All you need to know going into Todd Philips’ ‘Joker’ movie


Gotham’s ‘Clown Prince of Crime’, The Ace of Knaves, Mistah J, The ‘yin’ to Batman’s ‘yang’; there are a bunch of ways you can use to refer to this antagonist but the standard name of course is, The Joker. So often we have seen him terrorize Gotham and it’s residents in t.v series and in movies as he constantly gets into physical and psychological fights with a certain vigilante. However, what happens when you take Batman out of the equation and focus on the origins of this revered comic book character? Well, we are about to find out come October of this year when Todd Philip’s Joker hits theaters.


First announced in August of 2017, the film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beats, Frances Conroy, among others, and follows Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian who is driven insane and turns to a life of crime and chaos in the City of Gotham. That said, let’s delve into all you need to know coming into the movie.



If, for some reason, you went and to this movie’s screening expecting to see D.C’s household names like Aquaman, Flash,Wonder Woman or even Batman particularly the versions from the D.C.E.U, then you’ll be in for a disappointing time. According to various reliable reports, the intention of Warner Bros. for the upcoming Joker film is to have it launch DC Black, a series of DC-based films completely separate from the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). So basically what I am trying to say is that there is no point in waiting up for D.C.E.U-related mid or post credit scenes when the movie ends to tie Joker’s origin story to the current film franchise.



Known primarily for directing comedy-genre flicks i.e the Hangover movies, Road Trip, Due Date and War Dogs, it’s safe to say Todd Philips is indeed venturing into new territory with Joker; a psychological thriller film about a comic book character. Nevertheless, Philip’s lack of experience in tackling the specific genre should not be a deterrent for any audience member who’d want to see the movie.


I mean, Christopher Nolan came into Batman Begins having only directed three thriller-styled films in Following, Memento and Insomnia but look at how popular the Dark knight franchise came to be. Based on the largely positive reception that the marketing material for Joker has received so far, audiences seem to connect with Philip’s storytelling style that focuses on character build-up and perhaps, when all is said and done, this will turn out to be his ultimate legacy film that movie lovers will remember him for in years to come. Kind of like Frank Darabont and The Shawshank Redemption.



Billionaire physician and philanthropist Thomas Wayne, is seldom shown outside of Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth‘s memories of him, and often through Bruce’s dreams and nightmares; most notably his murder in a dark alley alongside his wife Martha. In the upcoming Joker flick however, he will feature considerably in the narrative as he will be in the running for Mayor of Gotham City; a retcon approach to the character who has mostly been depicted as a doctor and a philanthropist in various media. The character is played by Brett Cullen who returns to the Batman world having portrayed Byron Gilley in The Dark Knight Rises, a U.S. congressman who is kidnapped on Harvey Dent Day by Selina Kyle.


As of now, ‘Joker’ is meant to be a standalone film with no planned sequels. Regardless, this could change based on the overall reception that the movie gets once its cinematic run ends at around December or January and more importantly for Warner Bros., how much money it makes at the Box Office.



When it comes to top-notch comic book related films, the film studios producing them have rarely spared any expense in the budget allocations over the years even when aspects like inflation are factored in. With a budget of just $55 Million, ‘Joker’ is just $7 Million shy of being the lowest budgeted comic book related movie in recent times after Jonah Hex ($47Million) which was released almost 10 years ago.


A low budget film can be looked at from 2 perspectives. First, the studio wanting to spend less money on a film project that needs a lot more money to produce and therefore invest in less qualified crew and less expensive sets. On the other hand, we have a film studio spending less money on a film because it doesn’t need a big budget in the first place but has incredible potential from a narrative perspective to make large profits.

‘Joker’, I believe, falls in the latter category because it’s a simple movie with a character-driven plot that doesn’t need heavy VFX shots or upper echelon actors who will demand for outrageous salaries, no offence to the cast. If the overwhelming successes of films like 1978’s Halloween and 2016’s Split is anything to go by, Todd Philip’s forthcoming movie might just follow in their footsteps.

-Thomas Kitinya

(Imagery courtesy of Warner Bros.)

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