Joker will be taking the bold approach of giving Batman's nemesis an official origin film. However, many mainstream moviegoers are only now becoming aware that the movie exists (thanks to recent release of the Joker trailer in theaters).
That awareness has once again sparked confusion about how this Joker origin film fits into the larger DC movie franchise. Dedicated fans have known all along that DC and Warner Bros. were using Joker as an experiment in making concept-driven standalone films, by director Todd Phillips is once again having to clarify the matter for those causal moviegoers scratching their heads over how there's yet another buzzed-about Joker performance hitting movie screens.
"It's not really connected to that [DC Movie] Universe," Phillips told the crowd at a Q&A for Joker during the Toronto International Film Festival. "And it was really intentionally not. I mean the original idea when I went to [Warner Bros.] with the idea was not just about one movie, but about a label - sort of a side label to DC, where you can do these kind of character study, low-rent, low-budget movies, where you get a filmmaker to come in and do some deep dive into a character. So it was never meant to connect, so I don't see it connecting to anything in the future. I think this is just this movie, you know?"
Again, this statement isn't really news to the DC die-hards who have been following Joker since the film was announced, and before a single frame of footage was shot. But thanks to the convoluted nature of the DC Movie Universe, it's no surprise that casual fans are confused. There's a Suicide Squad reboot and Batman reboot both in the works - both of which could have space for Joker; not to mention a Joker / Harley film that was announced (only to die off).
As we discussed on the latest episode of the ComicBook Nation podcast, the real test here is not what Phillips initially intended, but rather what happens if Joker is a big success. It's in keeping with Warner Bros. history to try to milk franchise money out of a successful film, and Phillips has already hinted that he and Joaquin Phoenix have Joker sequel ideas in mind. If Matt Reeves The Batman is similarly successful, then it seems inevitable that casual filmgoers end up clamoring for a crossover between Phoenix's Joker and Robert Pattinson's Batman - which in turn will restart this discussion of DC standalones vs shared universe films, all over again.
Upcoming DC movies include Joker on October 4th, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) on February 7, 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020, The Batman on June 25, 2021, The Suicide Squad on August 6, 2021, and Aquaman 2 on December 16, 2022.