American psychological thriller film Joker, directed by Todd Phillips, is based on DC Comics characters with Joaquin Phoenix starring as the Joker. It is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures and intended to launch DC Black, a series of DC-based films separate from the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Phillips was set to direct, produce, and co-write the script—inspired by the works of Martin Scorsese and the graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke (1988)—with Silver.
The 122-minute film tells a story that a failed stand-up comedian named Arthur Fleck was driven insane and turns to a life of crime and chaos in Gotham City. It is described as an original, stand-alone origin story. The joker in this film is a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. He worked as a clown by day and dreamed to be a stand-up comic at night. However, he found that he always became the butt of jokes. He was caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty. Then something thrilled happened there.
It inevitably reminds audiences and critics of The Dark Knight, which is considered more serious and Oscar-worthy portrayal. The late Heath Ledger won a posthumous Academy Award for his performance as The Joker in 2008 blockbuster The Dark Knight. And "An Oscar nom is on its way already," concurs David Sexton in the London Evening Standard, praising Phoenix's "absolutely convulsing performance".
Joker premiered at the 76th Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2019, and is scheduled to be theatrically released in the U.S. on October 4. The Guardian described Joker “gloriously daring” and Total film considered it “challenging and subversive”. Some think it is an “unrelenting grimly funny and brilliantly visceral reinvention of DC supervillain” while some critics considered it as“pernicious garbage”. And Phoenix said at the Venice Film Festival that he did not refer to past iterations but crafting his own.
The franchise for Batman was rebooted in 2005 with Batman Begins directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale. There were also two following installments including The Dark Knight in 2008 and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, with Bale reprising his role in both files. These two sequels both earned over $1 billion worldwide, making Batman the second film franchise that has two of its films earn more than $ 1 billion worldwide. The second installment also considered one of the best superhero movies of all-time. They are also jointly called The Dark Knight Trilogy. The commercial success and wide acclaim they have received are seen as superhero regaining widespread popularity.
The DC Extended Universe refers to an American media franchise that is mainly centered on a series of superhero films. These films are mainly based on characters in American comic books by DC Comics and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It covers films and television programs and always established by crossing over common plot elements, settings, cast，and characters. It is the tenth highest-grossing film franchise of all time, having grossed over $5.28 billion at the global box office.
The universe consists of Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016), Wonder Woman (2017), Justice League (2017), Aquaman (2018), Shazam! (2019) and many other scheduled films, such as Birds of Prey (2020), Wonder Woman 1984 (2020), The Batman (2021), The Suicide Squad (2021), The Flash (2021), Aquaman 2 (2022), and Black Adam (TBA). The upcoming film Joker is out of this universe. Since these films are written and directed by a variety of individuals, unlike Marvel Universe, the franchise has a non-linear and interconnected story.