Last night saw the first footage from Todd Phillips' take on the infamous DC Comics villain, Joker, with Jaoquin Phoenix in the titular role.
It's a short 30-second video of Jaoquin Phoenix in costume as Arthur Fleck, the man who will become Joker, smiling as a projection of his future self plays across his smiling face before it cuts to reveal him in full makeup - all to the sounds of The Guess Who's 1969 hit, 'Laughing'.
So, what does it all mean? What's it all about?
So, is this a prequel to 'Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice' or 'The Dark Knight' or what?
No, it's neither of those things. This is a standalone movie that has nothing to do with the continuity from either Christopher Nolan's movies or the DC Expanded Universe. It won't conform to any of the previously established lore or canon, so don't expect cameos from the likes of Christian Bale or Ben Affleck in the middle of it.
Why are they making an origins movie out of the Joker if they're not going to set it up as a franchise?
Honestly, we're in agreement with you there. We've opined previously that the Joker isn't supposed to have a backstory and that the central premise of his character is that he appears out of nowhere, does crazy stuff and then disappears. His actions are important, not where he's come from - which is in direct contrast with Batman, who's all about where he comes from since that's what essentially defined him.
While there's been no talk of a franchise based around Joker or Todd Phillips and Jaoquin Phoenix's take on the character, you'd have to imagine that it's been discussed pending the success of this. The best outcome, if it is a success, is that we'll see more fresh, original takes on these established characters than simply trying to force a cinematic universe into existence like they've done so far.
OK, so who's going to be in it?
Obviously, Jaoquin Phoenix is going to play Arthur Fleck / The Joker, and he'll be starring alongside Robert DeNiro, who'll be playing a talkshow host. Comedian Marc Maron - who you'll know from 'GLOW' and his wildly popular podcast - is also in there, and Brett Cullen is also in there as Thomas Wayne, father of Bruce, who replaced Alec Baldwin in the same role. Zazie Beetz, who was in 'Deadpool 2', will play a hardened single mother and is rumoured to be the love interest of the story.
Will it be an action movie, a blockbuster, or what?
At this stage, it's hard to say because we've seen so little. Certainly the budget that they're working with - $55 million - is nowhere near a blockbuster budget and given how it's meant to be a fresh, original take on the character, our guess is that it'll far more psychologically complex than what we've seen before for this kind of source material.
What comic or storyline is it going to be based on?
Funnily enough, 'Joker' appears to be taking more of its inspiration from 'The King Of Comedy', a black comedy made by Martin Scorsese (who's also producing 'Joker') in the '80s about a failed comedian - played by Robert DeNiro - who takes a vain talkshow host as ransom in exchange for giving him his big break into comedy. It's a fascinating and bleak take on modern celebrity culture, and it's one of Scorsese's most underrated movies. Another theory is that 'Joker' will be based in part on 'The Killing Joke', which described the Joker as a failed comedian who took on a robbery to help make ends meet and was horribly disfigured in the process by Batman.
Is it going to be R-rated or what?
Most likely, although nothing has been confirmed as of yet. The official synopsis certainly makes it seem like it will be. It reads as follows, "Joker centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), a man disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale."
So when it's out?
'Joker' will hit Irish cinemas on October 4th, 2019.