Joker Director Todd Phillips Aimed to Leave Audiences Speechless

It's no secret by now that critics are loving Joker. The film is getting widely praised, including in ComicBook.com's official review. However, after watching the film, it requires a good bit of thought from audiences as the many twists and mysteries set in on a moviegoer's mind in the aftermath of the dark experience. Director Todd Phillips admits, leaving moviegoers to process what they have watched without much of an ability to form words over it was part of his goal for Joker.

"I find it difficult to talk immediately after, a lot of films, this film in particular for me," Phillips said. "I found that as we've shown it to people, even when I just bring somebody to the editing room and show it to a friend, a film maker friend, whoever. And then you go, and it's over, and then, they need time, a little bit, to sort of process it honestly in a way." He accomplishes his mission, as the minutes, hours, days, and weeks that followed for those that watched Joker ahead of its release has left them forming new opinions and thoughts about it.

For Phillips, leaving audiences speechless based on the requirement of processing the film is a satisfying bonus. "I always enjoy movies that are difficult to speak about right after," Phillips said. "You go 'You know, I want to process this a little bit.' I always find those to be particularly rewarding in a way. It's not like that was a specific goal, but it is something that I always enjoy about movies, where you can't necessarily distill it down into a one line thing really simply. So, yeah, I suppose it was somewhat of a goal."

The movie dives deep into mental illness impacting the titular Joker character, whose real name is Arthur Fleck. Furthermore, it dives into how such an illness can be affected by the dividing of social classes which began to peak in the early 1980s, the apparent setting of the movie, which also sets the film apart from other titles which audiences might associate it with.

"For us, we never say in the movie it's 1981, but we always say, 'It's late seventies early eighties,' mainly because we don't want people to be like 'Wow that car wasn't out in 1979', so late seventies early eighties," Phillips explained. "But the time for me, the reason we set it there, well there's a lot of reasons. One reason was to separate it quite frankly, from the DC universe. When I pitched to Warner Brothers, and handed the script in, to sort of make it clear, this isn't f---ing with anything you have going on. This is like a separate universe. So much so, it takes place in the past, before everything else."

While Joker is unlike any of the other DC Comics movies which share an interconnected universe, it does share similarities with other real world movies which came out around the time period of its fictional setting.

"Another reason is because tonally, the movie is very much a character study that, I'm a little older than you, the same as the movies we grew up on and loved," the director said. "You go, 'God, those movies don't get made as much anymore.' They get made, these character studies. Social Network is a great one. There Will Be Blood is probably the best and the last twenty years character study. But in the the seventies and eighties, they where much more frequent. So, in a weird way it was also just an homage to that time. We are making a movie that feels like that, why not just set it there. It was not some really great thing, it was just a few reasons, and part of the reason that every film maker likes to do things period, is so that you don't have deal with f---ing technology in movies, because it's so frustrating. 'Well, if they have a cell phone that gets solved!'"

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Joker hits theaters on October 4.