Since it was announced, it's been hard to know what to feel about Todd Phillips' Joker origin film. On the one hand it seems unnecessary, with the Solo: A Star Wars Story problem that no one was asking for a story about how this character came to be. On the other hand it is separate from the DCEU, and Joaquin Phoenix is involved. As such, the fanbase has been in a state of skepticism and intrigue with this film. Fans aren't the only ones with mixed feelings about it either. Writer Scott Snyder has been writing comics for the better part of a decade for both Marvel and DC-- with tons of Batman stories under his belt. So he's something of an authority on the topic of the Joker. The Batman writer shared his blunt opinion on Todd Phillips' Joker, saying:
I feel like it SHOULDN'T work and yet...I'm genuinely crazy excited for it. It seems daring, weird and dark in a way that could be visionary. In the end, the worst offense w/Joker would be playing it safe, boring, so I'm all in for something like this.
Scott Snyder's opinion, while blunt, seems to echo the opinions of some fans. His sentiment towards the Joaquin Phoenix film is one of trepidation and skepticism that, against all logic, is overridden by curiosity and excitement. This is a man who has written plenty of Batman stories, and initially seems to believe a Joker origin story shouldn't work. That is far from an uncommon belief, with the best iteration of the character, Heath Ledger's enigmatic mad dog, keeping nothing in his pockets but knives and lint. So showing his origin and dispelling the mystery opens the door, and could easily go wrong. And yet the prospect of this film is also what makes it so intriguing.
As Scott Snyder says on Twitter, this film is daring by its definition, which is extremelyexciting. The fact that Joker is separate from the DCEU presumably gives it a level of freedom, with the story and the character to do something we haven't seen before. That Todd Phillips' vision was compelling enough to get talent like Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro to star in a comic book movie also leads one to believe that this movie will not be playing it safe. Those factors and the comparisons to Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy mean that, like Scott Snyder says, Joker seems like it will be weird and dark and hopefully visionary.
We got our first taste of that vision yesterday with a look at Joaquin Phoenix in makeup for a camera test for the film. We don't know for sure if this is just Arthur Fleck's clown makeup, pre-Joker transformation or not, but already you can get a sense of how different this might be from what we are used to. Whether it will work remains to be seen, but it is clear that Todd Phillips and company will not be playing it safe.
Joker opens in theaters on October 4, 2019. For movies hitting theaters a bit sooner, check out our 2018 release schedule.