Joker Director Compares the Film to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven"

Anticipation continues to steadily build for Joker as that October opening weekend draws closer and closer. The early returns for the film note the very deliberate pace of Joker, and it turns out a legendary rock song has a lot to do with that stylistic choice. Todd Phillips sat down with's Jim Viscardi for an interview during the press tour for the film.

When you think of The Joker as a character, the first thing to come to mind probably isn't "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin. But, for the director, these sort of classic rock epics were a significant source of inspiration heading into the movie. Does that explain that staircase that features so heavily in the trailers and promotional images? Probably not, but the coincidence makes a whole lot of sense after watching the interview featured above.

CB: This movie is such a fun, wild ride. As a comic fan, I was watching it like something that you read in issues. Issue after issue after issue, and then, you know towards the end of the arc, you’re gonna get your big climax. How important was the pacing of this movie for you?

"Really important. i described it as a great rock and roll song, “Stairway to Heaven” or something," Phillips began. "This kind of slow build, the movie is a slow burn, and it builds to something. The way great old rock songs -of that same era by the way- did. And so, yeah, I mean the slow burn of it is intentional. You know the movie’s unsettling intentionally, and it’s meant to sort of be that pace, you know what I mean? Pace in every movie is really important, and always really intentional."

Audiences obviously agree with the strategy so far as the film has drawn mostly favorable reviews coming out of a strong showing at the Venice Film Festival. There has been awards season buzz for the film already, and some are hailing it as a gamechanger for the world of comic book movies. However, questions around the film's violence and politics abound as Joker gets closer to opening weekend.


Different forecasts have said that the filmmakers have little to worry about next month as the movie is favored to bring home some dominant box office performance during the Halloween month. Sony's Venom is the current record holder for an October R-rated opening weekend. The Hollywood reporter has Joker forecasted to pull in about $82 million during that first weekend.

Lower projections from NRG still have it sitting around $77 million, which is a massive win for DC. The noise around Joker will only get louder as we head into October, but there is a reason for optimism around the movie. It may not be "Stairway to Heaven," but it looks like Joker will be reaching some new heights.