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Trivia / Joker (2019)

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  • Adaptation Overdosed: The film features the third live action Bruce Wayne in 2019 alone (the others being the final season of Gotham and the second season of Titans before, and since joined by a fourth in Crisis on Infinite Earths), the third live action Alfred Pennyworth (after the final season of Gotham and the first season of Pennyworth) as well as the third live action Joker incarnation in the decade (after Suicide Squad and Gotham, and second in 2019 after the latter), although it's kind of fitting for the Batman franchise's 80th anniversary. While we're here, the death of Bruce's parents is reenacted yet again.
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  • Approval of God: Joker veteran Mark Hamill expressed his utmost praise for the film on Instagram.
    "The awesome Joaquin Phoenix, Todd Phillips and Scott Silver brilliantly reimagine the character as never seen before! 2 thumbs up from that old-school, comic book version... me."
  • Awesome, Dear Boy:
    • Joaquin Phoenix has said he wanted to do the film because the idea of it scared him and he liked the challenge. He was also interested in the idea of playing a comic book character without committing to multiple sequels. That said, Todd Phillips claims that after the movie's release, Phoenix is currently the one pitching him ideas for sequels.
    • Marc Maron, who has a rather well-documented dislike of modern comic book movies with the Marvel Cinematic Universe being the most prevalent, said he agreed to take part in the film because getting a chance to work with Robert De Niro and Joaquin Phoenix was too big an opportunity to pass up.
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  • Character-Specific Pages: Arthur Fleck / Joker
  • Content Leak: A version of the script leaked in mid-May 2019. It's unclear if was the shooting script or a draft. Whatever it was, it was verified as legitimate when the film released—albeit with some changes.
  • Creator's Oddball:
  • Dear Negative Reader:
  • Deleted Scene: The scene of the leaked filming footage that showed Arthur interacting in the street with Randall, with only Randall dressed as a clown. Arthur takes Randall's clown nose and throws it on the ground. The trailer also has shots such as Arthur walking down the hall of his apartment complex in the Joker make-up and outfit, while carrying the flower prop from an earlier scene, which don't appear in the final cut.
  • Doing It for the Art:
    • Todd Phillips requested that no merch would be produced around the film due to its nature. When pitching the movie to Warner Bros. executives, he was infamously told by some of them who doubted of its potential that they "can't sell pajamas with this version of the Joker".
    • Phillips also wanted to shoot the film on 70 mm, but eventually had to go digital due to Executive Veto.
    • Joaquin Phoenix stated that he always wanted to do a character study of a superhero or supervillain, but didn't want the strings that come attached with being involved in a franchise like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (as he turned down the title role for Doctor Strange (2016)). When he heard that Warner Bros. (which owns DC Comics and all related media) was looking to make a lower budget standalone film that focused on The Joker, he became interested in the project since it was so similar to his previous idea.
    • The movie's logotype was custom-made by graphic designer Chad Danieley using a wood type letterpress, then digitized. Usually, designers would create a unique logotype by distressing a regular digital font in Photoshop or Illustrator.
  • DVD Commentary: Todd Phillips has a great one on the Blu-Ray, filled with plenty of unique stories of the filming process and some surprisingly insightful info on the films various themes and influences.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: According to the director, Joaquin Phoenix lost 52 pounds for his role. It was so serious that filming could only be done once, with no opportunity for reshoots. As noted under What Could Have Been, Phoenix did not want to do this.
  • Executive Veto: Cinematographer Lawrence Sher revealed that he and Todd Phillips wanted to shoot on 70mm film like The Hateful Eight, Dunkirk and The Rise of Skywalker, partially because Phillips prefers film stock but Warner Bros. refused to let them, so they had to shoot digital.
  • Hostility on the Set: Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro had a clash during the earliest stage of filming. De Niro follows traditional rite of script read-through, a process that Phoenix dislikes. De Niro insisted that they do it, and Phoenix half-heartedly accepted, mumbling through the entire read-through. They reportedly settled their differences immediately, but on set they hardly ever spoke to each other outside of filming. They maintained that their disagreement was strictly professional, however, and Phoenix went on to say that De Niro is his favorite actor.
