"Joker" Feature Talkback (Spoilers)

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"Joker" - Discuss and Rate this DC Comics movie!


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James Harvey

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Put on a happy face.


Joker
Release date: October 4, 2019; Early Official Showings on October 3, 2019
Studio: Warner Bros.
Screenwiter: Todd Phillips & Scott Silver
Director: Todd Phillips
MPAA Rating: Rated R (for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro, Marc Maron, Frances Conroy, Shea Whigham, Brett Cullen, Brian Tyree Henry

Synopsis: 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.

Discuss Joker right here at The DC Live-Action Forum! So, what did you think?

Related:

Suicide Squad Feature Talkback (Spoilers)
The Dark Knight Feature Talkback (Spoilers)
Batman (1989) Feature Talkback (Spoilers)
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker Animated Feature Talkback (Spoilers)
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Animated Feature Talkback (Spoilers)
Batman: The Killing Joke Animated Feature Talkback (Spoilers)
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part Two Animated Feature Talkback (Spoilers)
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part One Animated Feature Talkback (Spoilers)
Batman: Under the Red Hood Animated Feature Talkback (Spoilers)
 

Neo Ultra Mike

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WARNING: LONG AND RAMBLING REVIEW BELOW THAT SPOILERS THE ENTIRE FLICK READ AT YOUR DISCRETION!

You know since a lot of Batman's mythology at least to me was introduced through the Batman Animated series, that's how I got my first impression on Joker. One of my earliest BTAS memories in fact was in the Warner Brothers store (back when such a thing existed at my nearest mega mall) singing the old "Jingle Bells Batman smells" song from the "Christmas With The Joker." Another early memory of the show I have was him running this guy off the road and later demanding a favor from him in "Joker's Favor." And though at this point I was more familiar with the Joker and Batman's mythology another episode I remember watching as a kid was "Joker's Wild" which was about a guy building a Casino based around the Joker to try and get the clown prince of crime to come and destroy it. I bring that one up because as a kid though familiar with some things Batman still not totally engrossed in the ideas of the world I remember going "how come the Joker is treated as such a big deal and why does Batman have such a problem with him if he can deal with all of these other criminals without as much problems?" Now let's be honest the big reason is because well the character's popularity. As the biggest villain to even now still one of the biggest heroes in the world he is pretty universally recognizable (even my little sister who had no idea who Deadshot and Harley Quinn are knows who the Joker is) and has a pretty wide acclaim that yeah DC banks on thus why even his origins and tie ins and mythos are made such a big deal. Thus yeah you aren't just going to be able to regularly off him in anything. But I guess in universe if Batman represents a grim take on the concept of justice, the Joker is a goofy and comedic take on law breaking that makes him a literal agent of chaos that despite seemingly having no plan is able to keep so many steps ahead of most hereos probably because he is so hard to predict and get a beat on. Which makes him quite popular to write and tell various stories about even away from Batman. Since yeah the two's dichotomy is arguably not just where Joker but a lot of Batman's best material comes from but IMHO the greatest characters should be able to have stories bouncing off more then just one person and tell stories on their own. Thus why the Joker is such a beloved brand whose mere presence in anything major Batman related is considered a huge deal. Especially after how Heath Ledger reinvented the character in the Dark Knight to become one of the best villains ever depicted in cinema.

Which of course led to a huge hubuabloo about his inclusion in Suicide Squad which... yeah let's face it even fans of that movie have to admit that take on the Joker isn't very good and doesn't offer very much. I guess a lot of it was cut out because it was too disturbing but even on it's own though I like the idea of Harley and Joker more on the same level it just didn't give that much actual justice to the character. Thus becoming one of the least celebrated aspects of that movie and something Warner Brothers needed to change. They couldn't just go about though trying to recast him in the DCAU due to contracts and you know not wanting to admit that sinking universe needed any major fixings but they also probably wanted to highlight and strengthen the character after such a break. Thus when talking about new Batman projects guess what one was talked about becoming a thing?


