A slew of new details emerge regarding Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix, including the possible reveal of the character’s real name in the film, and his family. Warner Bros. is taking on a superhero period piece as they go back to the ’80s during the Clown Prince of Crime’s early days as a failed comedian, giving DC’s most iconic villain his own origin story. The Hangover director Todd Phillips is set to helm, while veteran filmmaker Martin Scorsese is expected to produce the movie. Production is scheduled to begin this September with a budget of $55 million, while it’s slated to hit theaters in October of next year.
Things are moving fast for the superhero flick, which is poised to launch a brand new DC Films label that will be either DC Black or DC Dark. As of right now, Joker is set to be a standalone movie, but that may change in the long run, especially since Warner Bros. is potentially planting interesting plot seeds that may connect to future films in the same continuity moving forward.
A report from That Hashtag Show reveals some new information about the Joker origin film, starting with the real name of the Clown Prince of Crime: Arthur Fleck. The movie begins with Fleck coming home to his possibly dying mother, Penny – a role that was reportedly previously turned down by Frances McDormand – and his meeting single-mother Sophie Dumond, who will be played by Deadpool 2‘s Zazie Beetz if the actress officially joins the film. The news also shines a light on Robert De Niro’s potential role in the movie, apparently, the Academy Award-winning actor will portray Murray Franklin, a late-night-TV host. It’s unclear how he’ll fit into the narrative just yet, but perhaps he could be a mentor/idol-type to Fleck considering the film will tackle his early days as a failed comedian.
Further diving into these casting details, That Hashtag Show theorizes the Joker and Batman may actually be half-brothers. The report indicates that “Fleck’s mother was described as ‘very attractive in her youth’, ‘obsessed with her former employer’ and unable to believe ‘this is what her life has come to,'” – a seemingly unimportant bit, unless it somehow rounds back to Thomas Wayne who was previously reported as being a significant part of the film. Piecing these details together, That Hashtag Show posits Warner Bros. may be looking to link the Joker and Batman in a deeper way – by making them blood-related. Considering that it doesn’t seem like Phillips’ movie is mining story inspirations from any specific comic book and the project is totally unrelated to the DCU, they pretty much have the creative freedom to craft a fresh and more detailed backstory for the iconic supervillain.
This also builds on earlier reports that Warner Bros. is waiting on the reception to Joker before deciding if they’re going to tie it with Matt Reeves’ The Batman – which is said to center on a younger version of the Bat of Gotham. If the Phoenix-led movie turns out to be a smash hit for the studio, it’ll be very interesting to see how they’re going to move forward. While THS’s theory might understandably evoke varying opinions from the DC fan community, it’s difficult to say that this isn’t at least intriguing. Of course, whether or not Warner Bros. can pull this off on the big screen is another conversation, but the fact that they’re willing to take narrative risks like this (should the theory turn out to be correct) is a good indication that they’re actively finding ways to evolve these iconic characters.