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: There are multiple different takes of Arthur's entrance on Murray's show.
  • Inspiration for the Work: The filmmakers cited the Martin Scorsese films Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The King of Comedy as influences on the film.
  • The Other Darrin:
  • Playing Against Type: In the Japanese dub, Joker is voiced by Hiroaki Hirata, a role quite unlike the actor's usual forte.
  • Revival by Commercialization: The film made the Gary Glitter song "Rock & Roll Part 2" a sensation again with its use in the stairs dance scene. This led to the LA Times having to clarify that Glitter himself has long since sold the commercial rights to the song in America, and none of the royalties are going into the pockets of a convicted paedophile.
  • Similarly Named Works:
  • Sleeper Hit: The film's creation was reluctantly approached by Warner Bros. executives due to its very uncharacteristic story for a comic-book movie and potentially controversial content; it took several months for the script to be approved and they gave the production a relatively low budget to try and dissuade the director. Analysts were also cautious due to it being so different from other comic-book movies, and while most expected the movie to make a profit regardless, nobody (not even Warner Bros. themselves) expected it to be the monster hit it ended up becoming. Joker became the first R-rated film to break one billion USD at the international box office (and without a Chinese release), and one of the most profitable comic-book movies of all time within a month of its release due to its low budget.
  • Streisand Effect: In the months leading up to the film's wide release, it was attacked endlessly by a number of American film critics, journalists, and bloggers who claimed its portrayal of the Joker would inspire "incel" / "white male resentment" violence and mass shootings. This escalated to the point where they even tried to get the film's release cancelled. As a result of the outcry, many police forces and even the US Army were put on alert on release day, and Warner Bros., tired of the attacks from the press, barred journalists from attending the red carpet premiere. That constant negative publicity and drama only served to increase interest among moviegoers to see what had riled up the media so badly.
  • Throw It In!:
    • The scene of Arthur dancing in the bathroom after his first three kills was completely improvised by Phoenix, leading to one of the most memorable quiet moments in the film. In the script, Arthur simply runs into the bathroom, hides the gun, washes his face, and talks to himself while looking at the mirror. However, Phoenix had heard the "Bathroom Dance" composition from Hildur Guðnadóttir and requested to play it in that scene as he came up with an alternate story beat. The rest is history.
    • The refrigerator scene was improvised.
    • During the fateful confrontation between Arthur and Murray, Arthur's scripted line was "What do you get, when you cross a mentally ill loner, with a system...", but Phoenix misremembered the line and said "With a society..." instead, making the scene an unintentional Ascended Meme. Phillips was so satisfied with Phoenix's intense performance that he decided doing another take with the original line wasn't worth it.
  • Troubled Production: Clown mask rioter extras used for the subway chase scene reported that they were locked in the subway car for hours against union rules, and all their attempts to bring this up were ignored until some of them even had to urinate out the window. SAG stepped in upon hearing about the situation to closely monitor the production.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Leonardo DiCaprio and Bill Skarsgård were considered for the role of Arthur Fleck before the casting of Joaquin Phoenix.
    • Alec Baldwin and Viggo Mortensen were approached for the part of Thomas Wayne before Brett Cullen was cast. Baldwin turned down the offer due to scheduling commitments to Motherless Brooklyn.
    • Shailene Woodley, Gugu Mbatha Raw, Dakota Johnson, Aja Naomi King, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead were considered for the role of Sophie Dumond before the casting of Zazie Beetz. Winstead would later go on to portray Helena Bertinelli in Birds of Prey set within the DC Extended Universe.
    • Frances McDormand was offered the part of Penny Fleck before Frances Conroy was cast.
    • In a case of what could not have been, Phoenix had been in talks with Marvel Studios to play the titular Doctor Strange after Benedict Cumberbatch initially turned down the part due to scheduling conflicts, but backed out due to his reluctance to take on a multi-picture deal. Presumably, had he not been so reluctant, we wouldn't be getting this film (or at the very least, someone else would be taking on the role).