Yeah it's weird how there is no Gotham City Sirens (possibly may be made if Birds of Prey is any good) Joker and Harley (had a script but yeah pretty obivous they're moving away from that based on the Birds of Prey trailer), The Batman (still coming out in 2021 supposedly) coming or yet here but there is now a Joker movie. A taxi driver esque R rated prequel not set in the DCAU supposed one shot Joker movie whose success may determine whether or not there are more dark universe DCEU flicks. And honestly it's one I'm for because studying more about the Joker and the idea of seeing this variation of an origin for him (technically main universe Joker doesn't have an origin or at least has various ones due to it being some big mystery because again super popular character that's how you sell them I guess) seems like a very unique take on the character worth having a movie on. There was a lot of Oscar buzz on this but now there's apparent negative buzz due to the apparent violence in the movie which... it's a movie about the start of a villain. If it's not going for disturbing or brutal on some level then it is sort of failing IMHO. However now having seen it do I agree it's a failure because of that or other factors or does it succeed despite it's newest buzz?

It's one of those movies that takes awhile building itself up but honestly I was actually really getting into it and by the end yeah they definitely gave us a Joker that's for sure.

Now one of the classic Joker stories even if you never find out the exact origin is Joker doing everything to break down someone to prove a point that "deep down the world is just one day away from turning into me" which is interesting but I have to admit even for the DC Universe pretty untrue. Heck even the Injustice games where Joker "breaks" Superman doesn't result in Superman becoming a Joker like figure as honestly the Joker has his own specific brand of psychosis and I think that's something this movie handled really well. I thought it was a bit lame to have one of the opening scenes be Arthur just imagining himself on the Murray Franklin show and Murray being super nice to him and imagining everyone applauding him and thinking well of him but honestly the more you get into this movie the more you realize how important that is to start off and show how much of this movie is in Arthur's head and how it's such a place of false happiness and sincerity to contrast to the actually hell that surrounds him. And I give props that the romance with Sophie which wasn't done well in this movie but you get the point was that it was making Arthur feel good and something he wanted was also something that was just in his head. Granted even then it probably could of been done better (I guess making it more indepth would maybe tip someone off but more could of been done with it) but I do like how yeah this builds up a guy whose only real joys are all fake and phony and once that all breaks down and he thinks that everyone is pretty much out to get him he fully snaps into the role of Joker. Now supposedly even within this made up world he's more like the guy who influences a more "current" joker since yeah this movie ends with one of the guys he influences killing Bruce Wayne's parents so... would be weird if this was implying Joker was like a 60/70 year old guy in the more current timeline but honestly with how screwy even offshoots of the DC world are I could see somehow this Joker staying his age as Bruce grew or something because honestly seeing him more in full glory and being adored by all of his followers was actually a really good scene. Like you usually either take it for granted or just accept the idea of a bunch of people influenced by the Joker and that's why he has so many henchmen and only a few ever get any attention but I do honestly like the idea of Arthur just going on as Joker not to make a point to Murray but to air out his own personal frustration and admit how much he found killing those people funny and how he feels that like everyone has their own definition of comedy it's just part of his and then shooting him pointing out bringing him on the stage after making fun of him previously is part of his "you get what you pay for." Honestly though there was a lot of violent imagery there was really only brief useages of violence because yeah this is not an action movie. Arthur/Joker shoots people and stabs someone and suffocates his mother and leads to police being beaten and a riot at the end sure but those are moments of dark pleasure and the character showing off his psychosis and even the cop chase scene with all the vairous other clowns around isn't treated as this big action spectacle nor should it really considering yeah this is about the horrors and shocks of the action and how it relates to the hero and in that regard this movie handles that really well. Not so much a fan at the end of Arthur again at Arkham asylum even though the shot of him killing his old doctor was good but him just dancing back and forth... eh I don't know I would of gone more with him now having followers start talking about bringing laughter to people and ending it on this darkly morbid happy sunshine scene in the daylight of people being murdered by Joker and his flunkies but that's just me. I kind of wanted to know if they expected us to believe it was all in Arthur's head that ending but yeah then they show the Waynes die again and no that whole ending still did happen you can't fake your way out of that.

