Todd Phillips will apparently get the last laugh, teasingly hinting at the changes his Joker movie underwent in the wake of the script leaks. Phillips previously made his name at the helm of such popular comedies as Old School and The Hangover trilogy. In recent years, however, the New York-born director has shifted into much more dramatic fare. After directing the 2016 crime film, War Dogs, it was confirmed that he would sit in the director's chair on a solo Joker outing starring Joaquin Phoenix.
The DCEU is set to continue in the coming years, with such sequels as Wonder Woman 1984 and such soft-reboots as The Batman starring Robert Pattinson already confirmed. Despite that, Joker will be very much a standalone and unconnected film. With shades of Martin Scorsese's earlier work, Joker tells the story of Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) - a struggling stand-up comedian who, after a lifetime of being abused and downtrodden, finds himself developing a new persona and spiraling into madness. The film recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival, earning extremely positive reviews from critics and an eight-minute long standing ovation from those in attendance.
Phillips previously spent a year convincing Warner Bros. to make the film R-rated. On top of that, the director had to deal with the fact that segments of the script had leaked online. Circulating on various forums and outlets, descriptions of the leaked scenes prompted a wave of vitriolic comments regarding controversial content and filmmaking decisions. Despite the overwhelming positivity now surrounding the film, there remains a vocal section of fans who have already judged the film before having seen it. Speaking via APNews, Phillips highlighted why that would be a mistake. Revealing his belief that the script in question was a draft from 2018, the director insisted that the story had changed quite a bit between that draft the start of filming. "They’re in for a big surprise when they see the movie," he said.
Phillip's comments fall firmly in line with Phoenix's own. The actor recently revealed that the story and aspects of the character were perpetually in flux and would often change from day-to-day. Set in 1981 Gotham City, the film will predate the emergence of Batman by a good few decades and took no direct inspiration from comic book storylines. As well as Phoenix, Joker will star Robert de Niro as TV show host Murray Franklin, Zazie Beetz as Arthur's neighbor Sophie, and Brett Cullen as Thomas Wayne. Though it serves as very much a standalone, Phillips hasn't ruled out a future sequel.
Moviegoers will, of course, formulate their own opinions once they have seen the film - whether they read the leaked script details or not. Based on early box office projections, the film is already tracking to have a bigger opening than the impressive returns experienced by Aquaman. Equally, the film is expected to break Venom's October record. That, coupled with the critical acclaim, certainly lends itself to the idea that the leaks did little offset the quality and anticipation of the film. And for those that were swayed by them and the subsequent controversy, it would appear that Joker has gone above and beyond to ensure that it'll be even more subversive than for those who weren't.
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022