Joker is a 2019 American psychological thriller film directed by Todd Phillips, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scott Silver. The film, based on DC Comics characters, stars Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, it is intended to launch DC Black, a series of DC-based standalone films. The film, which acts as an origin story for the Joker, is set in 1981 and follows Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian who turns to a life of crime and chaos in Gotham City. Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, and Frances Conroy appear in supporting roles.
Phillips conceived Joker in 2016 and wrote the script with Silver throughout 2017. The two were inspired by 1970s character studies and the works of Martin Scorsese (who was initially attached to the project as a producer); the graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke (1988) served as the basis for the film’s premise, but Phillips and Silver otherwise did not look to specific comics for inspiration. Phoenix became attached to the project in February 2018 and was cast that July, while the majority of the cast signed on by August. Principal photography lasted from September to December 2018 and took place in New York City, Jersey City, and Newark. Joker was the first live-action Batman franchise film to receive an R-rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, due to its violent and disturbing content.
Joker centers around an origin of the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. Todd Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a man disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.