I also want to briefly hit on some of the other characters in the movie. Honestly I think when this movie really started clicking with me is the "reveal" that Arthur's mother Penny at least believes that Arthur is her kid with Thomas Wayne which I admit even in well a continuity would be a pretty good twist; that Joker and Batman actually do have some sort of relationship. Which you wouldn't really see in regular continuity that always makes the Waynes such upstanding citizens but in this darker world and having an edge to it I can buy that. And though yeah Penny is crazy and a pretty terrible mother and do leave it a bit vague on whether or not she's truthful or just plain insane I honestly do think that Thomas Wayne is Arthur Fleck's son. Done obviously when he was a bit more of a screw up trying to cover himself up and then making some promise to her that he'd be more supportiive eventually and then never following up on it. I mean though they do make Arthur a creeper in the bathroom him just punching out Arthur and his general attitude and even of Alfred kind of indicates to this guy would be enough of a ****** to do that. Plus I do really like the idea that because he didn't try and take care of and ignored one son, another one of his kids grew up without his father. Honestly you don't really get anything with Bruce Wayne other then an extended bit from the trailer of Arthur trying to make him laugh and... insert 22nd time of seeing the Waynes die (having it happen at the end to tie into again how much Joker corrupted the city gives it much more of a motivation to exist plus maybe now DC Fans won't make so many Martha jokes) but again it does ground the movie more in that in some form most of the events here did happen which I appreciate. I also liked the little bit of this comedy club seeing the other comedians give constant crap to the midget and I also really like the idea of Arthur having this card he gives people about his psychosis and need to laugh over the top at things and that being from his incredibly abusive childhood thanks to his mother's neglect. Yeah I thought they would of made Penny a bit more sympathetic overall but seeing how she just didn't care at the time and thinks she can somehow make up for it now with Thomas Wayne's help yeah makes her a pretty big part of the problem. There aren't really a lot of other characters as this really is a focus on Arthur Fleck/Joker and how he ticks but I do like the bits you got with the two cops (mostly when they were beaten down by the gang of jokers. I kind of think they should of died not just been messed up but eh maybe they're important Gotham characters who "needed to live" for whatever reason) and the psychiatrist diagnosing Arthur when she pointed out how people don't care about guys like him or even her at the end of the day when the funding was cut and showing off how sleeazy those three guys were throwing fries at some lady to get her attention just because they're rich and honestly do like that Murray Franklin though obviously not above making fun of Arthur for ratings or for a joke actually wasn't just a total a-hole to him when they met and was fine with his Joker act and seemed to be trying to reach out to him between his bits before shooting at him even though yeah did have it kind of coming. And yeah setting up Gotham's problems with the radio reports about garbage and showing all the various slums and even Sophie doing the whole gun pointing motion showing her sickness of it that yeah did paint a good picture of a scenario Joker would of sprung from and did that well.

Admittedly for a movie called Joker there weren't too many jokes but again that was part of the point as Arthur's band stand up and even Murray's comebacks were suppose to be more bitter and hurtful here. Plus there were some good laughs like him letting Gary the midget go after stabbing Randall pointing out he was always nice to him but still spooking him with the knife as well as him happily dancing as the copy was getting brutally beaten and I admit Arthur going over and shooting people in the back more times then necessary with that one guy and with Murray was good. So yeah this did really work for me. Again it does start slow and take awhile to get into and honestly it could of if not been tightened at least had some more interesting interactions even if fictional but honestly yeah this one still does work for me and really is a Joker movie. Not a conventional one but one that shows the tragic origin of what is a very messed up character so if should feel that way. The whole ending gag line is "you get what you pay for" even uttered before the Wayne's dead so for the people complaining about the violence... get what you pay for. That's all that needs to be said there.
 

Spider-Man

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I thought this movie was an interesting watch but it ended up being pretty empty. The acting was great and I loved the look of the movie and even the directing but the story didn't really work. Fleck does some really terrible things and it seems like the movie wants us to side with him which I just couldn't do. It seems like the director didn't know exactly what type of story he wanted to tell. He came close but he just isn't able to make the movie come together. It was a neat 'what if' story on a possible Joker origin but the movie isn't as impactful or as smart as it thinks it is.
 

PapaGreg

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It was a good movie but it wasn't a masterpiece some people are calling it and it kinda felt predictable at times. Joaquin Phoenix pretty much carry this movie and if it was anybody else I doubt anyone would've gotten as much praise it received and it sure as hell didn't make me "think".

So yeah its 7.5/10 for me.
 
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Radiant97

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If you've seen Taxi Driver or The King of Comedy then you know exactly how the story's gonna unfold. That's really the biggest issue with the movie. There were also some aspects of the movie that were way too exaggerated to be taken seriously. I think it's a decent commentary on society's attitude towards mental health, but it's not as deep as people make it out to be. The best part of the movie is of course Joaquin Phoenix's acting. You can actually feel his descent into madness thanks to the strength of his performance and I was invested in his character all the way through. The score and cinematography were pretty good too. Overall, it's a decent movie but don't expect anything too deep or nuanced.
 

hobbyfan

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It's a love letter to Scorsese, hence DeNiro's inclusion in the movie, since they drew inspirations from three of their movies.

