Though Todd Phillips has gone on record to say that his JOKER is a complete stand-alone/one-and-done film, fans might find it difficult to accept considering the insane success the movie has had at the weekend box office.
The film has officially broken October box office records (dethroning last years Venom) with $93.5 million domestically and $234 million worldwide.
WOW. Who said a comic book movie has to be colorful to be successful…?
Now, is there enough there to build on? Oh YES.
Perfect Foundation for Gotham: I understand the end of the movie is meant to create uncertainty over what in the movie was real and what was lies created by the demented mind of Arthur Fleck. We get confirmation that he made up his relationship with Sophie (that was obvious from the beginning), but his session at the end of the film makes one wonder if he was trying to insert himself into the birth of Batman (yet that would insinuate that he knows who Batman is, and we know he doesn’t nor cares to know) or if he was trying to make himself feel more vital to the decay of Gotham where he stands as its king. Or, in this case, its Clown Prince.
Regardless, I hope that what we witnessed was literal. Despite the film being an origin for the Joker I feel it was an origin for the Gotham that Bruce will one day inherit to protect. We see this city rotting and we see the hopelessness of it not just through Arthur, but so many characters in his peripheral. The film did such a good job of creating this city, that the idea of Reeves starting over for a film set to release not too far in the future feels like a waste.
It’s also important to note that this film is set in 1978 while The Batman will take place some time in the early 90’s. I have a feeling it MIGHT be set in 1992 as a tip of the hat to the premiere of the animated series and Batman Returns. This would mean that there is only a fourteen year gap between these stories. The Bruce Wayne we met here likely could be about ten, meaning he would take his origin in The Batman around twenty-four which is around the age that Bruce begins his journey as the caped crusader in the comics. The pieces fit!
That being said, it also gives this Gotham more time to marinate in its hopelessness and darkness. It gives this Joker more time to abandon memory of Arthur Fleck. I think, as a viewer, to see not just a time jump like that but to see how this character evolves over that time, would be fantastic.
Hope to Hopelessness: I know for comic book fans a movie like this can be tricky to swallow as it gives us no sign of hope. The moment we learn of Arthur’s childhood is the moment we learn this character never had a chance to begin with. Everything was stacked against him and his fate was sealed. Some of the controversy revolves around the anxiety that the film is asking its audience to sympathize with Arthur-thus asking to sympathize with mass shooters. As a comic fan, my vision is focused on something else; Arthur represents this descent into madness but Bruce, who lost his parents and was scarred, lives his life as Batman making it a point to never cross the line that Arthur did on that train. You see, Arthur killing those wall street men is the line that Batman has always highlighted as a danger. To allow this Gotham to be the Gotham we will see Matt Reeves play with allows the foundation that was created in JOKER to play a role in stories to come.
To bring Batman into this would make the difficulty of JOKER worth it; introduce a hero that is strong enough to face this reality.
We should also praise JOKER for showing us a different angle of evil. It was something that Nolan touched on in his trilogy. If the system is rigged to not allow the less fortunate opportunities for anything, then what is our enemy? Petty thieves on the street or a system that does not represent all its people? I think using this element in future films would allow audiences to not just see a heroic Batman, but a heroic Bruce Wayne; utilize resources to create a better future for everyone.
It COULD be Fun…: Lastly, I know this is VERY VERY unlikely, but wouldn’t it be fun… If Sophie’s (Zazie Beetz) daughter was actually Selina Kyle? We know that Matt Reeves is looking to cast a woman of color in the role for the upcoming Batman film which means that little girl COULD be worked in as Selina.
The reason why I think this could be interesting is because it would mean that the night Joker caused Bruce to become an orphan could be the same night he made Selina one. I know, we never get confirmation if he kills Sophie or not, but I would like to believe that he did. The reason being the shot of him leaving her apartment is visually similar to his leaving the room with the psychologist at the end of the film with bloody shoes; we know he is completely capable of it.
It could further the connection of Selina and Bruce, and could make for an interesting dynamic between these three characters should that be used. I don’t know! I’m just saying! I appreciated the movie tying the birth of the Joker to the birth of Batman in this way. If Selina Kyle could get in on that action I think it could be really cool as well.