***There will be ‘JOKER’ spoilers in this blog.***
There’s been a few conflicting reports about the possibility of a Todd Phillips/Joaquin Phoenix ‘JOKER’ sequel this morning. The Hollywood Reporter more or less tried to confirm that they were running it back, and even stated Phillips’ would be working on more DC villain origin films, but now Deadline is calling that a bunch of maclunkey. They say none of those things are happening. Big time Hollywood Media Wars. I don’t know who has a correct report here, or what’s happening at all, really, but I do think it’d be a HORRIBLE idea to give ‘JOKER’ a follow-up flick, no matter how much money it made at the box office. Lemme tell ya why.
Personally, I like my origin stories to leave me with the feeling that I now know how ______ became ______, you know? When I watch ‘Batman Begins’, I feel like I know how Batman became Batman. ‘The First Avenger’ gives you everything you ever wanted to know about Steve Rogers and why he is who he is, and ‘Iron Man’ serves as possibly the greatest comic book character origin film ever made. Pretty much every Spider-Man movie ever made has done the same for Peter Parker! You get the jist.
When ‘JOKER’ was announced, I didn’t love that we’d get that for the Clown Prince of Crime! I’ve always preferred his backstory to be kind of hazy, open-ended, and mysterious. I didn’t want to see a concrete “THIS IS HOW THE JOKER BECAME WHO HE IS” story…and after having seen the film twice, I still feel like I haven’t.
Don’t get me wrong, Todd Phillips did pretty much exactly what I asked for in making Arthur Fleck an unreliable narrator, misleading for the viewer about his backstory throughout the movie – but I also felt that, aside from literally one scene, Arthur Fleck never felt like The Joker, and ‘JOKER’ never felt like a movie written about The Joker AT ALL.
It felt like Todd Phillips got ahold of a pretty neat reimagining of ‘Taxi Driver’, ripped the last 5 pages outta the script, and wrote in a scene at the end where he slaps on the paint for a sec. There were some cool new elements he worked in with the character, such as the uncontrollable laughing fits, his connection to the Wayne Family, and all that, which was fine, but I can’t help but get hung up on the fact that the “Joker” they’ve created could simply never be The Joker.
The Joker is a psychotic, delusional, anarchist who constantly outsmarts/outwits Batman – THE WORLD’S GREATEST DETECTIVE – and runs the largest crime syndicate in Gotham City. For me, that’s who he is. The Clown Prince of Crime. Arthur Fleck checks the psychotic/delusional boxes, buuuuuuut just about none of the other ones.
Arthur Fleck isn’t a man capable of outsmarting Batman…ever. He DEFINITELY ain’t capable of running a mob, either. He murdered a few people over the course of the first ‘JOKER’, and “got away” with none of ‘em. The Gotham City Police Department were on his case from the moment he broke bad, if you will, and tailed him throughout the film, and then obviously snagged him right away after his “stunt” on The Murray Franklin Show. Even if he were to somehow murder every last guard in Arkham one-by-one and escape, I just can’t imagine anybody listening to a single word outta his mouth. Everyone who hailed him as a messiah for the subway murders would very quickly realize that ain’t who he is at all, and that he’s just a severely depressed/mentally ill person who does not have a very high IQ and has trouble getting through the day.
Oh, and this ain’t even mentioning the Batman problem they created by deciding The Joker is gonna be like 30 years older than him. Fine for ‘JOKER’…but once you decide you wanna continue that story, what’s gonna happen? We gonna see a 60 year old Joker eating punches from Bats? I’m gonna feel bad for the mothafucka! ORRRR, is he just the protagonist now? We rootin for Joker with no Batman around? Like c’mon…seriously…all of these things are alright, and maybe even neat if you’re sliding them into an origin flick, but they make a sequel un-doable. It’s just silly, and unfortunately, it ain’t The Joker. Not in my eyes.
‘JOKER’ made a billi at the box office, though, so they’re probably gonna disregard everything they said about never doing a sequel and milk this cash cow for all that it’s worth anyway. Sucks, but that’s life. I’d be way more interested in the other grounded villain origin stories, like a Riddler one, maybe a Ra’s al Ghul or Doctor Hugo Strange one, maybe even a Mr. Freeze ‘Heart of Ice’ style flick if they wanna get nuts.
Just leave The Joker alone for a while. Please.