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Of all the various projects that DC is currently working on, none have raised quite as many eyebrows as the Joker origin story movie. The film is not connected to the current DC film universe and it's being described as a gritty and grounded take on the early days of the Clown Prince of Crime. It seems like a curious decision to be sure, but one prominent voice in pop culture has come to its defense. Kevin Smith thinks the studio is going about making the movie the right way. According to Smith...
I think what they're doing is smart. This is a cheap movie, it's $55 million. They're not spending --- $55 [million] for a comic book property? That's very inexpensive. They're going Logan model, which is keep it low-budget and make it more adult.
It's certainly true that $55 million for a comic book property is almost nothing. It's a fraction of what your average comic book movie would cost. From a studio standpoint, which is what Kevin Smith is specifically talking about here, he's not wrong. By only backrolling a fairly inexpensive movie, the studio isn't risking nearly as much. The Joker movie doesn't actually need to be the blockbuster success that every other comic book movie needs to be in order to be profitable.
The comparison to Logan might also be an apt one. That movie, all things considered, went light on the more traditional superhero elements of the X-Men movies, retractable claws notwithstanding, and was, by far, the most positively received in the franchise. Of course, that movie did have over a decade of history behind it, and while the Joker as a character has decades of history on the page and the screen, this particular story will be unconnected to all of it.
The movie may be much less of a risk than it might otherwise seem. Which is not to say it's not still a risk. Smith also says during his recent Hollywood Babble-On Podcast that, whether or not the new Joker movie, which will star Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role, turns out to be great, it's great to see Warner Bros. trying something new and different. Since a lot of people have taken issue with the recent run of DC movies, this project could end up being part of the solution.
They're experimenting. You gotta applaud 'em for this. Everyone's always shitting on Warner Bros. going, 'You're fucking up your movies!' And like, this is them trying a new direction where they're like, 'Look, obviously the extended universe stuff we're having a problem with. How about we just go back to the old way, which we used to do, where we just fuckin' take material, give it to a director, and say fuckin' go, and we don't worry about a fanbase and connecting the movies.
Just how good the new Joker movie will actually be remains to be seen, but certainly, we should all wait and see what happens before passing judgment. There's no reason the movie can't be good.