The highly anticipated Joker film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival on 31 August, received extremely positive reviews from critics and received an 8-minute standing ovation from the audience. The film is directed by Todd Phillips and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beets, and Robert De Niro. Phoenix starred as Arthur Fleck, a failed comedian who descent into insanity while being ignored and ridiculed by society, eventually becoming the Joker.
This standalone Joker film stands out from the rest of the DC Extended Universe, which means it shares no relations to the DCEU. Warner Bros, which owns DC Comics and Films, is to release the film into cinemas on 3 October 2019. Here are five facts you need to know about the film before watching it.
1. Joaquin Phoenix lost a lot of weight for the role
Having been nominated and won awards for his previous roles, Phoenix is known for his method acting practice, among them learning to play a guitar from scratch in 2005’s Walk the Line. It received 5 Academy Award nominations the following year.
In preparation for the role of Arthur Fleck, a failed comedian suffering from mental illness, he lost a huge amount of weight. During the Venice Film Festival, he said that he lost 52 pounds (23 kilos) for the role, drastically transforming him physically to the point he started to go “mad”. And if that wasn’t enough, he imitated the Joker’s laugh by looking at videos of mental patients laughing and researching mental conditions. That’s some serious dedication to the role there!
2. It is not based on ANY Joker comic book
The Joker will not be your average comic book film as it is NOT based on a comic book. Instead, it will be focused heavily on the characters, particularly that of the Joker. This means that the film will be heavily character-driven.
In an interview with Empire Magazine, director Todd Phillips said that they wrote their own version of the Joker. This means that we will be getting a full, original story of the Joker.
3. Not Part of the DCEU
After Justice League’s box office bomb and disappointment in 2017, Warner Bros. (which owned DC) focused on standalone DCEU films, focusing on Aquaman and Shazam!, which were critical and commercial success. When the teaser for the Joker dropped in April 2019, many were in doubt as it was separated from the DCEU.
One of the reasons in this standalone film is that it allows DC to come up with unique and creative stories that are not restrained by rules of a shared universe. This means that this film would have no effect on the Joker played by Jared Leto in the DCEU.
The film’s launch, according to director Todd Phillips, is expected to create a DC BLACK, with darker, experimental films that are grounded, no CGI, budget $30 million as a way to differentiate from the rival Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
4. Director Spent a Year Convincing Studio to give an R- Rating
Given the context from the teaser and trailer, it is without a doubt that Joker had been given a hard “R” rating by the MPAA for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language, and brief sexual images. It is not very often for a superhero film to be given an “R” rating and it’s seldom, with the exception of Deadpool and Joker.
This wouldn’t have been possible if director Todd Phillips hadn’t continuously convinced Warner Bros. execs to give him a pass to be R rated for a “dark and edgy comic book movie”. What convinced the studio to give him the pass was the film budget of $55 million – far lower than any DC films produced.
5. A Break of Patterns
Known for directing comedic movies, such as The Hangover Trilogy, Due Date and Borat, Joker is one of the first genres he directs that does not fall under comedy. His films have won and been nominated for numerous awards, among them, A Star is Born, which won numerous accolades at the 91st Academy Award.
With his comedic directions, we’re left wondering whether there could be some comedic moments in the Joker film, albeit be light, subtle or dark.