Gotham City's Clown Prince of Crime is now going to be the star of his own movie, with Todd Phillips' Joker currently filming on location in New York City. Co-written by Phillips with Scott Silver (The Fighter), the film stars Joaquin Phoenix as the man who will become the Joker: a failed comedian called Arthur Fleck. The cast also includes Robert De Niro as a popular talk show host, Marc Maron as his talent manager, and Zazie Beetz as Sophie Dumond, a single mother living a hard life in Gotham's Lower East Side. Arthur himself lives with his own mother, who will be played by Frances Conroy.
Since Joker is filming in public at the moment, the shoots have been crawling with paparazzi snapping photos of Phoenix in his clown make-up and costume. Phillips has responded to the photo leaks by releasing his own photos of the movie's characters, explaining, "It bums me out that [the paparazzi] constantly put out their bad shots. So I figure, may as well put out some good ones."
Between the unofficial set photos and the official behind-the-scenes images shared by Phillips, we've been offered considerable insight into one of Warner Bros. most intriguing upcoming DC projects. Joker is an origin story that stands completely apart from the DC Extended Universe's continuity (Jared Leto will continue to play the Joker in upcoming DCEU movies), so we don't really have any idea what to expect. However, thanks to the set photos we have been able to pull together some interesting details about the movie's plot.
- This Page: Arthur Fleck, Thomas Wayne, and the Joker Mob
- Page 2: Zazie Beetz's Character, Joker's Makeup, and More
Arthur Fleck, The Wannabe Comedian
Phillips confirmed with an Instagram photo caption that Phoenix's character is called Arthur, which fits with earlier reports that the character's real name is Arthur Fleck. Based on another Instagram photo, of Phoenix dressed in a full clown costume with the caption "Work," it seems as though Arthur supplements his lack of income as a stand-up comedian by working a day job as a clown for hire. This is compounded by the fact that, in the very first set photos, Arthur was shown having an altercation with another clown - going so far as to pull off the rival clown's red nose and throw it in the street. The exchange takes place in Amusement Mile, a neighborhood in Gotham City that's home to a dilapidated carnival. It's also home to another interesting business: Ha-Ha Talent Booking.
Marc Maron's Character & Ha-Ha Talent Booking
We have yet seen Marc Maron on the set of Joker, but we do know that he's playing a talent agent in charge of booking for the talk show hosted by Robert De Niro's character. It's a fairly safe assumption that his company is Ha-Ha Talent Booking, the same one that Arthur is seen emerging from. Joker is said to be inspired by Martin Scorsese's 1982 film The King of Comedy, in which De Niro played a failed stand-up comedian (sound familiar?) who becomes obsessed with a popular talk show host. If Phillips' film has a similar plot, Maron's character may play a pivotal role as the gatekeeper standing between Arthur and his idol.
The Joker Gains A Cult Following
Like all charismatic figures, the Joker has a tendency to attract followers and fanatics (just ask Harley Quinn), and it looks like Phoenix's Joker will have a similar charm. Set photos and videos emerged that showed a riot taking place in a subway station, with Joker making a sly getaway amid the chaos. Members of the mob can be seen wearing their own clown makeup, masks, and wigs, while Joker himself takes off a clown mask to reveal that he has identical makeup on underneath. The Joker is known for using decoys (in The Killing Joke, Batman goes to interrogate the Joker at Arkham Asylum, only to discover that it's someone else in Joker makeup), and since Arthur isn't disfigured underneath the makeup, he could easily adopt the Joker as his secret identity while still carrying on his regular life as Arthur Fleck.
The angry clown mob itself is reminiscent of a scene from the New 52's Detective Comics #5, in which Batman surveys a group of protesters with clown makeup and green hair, carrying signs with messages like "We are the Joker." The Joker also had a devoted crew of followers called the Jokerz in the animated series Batman Beyond.
Thomas Wayne Gets Attacked By The Joker Mob
In the video showing the Joker mob attacking, you may notice someone on the ground getting trampled and beaten. That someone is actually Thomas Wayne, father of Bruce Wayne, who is played by Brett Cullen (Narcos) and is running for Mayor in Joker. The movie is set in the 1980s, which is why Thomas Wayne is still alive and Bruce Wayne himself is presumably just a child. The subway set featured posters that said, rather bizarrely, "Thomas Wanye [sic] For Mayor" (it's unclear whether Wayne's campaign manager or Joker's props department dropped the ball on that one). The posters also included the slogan "Moving Gotham Forward." However, it looks like the citizens of Gotham aren't interested in moving forward with Wayne. Signs held by the protesters boast slogans such as "Capitalism does not work for you," "Clown4Mayor," "Kill the Rich," "Blame Wayne" and "Facist [sic] Wayne is to blame" - all of which points to a class war stirred up by Phoenix's proto-Joker.
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