In the latest entry of our ongoing series, Screen Rant's Ryan George reveals what (probably) happened in the pitch meeting for Todd Phillips' dark DC supervillain origin story, Joker. Starring Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, Joker imagines the Clown Prince of Crime having humble origins as a miserable sign-spinning clown who lives with his mother and has a condition that causes him to burst into uncontrollable laughter when he's stressed or upset.
This isn't the first movie about a scary murder clown, or even the first movie about a scary murder clown to release this year (shout out to IT Chapter Two), but Joker is on the much shorter list of movies where the scary murder clown is the protagonist. Because of this, it started generating controversy before it was even released, with fears that Joker could inspire a clown-themed mass shooting. Police patrolled outside screenings, in New York, and Landmark Theaters banned viewers from wearing costumes and/or Joker makeup.
Fortunately, so far the biggest disruption to Joker screenings has been latecomers using their phone flashlights to find their seats, and people crinkling candy wrappers at tense moments - which is enough to turn anyone into a supervillain. While technically not connected to any other movies in the DC Extended Universe, like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice or the upcoming soft reboot The Batman, Joker does provide plenty of fresh material for fan theories, so we recruited the help of The Film Theorists for this pitch meeting.
In theory, Joker was meant to be a standalone, one-and-done movie. However, given that it's breaking box office records, it wouldn't be at all surprising if Warner Bros. tried to find a way to bring back Phoenix's Joker. Even amid all the backlash, he's definitely been a lot better received than Jared Leto's Suicide Squad version, and even the negative reviews of Joker admit that Phoenix's performance is hard to fault. The question, of course, is whether Phoenix would actually be interested in returning.
While the Joker works out his angst by shooting people and dancing on steps, the Joker's ex-girlfriend is also embracing a fresh start in the next live-action DC movie: Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). The DCEU will then get back on firm sequel tracks with Wonder Woman 1984, before veering into the muddy waters of soft reboot territory again with a sort-of-sequel to Suicide Squad that's simply called The Suicide Squad. The DC movie landscape may be confusing, but at least it's here to have a good time.
- 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 Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022