Joker director Todd Phillips had to spend a year convincing Warner Bros. to make the movie R-rated. Joker gets its inspiration from DC Comics. However, it also seems to be telling a different kind of tale than previous origin stories about the infamous Batman villain, at least on film.
In Joker, Joaquin Phoenix takes on the role of Arthur Fleck, the man destined to become the Clown Prince of Crime in Gotham City. Fleck is a failed comedian, which is a nod to the Joker's origin story in The Killing Joke comic book storyline. However, the film also takes inspiration from Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy, which starred Robert De Niro, who also has a role in Joker. This take on the Joker's story is a little different from previous film iterations of the character. Phoenix's portrayal also seems darker than anything previously seen in movies or on TV.
Joker is a movie with a good deal of violence and disturbing behavior, so much so that it was rated R by the MPAA. But that R rating wasn't easy to come by. When it comes to superhero-related fare, most studios prefer their films to be a little less adult to appeal to a broader audience. However, in an interview with The L.A. Times, Phillips stated he had to convince Warner Bros. to allow him to make the movie more mature. He said:
“It was a year-long process from when we finished the script just to get the new people on board with this vision, because I pitched it to an entirely different team than made it. There were emails about: 'You realize we sell Joker pajamas at Target.' There were a zillion hurdles, and you just sort of had to navigate those one at a time.... At the time I would curse them in my head every day. But then I have to put it in perspective and go, ‘They’re pretty bold that they did this.’”
There aren't a lot of superhero-related films that can boast an R-rating. Deadpool, though, has been an exception, but if anything, the success of the Deadpool movies proves that a more adult rating can offer a boost at the box office. The Joker is a character that thrives on chaos, and if anything, he's a character that is prone to a certain amount of blood, gore and violence. The final Joker trailer shows Fleck as he makes his descent into darkness. This downward spiral could make him one of the most violent villains in the history of mainstream comic book movies.
Joker is a movie that deserves an R rating, and it seems Phillips' vision for the character will have more grit than what fans have previously seen. This is also the kind of Joker that many fans have wanted all along. Phillips' movie will likely take the character one step further, and Phoenix's portrayal may even be one that will be a hit with comic book fans and critics alike. Time will tell whether it works out for the best once Joker hits theaters in early October.
Source: The L.A. Times
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