It could be argued that the comic book movie genre has become somewhat saturated over the years. With so many releases in the MCU, it can be difficult for one film to stand up and be counted. And in a recent interview with Deadline, this is exactly what Joker director Todd Phillips says motivated his critically-acclaimed origin story.
During their discussion, Phillips stated that Joker was a direct response to the current trend of comic book adaptations. As more and more Marvel titles hit theaters, he said he was concerned about films trying to “cut through the noise,” so he used inspiration from 70s and 80s directors, such as Martin Scorses (Taxi Driver) and Milos Forman (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest), to craft a unique tale.
“I just was thinking about, really, quite frankly, the state of the movie business, and how movies that do cut through the noise. We all make movies and they’re far too difficult and expensive to be a hobby,” the director said on Deadline’s Behind the Lens. “The reason you do them is to get people to see them, and it’s hard to deny that comic book movies have kind of taken over, as far as the theatrical experience has gone. So I just thought, maybe there’s a way to use that, and do something a little bit different.”
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Phillips also admits the film is “not for everybody,” especially as most comic book movies tend to be aimed at PG-13 audiences. Apparently, he originally pitched a different idea to Warner Bros. before honing in on the Joker we all know today. Many of us will probably wonder what would have become of his original incarnation, but we’ll probably never find out.
In any case, there’s no doubt the director wanted to create a more disturbing experience than comic book fans are used to, but neither he nor the studio could have anticipated just how huge it would become, to the point where Warner Bros. were concerned that the pic might spark real world violence.
Obviously, that didn’t happen and Todd Phillips’ Joker is now a global hit, Recently it became the first R-rated movie to reach $1 billion worldwide and unsurprisingly, a sequel’s reportedly on the way, with Joaquin Phoenix returning to play the titular protagonist. Will it be as successful as the first outing, though? Time will tell, but at least Phillips and his team can rest easy now knowing their huge risk paid off.