Batman’s greatest nemesis has never had a consistent backstory — and honestly, that’s always been part of his appeal. In a medium where origins are everything, the threads of the Joker’s tale are every bit as twisted as the character himself.
But in an era when even Batman’s butler gets a television show exploring his early life, the only surprise is that a film like “Joker” didn’t come along sooner. The origin story directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover trilogy) sports a coveted Martin Scorsese executive producer credit, and from the looks of today’s new trailer, it has the iconic filmmaker’s fingerprints all over it.
Joaquin Phoenix stars as the titular supervillain, with an origin story that appears to take more than a few cues from Scorsese’s 1983 masterpiece, “The King of Comedy.” This version of Arthur Fleck/The Joker is cast as a failed stand-up, who, naturally, becomes a criminal mastermind. Basically Rupert Pupkin with ICP makeup and an exit strategy.
In the off-chance that the parallels are too subtle, Robert De Niro makes a quick trailer cameo, playing a talk show host. The character likely shares more than a little with Jerry Lewis’ greatest role as asshole late-night host Jerry Langford in the Scorsese film, but the shot of De Niro in front of the curtains is 100 percent Pupkin.
It’s a strange cocktail by any measure. It’s likely going to get an R rating. Also, Marc Maron is in it for some reason. It’s a DC film, but one that has as much in common with the DC Extended Universe as Fox’s Gotham. And given the consistency of the Zack Snyderpalooza, that’s honestly probably for the best.
“Joker” hits theaters October 4.