The Marvel Cinematic Universe has proved to be one of the biggest and most unstoppable franchises in cinematic history. Nearly two dozen films into its run and the super hero films crank out interconnected hit after interconnected hit, each seeming to earn praise from both fans and critics alike. On the other side of it is DC Comics, which have been a little bit less successful in building a shared universe on the big screen. While movies such as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad have managed to make money at the box office, their theatrical cuts haven't exactly been fan-favorites. As a result, DC seems to have found their stride in making individualized films which will be emphasized more than before with the upcoming Joker.
According to Joker director Todd Phillips, this was the exact line of thinking when creating the mad villain's unique film which exists in its own disconnected world. “You can’t beat Marvel — it’s a giant behemoth,” Phillips said. “Let’s do something they can’t do.”
Furthermore, Phillips crafted not only an isolated film free of ties to a larger world unlike Marvel's movies, but he also created an R-rated thriller which offers intense scenarios and darker themes than any from the competitor.
“You want to root for this guy until you can’t root for him any longer,” Phillips explained of his titular character, one which descends into madness and violence.
Joker star Joaquin Phoenix is admittedly a comic book fan, having turned down the role of Doctor Strange in the MCU years ago but ultimately opts not to clarify exactly why he did this. “I don’t really care about genre or budget size, anything like that,” Phoenix said. “It’s just whether there is a filmmaker that has a unique vision.”
Joker has few ties to any comic book film other than names like Thomas Wayne (and, of course, Bruce Wayne who grows up to be Batman) or the city of Gotham. The film is very much a character study which creates its own story for Arthur Fleck and could have very well operated under the title of Arthur just as well. “It’s just another interpretation, like people do interpretations of Macbeth,” Phillips explained. His biggest inspirations for the movie came from titles like Taxi Driver, Death Wish, and Kings of Comedy.
Joker was given a perfect score in ComicBook.com's official review, in addition to being called a "masterpiece."
Joker hits theaters on October 4.