The Joker movie might not be based on one specific comic book story featured the DC Comics character but it certainly has its fair share of references and ties to that world. Despite making a unique and isolated film, director Todd Phillips still aimed to have this story represent the original comic book source material for the character, which is something some fans thought was not the case after earlier comments were published.
ComicBook.com spoke with Phillips after an advanced screening of Joker, where Phillips gave more accurate insight regarding his comic book inspirations for the movie. "It’s funny because a lot of you guys have probably reprinted something I said in Empire where I was misquoted," Phillips said. "I’m not gonna complain, I like the writer; he wrote a great piece where I said we didn’t take anything from the comic book world. It’s actually not what I said. What I said was we didn’t take anything from one particular comic. We kind of picked and chose what we liked from the kind of 80-year canon of Joker. We kind of pulled a few things that we liked.”
In crafting an origin story of sorts for the character, Phillips elected to bring things back to a certain time period which could reflect on the character's spiral into madness. Some of the Joker's stories in comics have been set in similar periods while others are completely different.
"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."
Joker hits theaters on October 4.