Joker is the kind of movie whose behind-the-scenes drama rivals what we got to see onscreen. Amidst director Todd Phillips’ repeated courting of controversy with his comments during the press tour for the film, tales of lead actor Joaquin Phoenix’s eccentric behavior on the set of the production and public outcry against the message of the story for fear that it would inspire copycats, now comes a new article by The Hollywood Reporter which reveals that the producers tried to abort the project before it ever began.
The executives at Warner Bros. who greenlit the origin movie for the Clown Prince of Crime were initially skeptical of the whole undertaking, due to the nature of the story, bereft of Batman and all the usual trappings of a superhero film. They were also nervous about the excessively dark tone of the storyline. Because of such concerns, Joker was given a very small budget, much less than a work of such dimensions requires, with the hope that it would discourage Phillips from pursuing the project further and end the movie at conception.
Of course, Jared Leto was another person involved in Warner Bros.’ DCEU who was reportedly extremely opposed to the film getting made, since he’d been promised that he’d get to play Joker in a standalone flick if he agreed to appear in Suicide Squad in what ultimately amounted to little more than a glorified cameo. When he first learned of Phoenix playing the role in an origin movie, he made his displeasure known to everyone at Warner Bros. and even tried to have the project nixed, but to no avail.
Despite all these obstacles, the film was made and became a massive success on release, with the R-rated feature projected to cross $700 million at the box office. It seems that once again, the Joker has had the last laugh and we couldn’t be happier about it.