The details of the upcoming Joker origin movie from The Hangover director Todd Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix has been covered in mystery, but some very public shoots in NYC have continuously revealed some very interesting sequences and developments that point to the larger thematic arc this movie is going for.
Well, now some of those supposed themes of Joker are being confirmed, thanks to the new synopsis that Warner Bros. has just released for the film via the studio's official 2019 editorial guide:
"Drama. Joker centers around the iconic arch-nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. The exploration of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a man disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale."
The whole "broader cautionary tale" part is what has been emerging as the core of the thematic subtext to this Joker movie. Set videos and photos from the months of shooting in NYC this fall have revealed that Joker will be aligning its tale of the creation of Batman's nemesis to the socio-economic-political realities of Trump-era America. Essentially, Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck becomes a entertainer who is disenfranchised by society and suffers some personal loss, thereby twisting him into an anarchic figure, who uses his flamboyant clown persona to stir the socio-economic unrest bubbling under Gotham's surface into a full-on revolt. Set videos of a subway sequence show Fleck in full Joker makeup leading a mob commuters in clown masks in riot against Gotham's wealthy elite.
Fleck's list of targets seems to include Thomas Wayne's political ambitions, with clown protesters flashing signs like "Kill the Rich" and"Blame Wayne", and Thomas Wayne's bid for Mayor already having been confirmed as part of the film's plotline. At this time, it's unclear if Joker director Todd Phillips is actually taking a political slant in this film - the evidence piling up instead points to Joker being a warning about the kind of everyday citizen that can be twisted into a monster by a toxic socio-political-economic climate, and the general disregard and/or disrespect of his fellow citizens and neighbors. Done well, it's a powerful and timely story that could be built on the back of one of the most charismatic villains in comic book history - but it's definitely a thin tightrope to walk, in these divisive times.
Joker hits theaters on October 4th.