DC Comics

In Joker origin movie, Batman’s arch-nemesis will be a failed 1980s comedian

The plot sounds an awful lot like DC Comics' 'The Killing Joke.'


Tess Cagle

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 9, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 10:16 pm CDT

In Todd Phillips’ Joker—the origin movie about the iconic arch-nemesis of Batman— the villain will be portrayed as a failed 1980s comedian who becomes the clown prince of crime after bombing with audiences, according to The Wrap.

This news explains the reasoning behind Phillips bringing on Martin Scorsese as producer of the film because he directed King of Comedy—a black comedy that starred Robert De Niro and focuses on a deluded comedian who can’t catch a break—which will influence the plot of Joker.

Fans on Twitter speculated that the plot seems to be similar to that of The Killing Joke, which is a DC Comics one-shot graphic novel from 1988 that served as an origin story about the Joker. The story has long been controversial because it depicts the torture and crippling of Barbara Gorden as a way for the Joker to menace her father, Commissioner Jim Gordon. 

Despite the controversy, many critics deem The Killing Joke as the definitive origin story. Tim Burton also said the graphic novel influenced his 1989 adaption of Batman and even Heath Ledger once said he was given the novel as a reference for his role as the Joker—although he never read it.  In 2016, Bruce Timm made an R-rated animated version of the graphic novel, starring Mark Hamill as the Joker, but it received mostly negative reception.

So far, news about the impending film has garnered a mixed bag of reactions.

It’s still unclear when exactly the film will be released, but it sounds like it may have a late-2018 start unless the script needs to be rewritten. The cast hasn’t been made official yet, either, but Joaquin Phoenix is apparently in talks to play the Joker.

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*First Published: Mar 9, 2018, 10:54 am CST