping for a satisfying payoff.

What are your expectations for the Joker?