The Batman Storyline Todd Phillips' Joker Movie May Be Taking Inspiration From

Joker The Killing Joke

Out of all the DC projects currently in development, few have turned more heads than the non-DCEU Joker origin movie. The Todd Philips-directed, Martin Scorsese-produced DC film has remained mostly shrouded in mystery since its initial announcement, but now it looks like we may know more about the source material that will play into the story. Specifically, it seems like the film may pay homage to The Killing Joke by focusing on its titular villain as a failed funnyman in the 1980s.

According to a new report from The Wrap, it sounds like Todd Philips' Joker origin movie is aiming to frame the comic book bad guy with a somewhat tragic past. Specifically, this report states that The Clown Prince of Crime will be a failed 1980s comedian and that he will turn to a life of crime sometime after bombing with an audience. Such a premise naturally invokes memories of Alan Moore's 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke, which similarly presented a possible origin for The Joker by showing him as a failed stand-up who goes insane after "one bad day" ruins his life and ends with him accidentally taking a dip in acid at ACE Chemicals, as seen below.

It's not particularly surprising to learn that Todd Philips' Joker story might be aiming to do something in the vein of The Killing Joke. Alan Moore's text has become widely regarded as one of the most influential and iconic Batman stories ever written, and the comedian/acid bath origin has become the go-to Joker origin story across a wide variety of media. Beyond that, The Killing Joke has inspired several cinematic projects over the years, providing DNA to Tim Burton's Batman and David Ayer's Suicide Squad. It was also was directly adapted as an R-rated animated movie.

Bringing The Killing Joke into the equation also makes sense when we consider the non-DCEU status of the movie. The Joker origin film will take place outside of the current canon and timeline, which means it's free to explore the DC canon with little concern about movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice or Justice League. Similarly, while The Killing Joke is not quite an Elseworlds tale and its fallout did eventually go on to become canon in DC Comics, many fans still regard it as a standalone story with an ambiguous ending. If that's how the movie turns out, then all bets are off, and anything can happen.

Having said that, we still don't know much about how this movie could play with the core Killing Joke narrative. It's unclear if Batman or The Bat Family will appear, which means it might not focus on the contemporary storyline in which Joker paralyzes Barbara Gordon and tries to drive Commissioner Gordon insane. Moreover, while Joaquin Phoenix still stands as the frontrunner for the role, he has not officially confirmed anything yet.

As of right now, the Killing Joke-inspired Joker movie is aiming to begin production sometime this year, though rumored rewrites could prevent that from happening. For now, make sure to keep an eye on the DCEU when James Wan's Aquaman premieres in theaters later this year on December 21.

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Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.