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On the surface, director Todd Phillips' Joker is an unusual creature. Separate from the DC Extended Universe, the 1980s-set movie will see Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck transitioning from slightly unhinged to career criminal in clown makeup, and from what's been revealed so far, Batman won't play any role in this origin story. However, Joker isn't completely ignoring its roots, as evidenced by the map of Gotham City below, which is chock full of Batman and other DC Comics references.
If you simply glance at this map of Gotham City and its subway system from the Joker set (passed along by @UberKryptonian), it looks relatively normal, right? Upon closer inspection, though, Joker's version of Gotham City has a lot of areas named after both characters from the DC Comics mythology and individuals who have been influential in the DC realm. Let's start with some of examples based on fictional people first. There's a Wayne Avenue, of course referring to the Wayne Family, and there's also Kane County in the left hand corner, referring to Martha Wayne's side of the family. There's also an Otisburg, which I'm hoping is a nod to Lex Luthor's inept henchman Otis from Superman: The Movie. Fans will also recognize the Amusement Mile district, home of the amusement park where The Killing Joke took place.
As for real life people who've inspired areas of Joker's Gotham City, the most obvious example is the Snyder district, which is likely referring to DCEU director Zack Snyder, although I'd like to think it doubles as a call to Scott Snyder, whose Death of the Family and Endgame arcs are among the best Joker stories of the modern era. There's also Nolan Lane for Dark Knight trilogy director Christopher Nolan and Prince Street for the late, same-named musical artist who added some pop energy to the 1989 Batman movie. These are just a few of the name drops we caught when looking at the map, so feel free to share any others you spotted in the comments below.
Clearly Joker has not trouble dropping these subtle Easter eggs, but as far as direct DC Comics connections go, those are few and far between. In fact, outside of the Clown Prince of Crime himself (whose civilian identity is one never used before), the only character from the comics set to appear in the movie is Brett Cullen's Thomas Wayne, who is being depicted less sympathetically than usual. Joker's main cast also includes Robert de Niro as a talk show host who plays an integral role in Arthur Fleck turning to crime, Zazie Beetz as a cynical single mother who becomes Fleck's love interest, Frances Conroy as Arthur's mother Penny and Marc Maron as a booking agent on de Niro's character's show.
Joker will be released in theaters on October 4, 2019. As for what's heading to theaters for the remainder of this year, check out our 2018 release schedule.