It has been a busy year for comic book movies, from the biggest movie of all-time to Spider-Man’s swan song in the MCU (maybe). Yet, there’s one hotly anticipated film from Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix left on the 2019 slate. The final Joker trailer dropped today, showcasing the burgeoning Clown Prince of Crime’s origin in a movie that stays mostly divorced from comic book lore. Also, with the more clips and images released from the film, it shows that the script leaked online a while back is authentic. We won’t divulge any spoilers, but what this means is that Joker will be a controversial film among the comics faithful.
In fairness to Phillips, he spoke often in the run-up to release about how this movie is his own take on the character. While some elements are naturally drawn from the comics, like the Joker working as a struggling comic, much of Phillips’ story is original. Both the early 1980s setting and the general sense of malaise in the film draws from the pre-Star Wars cinema of the time. Crime runs rampant. The “elites” talk like they care but don’t suffer the effects of the systemic problems. Perhaps the most controversial thing this movie attempts to do is justify a “normal” man’s transformation into a super-criminal.
The Joker Is an Agent of Chaos
Image via Warner Bros.
With nearly 80 years of history behind the Joker, many versions of him exist. (Including, apparently, three distinct individuals using the Joker name in current DC continuity.) Also, with legendary performances of the character turned in by greats like Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger, a new take on Joker makes sense. Yet, that is part of what makes the Joker so appealing as a villain. Unlike most of baddies, his motivations are not tied to any one thing. The Joker simply wants, as Michael Caine’s Alfred so put it, “watch the world burn.” He also likes to vex the Batman, though that’s less relevant to this film. With a character like that, a definitive origin story demystifies the character in a way that fans might not really appreciate.
So, this film being tantamount to a DC Elseworlds one-shot is a good thing. It allows a fresh take on a compelling character, without binding future stories to its narrative. This version of Joker will be demystified (perhaps even, slightly, declawed), but the previous and subsequent versions remain unaffected by this story. This film will be an emotional, psychological character study of a man’s journey into depravity. Is he the true Joker or just the man that inspired the Joker of the future? The great thing about this standalone movie is you can make that answer anything you want it to be.
Watch the final Joker trailer below:
What did you think? Are you excited for this movie? Tell us in the comments below or by sharing the article on social media.
All images via screengrab
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.