If the early reviews are to be believed, Joker is a weird and wonderful movie that’s as disturbing as it is entertaining. Like Venom, it follows a villain. Unlike Venom, it sounds like it’s earned its hard R rating, taking a trip into madness with extremely violent consequences.
It’s about as far from an MCU movie as it’s possible to get, which was always director Todd Phillips’ intention.
“You can’t beat Marvel – it’s a giant behemoth,” he told The New York Times. Let’s do something they can’t do.”
The risk appears to have paid off, with Joker winning the prestigious Golden Lion award at Venice, which is seen to be an indicator for Oscar success (previous winners include The Shape Of Water and Roma).
And with the film also predicted to beat Venom’s record October opening weekend, it could be the start of a wider shift in approach for Warner Brothers’ DC movies.
That’s because Phillips didn’t just pitch Joker to the studio, but a series of smaller, stand-alone DC films that could also work as MCU alternatives.
“It’s just another interpretation, like people do interpretations of Macbeth,” Philips said.
Still, don’t tell Joaquin Phoenix the movie could potentially be part of a new brand – he had a hard enough time connecting with the comic-book stuff in this one.
“He never liked saying the name Thomas Wayne,” Phillips said. “It would have been easier for him if the movie was called ‘Arthur’ and had nothing to do with any of that stuff. But in the long run, I think he got it and appreciated it.”
But at least he doesn’t have to worry about being part of ‘Joker Vs Batman Vs Superman.’
When asked if Phoenix will face-off against Robert Pattinson’s Batman, Phillips told Variety: “No, definitely not.”
It’s an approach that feels close to DC’s approach to their comic-book line, which frequently include ‘Elseworlds’ tales that take their iconic characters in wild directions. Marvel Comics, meanwhile, finds success from crossover events, that bring lots of different titles together into one story.
So, by staying faithful to the original comics, maybe Warner Brothers is being more like Marvel Studios than Phillips realises. And it could be the secret to future success. Either way, it’ll probably put a smile on your face.
Joker is in UK cinemas on October 4.