As a DC fanatic, I was totally hyped for a Joker standalone – movie producers always seem committed to the belief that you can’t have the Joker without Batman and vice versa, which means the stories can get a little bit stretched as they try to come up with new ways to interact the characters. Suicide Squad just about scraped it with a brief but thrilling encounter between the two, but that wasn’t enough to save the film from the destruction brought about by its tedious writing.
I was okay with Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, but I’m still of the mind that we haven’t seen the best Joker yet. When Phoenix was cast, I was both thrilled and sceptical – although he will always have a place in my heart for his Oscar-winning performance as Johnny Cash, my grandfather’s favourite musician – as I felt as though he was too pretty and too serious to play the Clown Prince of Crime.
But after seeing the film, I have to admit that Phoenix has more than earned the acclaim that adoring DC fans have bestowed upon him.
Despite loving the film, I personally would rather there wasn’t, and there are other fans that feel the same. One of the reasons why Joker worked as a film was because it served as a perfect standalone with a definitive beginning, middle and end.
Without spoiling it for those that haven’t seen it, Joker presents a veteran audience with an origin story worthy of Alan Moore’s legendary Killing Joke, melting down all the mythological aspects of the Joker’s genesis to create a believable and interesting hybrid. For those new to the character – although, let’s be honest, that’s unlikely – the film introduces the world’s most famous supervillain with a simple yet haunting story of how ‘one bad day’ can ruin a person’s mental state forever, without any real need to see how far the character can go.
Nevertheless, Todd Phillips has suggested that there is no reason a sequel shouldn’t be optioned should Phoenix fancy giving it a second go.
Gushing with admiration for his lead actor, Phillips said: ‘I would do anything with Joaquin, any day of the week.
‘There’s nobody like him. If he was willing to do it, and if people show up to this movie, and Warner came to us and said, “You know what? If you guys could think of something …” Well, I have a feeling that he and I could think of something pretty cool.’
Phillips has clarified that there are no current plans to produce a sequel, but if there were, it would ultimately require Phoenix’s consent. According to reports, Phoenix experienced personal difficulties with the depths he went into to get the character just right, similar to Heath Ledger in 2008’s The Dark Knight before his untimely death. If true, Phoenix would need to make sure that he was willing to go down that dark road again just to please hungry fans of the first film.
‘The movie’s not set up to [have] a sequel,’ said Phillips.
‘We always pitched it as one movie, and that’s it.
‘What we’re trying to do with this film is do something entirely different from the comic book movies that have come before. And not because those aren’t cool but just because we want to try something different. But this won’t be the last Joker movie ever made. Something tells me that in 10 years someone else is going to do something.’
Phoenix has reportedly turned down roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe due to his opposition to appearing in more than one film, which is understandable due to how mind-numbing the appearance of every single character ever cast in the MCU in Avengers: Endgame was.
However, this would not stop another production incorporating the lore of Joker into another DC movie. Phillips was quick to point out that Joker does not take place within the established DC Extended Universe, which makes him different to Jared Leto’s version in Suicide Squad. It could be the case that another Joker-centric movie continues the canon of Joker in an indirect sequel/spin-off, but more likely that they will just leave it a standalone and begin again.
Continuously rebooting the character would in fact be more in-keeping with the mythology of the comics. The Joker does not have a definitive origin, as highlighted in The Killing Joke where flashbacks present the reader with a backstory of the Joker as a failed comedian who got dropped by Batman into a vat of chemicals, only to reveal at the end that this is potentially not even the true story.
As the Joker quips, ‘If I’m going to have a past, I’d prefer it to be multiple choice!’
The ending of Joker suggests that this sentiment rings true throughout the film, too.
Despite the failure of the DCEU, Joker does open up the floor to a potential rebooting of the entire franchise. Matt Reeves’s Batman film starring Robert Pattinson will likely be estranged from the Batfleck of BvS and Justice League, so it’s up to the writers if they want to reference Arthur Fleck’s revolution at the end of Joker.
If you had to ask me, ‘will there be a crossover with Joker and R. Patts’ Batman?’ I’d say, probably not.
Until we know more, we at least have the safety net of the comics to fuel speculation as to when and how we will see the Joker again. There is a storyline in the comics that is still yet to be completed, in which Batman discovers that there is not one but three different Jokers terrorising him at different times in his life, which would likely be a hot topic for film adaptation once the book has been released.
I know. Three Jokers. One could be played by Phoenix, the other by Leto. Who knows, maybe Jack Nicholson will come back as the original …
What a time to be a DC fan.
Images via DC
Max is an awkward Medievalist struggling with ever evolving technology. When not writing for The Hook, he can be found attending self-help classes for his decade-long addiction to KFC. His greatest achievements include getting blocked by Owen Jones on Twitter and completing the Metro quick crossword in just under twenty-seven hours.Follow