Joaquin Phoenix 'Joker' Film Doesn't Follow Any Comic Storyline, Says Director
Anyone knocking together a comic book franchise-related film these days—and it'll probably be you soon, there's so many that we'll be on a jury duty-style rota within the decade—must reckon with the eternal struggle of the form.
Do you cleave closely to the text and lose any sense of your own artistic expression, or do you jazz things up, cut things out, nick bits from various story strands—and ultimately upset the hardcore of fans who you're hoping will give your box office takings a backbone?
Director Todd Phillips has revealed that he's gone for the third option: the upcoming Joker film starring Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro doesn't take its cues from any existing comic story, and Phillips already girded himself for a backlash.
"We didn’t follow anything from the comic books, which people are gonna be mad about," Phillips told Empire. "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."
"I think he's the greatest actor," Phillips said. "We had a photo of him above our computer while we were writing. We constantly thought, 'God, imagine if Joaquin actually does this.'"
Reader—Joaquin did that. That Phoenix-inspired script was what got De Niro on board, Phillips explained, while also showing that he's one of the few people privileged enough to refer to the big man as 'Bob'.
"Bob really loved the script," Phillips said. "I met with him and said, 'I'd be lying to you if I said we weren’t influenced by a lot of your movies.' I talked with him about Taxi Driver and about The King Of Comedy, which is one of my favourite movies of all time."
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.