Todd Phillips making a serious, grounded movie about the Joker is odd enough. Everything we've heard about this movie is intriguing as hell, and the smug skepticism some of us sported to begin with has turned to genuine interest in a DC Comics movie, which is novel in and of itself. But what will Joaquin Phoenix's Joker look like in Phillips’ film? The director appears to have gotten out ahead of that question today, releasing an image of its main character via Instagram. The answer is...more No Country For Old Men than any Batman story we've seen before.
What this picture really demonstrates is not just that Phillips’ film is an origin story of sorts - though it does do that - but that it’ll strike a tone entirely different to Joker-starring films past. Maybe Phoenix will be dropped into a vat of acid or something late in the film, but for the most part, it looks like we’ll be examining a real human being, stripped of supervillainous accoutrements. And I mean stripped - none of this “muted colour palette” or “disfigurement-based grin” nonsense from Christopher Nolan’s Saturday morning cartoons. This is just...Arthur.
Given that the film reportedly takes after Scorsese’s King of Comedy, that’s pretty exciting. It’s been described as “an exploration of a man disregarded by society that is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale,” which is a more interesting interpretation of “gritty and realistic” than “everything’s dark and bad guys bleed when you punch them.” It’s made even more interesting when (huzzah!) you realise the film is being made with no connection to the broader slate of DC Universe films.
Joker (or whatever it ends up being called) hits cinemas October 4th, 2019. Jared Leto will also be starring in a Joker movie at some point, and he’s probably furious with envy right now. Green, even.