The DC live-action universe went through some growing pains during its early stages, although Warner Bros. seems to have found its rhythm recently. Rather than crossover-heavy ensemble projects, DC has been releasing director driven movies that solely focus on one protagonist. This is a method that worked out for Shazam! and Aquaman, and likely factored into the development of Todd Phillips' Joker.
Joker will break new ground for the franchise, as a movie that is disconnected from the larger shared universe. It will also give the titular Gotham City villain a true origin story, something that is typically lacking in his appearances on the screen and page. Into the Spider-Verse actor Brian Tyree Henry has a mysterious role in Todd Phillips' upcoming movie, and teased that the Joker will handle its protagonist different than other iterations. As he put it:
I think it’s going to be very different because it really goes into just the origin story. Villains are never born that way, they’re made. There’s something that happens in their lives that they give up their faith in humanity; they see the flaws of humanity and mankind and feel like they must correct it. And what happens with Joker is you start to see how he really was a happy person. He really was trying to find this…hope in humanity until it broke him down and he just had to give up and reshape it.
Well, that certainly doesn't sound like Mr J's typical onscreen MO. Rather than simply being an agent of chaos, Joker will give the title character a fleshed out back story, and reasoning for becoming the villain we all love to hate.
Brian Tyree Henry's comments to Observer may cause a mixed back of emotions for DC fans out there. The Joker is one of the most iconic villains in comic book history, so he seems like a great character to give an origin story to. There are Bat-fans out there who want to get as much Joker related content as possible, despite the character recently being portrayed by Heath Ledger and Jared Leto recently.
But there are also hardcore comic book fans who may take umbrage with the Joker's story being truly explored in the upcoming DC movie. Part of what makes the iconic Batman rogue so terrifying is that there is no rhyme or reason to his actions. He's typically an anarchist, who is content with nothing but dismantling society and seeing Gotham City burn.
That's certainly how Heath Ledger played Joker in The Dark Knight. The performance was so strong that Ledger won an posthumous Oscar for his performance. That version had a different story for his scars for every time it came up, highlighting that there was no regular human consciousness in the character. So Joker seems like a big change from what we've previously expected from The Clown Prince of Crime.
Joker will arrive in theaters on October 4th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.