Warner Bros. caught us off guard a few weeks ago with the announcement of a solo Joker movie focused on his origins, directed by Todd Phillips and produced by Martin Scorsese. Aside from its '80s setting and standalone nature, there's very little we know about the film. How could a live-action tale entirely focused on the Clown Prince of Crime work? Well, a new rumor just surfaced, and it gives us an idea of how unique and intriguing the project could be.
Brendan Schaub, a former MMA fighter, recently appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Schaub is friends with #ToddPhillips' agent, Todd Feldman, and during the interview, the fighter claimed to know some interesting story details from Joker's solo film:
"My boy Todd Feldman put this together with Todd Phillips. It's dark. It's like a dark Joker. As a kid, he had a permanent smile and everyone made fun of him. It’s like on the streets of Brooklyn. It's super dark and real."
Now, you should take these comments with a tiny grain of salt. Last week the Joker/#HarleyQuinn spinoff was announced, and The Hollywood Reporter stated the Joker movie was still in very early stages of development.
So, even if Schaub's comments are true, they're probably based around a very early concept, which could change at any minute. With that said, we love speculating about upcoming live-action adaptations, so let's have some fun and assume this information is real.
Joker starting his life as an outcast would make his hatred toward the world a much more personal situation. It would give us a new outlook on his reason for villainy, and his atrocities would have an emotional component attached to them. The potential for that kind of journey made me realize something:
This Is A Great Opportunity To Give The Movie A Psychological Horror Spin
Fans may be worried about the possibility of giving the Joker a personal trauma as a driving force for who he is. There have been some stories proposing various traumatizing scenarios for him, but otherwise, senseless madness is the core of the character. He simply enjoys watching people suffer, and as far as we can tell, he's always been that way.
However, making him a longterm victim of psychological abuse presents a great opportunity for the film to have a psychological horror vibe. Of course, I'm speculating from an already sketchy source, but can you imagine how terrifying witnessing the man's fall into the rabbit hole could be, if handled properly? There's one Batman graphic novel that perfectly illustrated this journey, even though it uses a different character: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth.
In it, we're told the story of Amadeus Arkham. As a child, Amadeus lived with his mentally unstable mother. He took care of her, but his psyche slowly started to fall apart as a result of his household's overwhelmingly stressful environment. He went from a sweet little boy to a deranged man who ended up locked up in his own asylum, scribbling strange incantations after brutally torturing and subsequently murdering the man who raped and killed his family.
Why Does Psychological Horror Work So Well For The Joker?
Horror isn't a common word thrown around in comic book adaptations, but certain characters do fit the bill for it, and one of them is Joker. In both comic books and movies, the Clown Prince of Crime has always been represented as a frightening figure, one that would make you turn away if you ever crossed paths with him on the street.
Aside from perhaps #HeathLedger's take on the character, the almost demonic version we saw in the aforementioned #ArkhamAsylum graphic novel, and The Killing Joke's sadistic Joker, the character isn't usually represented within the horror vein. He's not physically imposing, and his villainous activities, as murderous and gruesome as they may be, often end up being portrayed as quirky or even comedic. However, having a movie detailing his slow fall into madness with a horror edge to it has the potential to turn him into a truly terrifying individual.
These types of solo comic book movies focused on characters that work best as supporting players need to have a unique spin to them to not get lost in the constant stream of superhero adaptations. Joker, for example, works best when he's a counterpoint to #Batman's metaphorical light.
The characters are two sides of the same coin, so Joker needs an original approach to make a story centered entirely around him interesting. With that in mind, I'm crossing my fingers for Phillips and #MartinScorsese to take advantage of the inherent horror elements that come with a story focused on Joker's origins.
How would you feel about us getting a more psychological horror-inspired Joker movie? Let me know in the comments!