Joker was always going to be a different kind of Batman movie. It might not even to be fair to call it a Batman movie, centered as it is on Gotham’s most infamous criminal and not its most famous orphan. But besides a narrative focus beyond good vs. evil, what sets this movie apart is its relationship with its source material.
“We didn’t follow anything from the comic books, which people are gonna be mad about,” writer-director Todd Phillips said in an upcoming interview with Empire. You read that right: instead of basing the script on a graphic novel or cobbling it together from different comic books, Phillips wrote an original story.
“We just wrote our own version of where a guy like Joker might come from. That’s what was interesting to me. We’re not even doing Joker, but the story of becoming Joker. It’s about this man,” Phillips added.
Instead of pitting the character, be it zoot suited Jack Nicholson in a zoot suit or a shirtless Jared Leto, against Batman, the Joker script is about Arthur Blank’s descent into Travis Bickle-like madness. If it sounds like a role designed for Phoenix, a notoriously intense actor, that’s because it is.
“We had a photo of him above our computer while we were writing,” he told the magazine. We constantly thought, ‘God, imagine if Joaquin actually does this.'”
Well, he actually did it, but you’ll have to wait until October 4 to see exactly where on the “inspired by” to “based on” spectrum Phillips’s film falls.