One of the biggest questions heading into Todd Phillips’ Joker is how will Joaquin Phoenix’s version of the character differ from Heath Ledger’s. We previously reported that the character would be more of a psychopath and have nothing to do with Gotham City’s mob. But what else? After all writer-director Todd Phillips has previously mentioned that the screenplay of the film wasn’t adapted from any particular comic book storyline, but rather, something wholly original.
At the press conference of the Venice Film Festival (via ComicBook.com), Todd Phillips broke down some of the intricate differences between his rendition of the iconic Batman villain, played by Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger’s.
“I don’t think it was this Joker’s goal to watch the world burn. This Joker had an entirely different goal in mind. In the beginning of the movie he’s sitting here doing this [forcing himself to smile and frown] in the very first scene, and it’s a guy searching for identity.
I think he becomes, mistakenly, a symbol, and really what he was looking for was adulation. He was never looking for the world to burn, this Joker. As for the past ones, that’s a different thing. But our guy, that wasn’t his goal.”
Phillips also went on to say that Arthur Fleck in his film genuinely believes that he was put on this earth to spread joy.
“He thought he was put here on this Earth to make people laugh and bring joy to the world, and he made a few bad decisions along the way, but no, his goal was not that. I think he became a mistaken leader, so to speak, or a symbol. Even [Robert] De Niro, [who plays] Murray [Franklin], says it to him. And Arthur says, ‘No, I’m not political.’ He just didn’t get what he was creating.”
Official synopsis of Joker:
Director Todd Phillips Joker centres around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.
Joker is set to hit Malaysian cinemas on 3 October 2019.