    • Todd Phillips pitched the movie as having a new label for DC Films that specifically focused on Darker and Edgier, non-canon stories to their shared universe, but Warner Bros. deemed that it was too early to think about doing that and released it under the standard DC Films banner instead. Given the film's success, however, Phillips' plans for the label are seemingly materializing.
    • Joaquin Phoenix wanted to gain weight for the role, having lost too much weight for previous roles and also wanting to look the way a person like Fleck realistically would look. Todd Phillips overruled him and Phoenix reluctantly lost weight.
    • According to the aforementioned Content Leak, an earlier version of the script had a different story arc in mind for Sophie. Arthur originally did go out with her a few times, but she only did so out of pity, and she was romantically-involved with someone else. When Arthur discovered this, he went on an extended, borderline-misogynistic rant to her face, before telling her to watch Murray Franklin's show on the fateful night. This version of the story makes it clear that he didn't kill her, as she's shown watching the show with her child.
    • Another element from the leaked script that didn't make the cut was a scene where Arthur originally told Sophie a story during a date, explaining that he cut a slight smile onto his face as a child to scare off bullies. The scene would get a call-back at the end of the film, where Arthur, now the Joker, would have used a glass shard from the car wreck to carve those wounds open again and spread them even wider in front of the crowd. This idea was ultimately scrapped, and Arthur instead paints the smile on his face with his own blood.
    • The original script leak had a slightly different ending. After Arthur kills Murray, he escapes the studio. The riot occurs but in this version the rioters break into Wayne Manor, dragging out Thomas and Martha Wayne and executing them. Bruce, while this occurs, hides from the rioters and is found by Alfred the next day. Arthur eludes the police for a few days until he shows up at the Waynes' funeral and he is immediately seen. Arthur is chased and tries to flee but during the process is hit by a car and captured by the police.
    • The script was going to have the song "Bennie and The Jets" in the movie but for some reason this was changed.
    • Martin Scorsese had hoped to direct the film for a few years, but ultimately declined as while he loved the whole idea of the Arthur Fleck character, his lifelong distaste for comic book movies meant he was never comfortable with how the movie would have to end with him becoming the Joker, and figured the comic fans deserved to have it be made by someone whose heart was in that ending.
    • An alternate ending intended for the film had Arthur telling the joke he was thinking of to his psychiatrist in Arkham: that he had killed Thomas and Martha Wayne himself and left Bruce Wayne to cry before turning back and killing the boy. The ending was changed because Bruce's death would mean that Batman will never come to exist in the film's universe.
  • Word of God: According to this article, the only intentional Shout-Out (or "Easter Egg") in the film to previous Batman incarnations was young Bruce sliding down the pole of his playset.
  • Word of Saint Paul:
    • Cinematographer Lawrence Asher confirmed in an interview with /Film that Arthur did not kill Sophie.
    • Thomas Wayne's actor Brett Cullen believes that Arthur is indeed Thomas's son and played the role with this fact in mind.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: Todd Phillips had to write the script during production.
  • You Look Familiar: Brett Cullen who portayed Thomas Wayne here, previously appeared in another Batman-related film, The Dark Knight Rises, as Congressman Byron Gilly.

Assorted Trivia:

  • Joker has become the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time, unadjusted for inflation — having overtaken Deadpool 2 (which grossed $785 million) within its first month of release and grossing over $1 billion (which, to reiterate, makes it the first R-rated movie to do so). It also overtook the unadjusted global gross of The Dark Knight, which had the most successful modern live-action incarnation of the character up to this point. Due to these high returns and its modest budget, some analysts have suggested that Joker may be the most profitable movie based on comic books ever.
  • Also notable for being the first comic book adaptation to win the Venice International Film Festival's Golden Lion, beating An Officer and a Spy, which was regarded as the favorite of the competition that year. On related note, it is, as of 2020, the highest grossing film to win Golden Lion award and one of big 3 film festival award. note 
  • It has also scored 11 Academy Award nominations, and another 11 BAFTA noms, making it the most nominated comic book movie since Black Panther. It ended up winning two of said Oscars (Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix and Best Original Score for Hildur Guðnadóttir), which also means the Joker is the second character who two different actors won Oscars for playing, after Vito Corleone from The Godfather Part I and Part II.


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