Mr. J’s about to get his own starring vehicle in Todd Phillips’ Joker solo movie, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the man who’ll become the Clown Prince of Crime. Set outside of the regular DC cinematic universe, the film will have the freedom to tell whatever kind of origins story it wants for this version of the villain, and evidence suggests it’s going to take inspiration from the most iconic exploration of the Joker’s origins there is: Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel The Killing Joke.
With production having just begun in New York, leaked set photos have revealed our first look at Phoenix in action. Among other things, we can work out from these pics that his character – whose real name is Arthur Fleck, an original moniker for the movie – will be trying out for a comedy talent agency called Ha-Ha’s Talent Booking. This closely mirrors the down-on-his-luck failed comedian Jack from Moore’s story.
A more concrete callback to The Killing Joke can be found in the the location of Ha-Ha’s. It’s in Amusement Mile, the name of the derelict amusement park where the Joker hatches his big scheme to turn Commissioner Gordon insane at the end of the comic. Given its importance to the original story, it’s hard to say whether the setting will feature as a minor easter egg for fans or whether it’ll be home to a similar psychological showdown to the source material.
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All that being said, it’s worth remembering that the Joker flick is likely to be less inspired by DC comics and more by the works of Martin Scorsese, the acclaimed filmmaker who’s attached as producer. Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The King of Comedy have all been cited as influences on Todd direction and script, which he co-wrote with Scott Silver.
Joker also stars Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Robert De Niro (!) and Brett Cullen as Thomas Wayne, a part that was set to be played by Alec Baldwin before he dropped out. It’s due to leap into a vat of chemicals – sorry, cinemas – on October 4th, 2019.