Knowing a few people with psych issues as I do, I was trying to get a handle on Arthur's psychosis. He wasn't 100% healthy to start with, and the slow descent into total madness upon learning he was adopted had its payoff.

The funny thing was, this film is set in 1981, more than 30 years before the whole Occupy/antifa thing got rolling.

Heh, never knew Sinatra recorded "Send in The Clowns". I guess they couldn't use Judy Collins' version. And where was the Steve Miller Band?
 

Fone Bone

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Jan 19, 2004
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I have not seen the movie so my opinion is probably not fair. But this is not my type of movie at all.

For all I know, the movie may be well-written and acted. If it is, I still think it's a bad idea. I'll probably check it out on DC Universe, but from what I've seen, it's essentially a white guy losing his crap, committing horrific, unjustified acts of murder and violence, and the audience being asked to sympathize with him, and maybe even celebrate it a little. Some great cinema has been made using that idea, like Taxi Driver and The King Of Comedy. But those movies were made decades ago, and made the impact and statement they did because they challenged the way the audience saw that sort of thing, and good and evil. I'm not crazy about those types of movies myself, but I got the appeal when they were made.

I can't speak for anyone else, but in the era of Donald Trump, that kind of toxicity turns me off completely. South Park and Rick and Morty have already pretty much raised a generation of 4-chan trolls, and I've noticed a disturbing recent trend in popular culture of celebrating depravity and asking us to like and sympathize with complete monsters. In the era of Donald Trump and repeat mass shootings, that's not an okay message to me.

You guys can tell me I'm off-base and the movie's great and I'll accept that. But seeing the commercial of the Joker dancing on a sidewalk as classical musical plays says that whatever the movie is, the marketing of the movie is morally questionable. And maybe that's enough of a reason for me to object. I keep hearing the argument that people who believe monstrous things are really suffering from economic anxiety and I think that is patent b.s.. And I feel like the idea of the movie is feeding into that kind of mindset.

I'm probably wrong, and should not have offered that opinion since I haven't seen the movie. But it's been hitting me entirely wrong, and I kind of felt I should say why clearly here.
 
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Otaku-sempai

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I don't think you're completely off base, Fone, though I don't think we are meant to see Joker in a positive light. I do think we are supposed to feel sympathy for Arthur before he crosses the line into villainy, just as we are supposed to feel sympathy for the plight of the child who grows up to become the 'Tooth Fairy' from Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon. It doesn't excuse the monstrous things he does later, but it does help to explain them. For the record, I haven't seen Joker yet, either, and I have no immediate plans to do so.
 

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
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I don't think you're completely off base, Fone, though I don't think we are meant to see Joker in a positive light. I do think we are supposed to feel sympathy for Arthur before he crosses the line into villainy, just as we are supposed to feel sympathy for the plight of the child who grows up to become the 'Tooth Fairy' from Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon. It doesn't excuse the monstrous things he does later, but it does help to explain them. For the record, I haven't seen Joker yet, either, and I have no immediate plans to do so.
It's the marketing that bothers me, and the types of people DC is trying to lure into the theater. I could be off-base about the movie. It's possible. But in light of Aurora I think the type of ads they have been running are beyond irresponsible.
 

Neo Ultra Mike

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May 18, 2006
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Quite honestly having seen not just the ads for the movie but the movie itself I don't think it's being poorly marketed and quite honestly I think it's going for the tone it should be. This was specifically announced even two years ago as a solo Joker movie without Batman. IE the morality and first person perspective of the actions of our main characters were always going to come from a VILLAINOUS point of view in the end. It's not really glorifying or amping up the violence but rather showing it as horrifying act coming from a sick twisted mind who even when beaten down by the system you're not suppose to really agree with him in the end based on what he does as this character. But just like how a Deadpool movie wouldn't really work if it weren't bloody and naughty because that's the nature of the character, the nature of this kind of story is dark and twisted and messed up to sell it's point which it does so well. Really if you don't like the ads and that convince you not to see the movie fair enough but this sells what the story should be for this kind of character and if you want to see that, it's what the movie fully delivers onto.
 

The Overlord

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I have not seen the movie so my opinion is probably not fair. But this is not my type of movie at all.

For all I know, the movie may be well-written and acted. If it is, I still think it's a bad idea. I'll probably check it out on DC Universe, but from what I've seen, it's essentially a white guy losing his crap, committing horrific, unjustified acts of murder and violence, and the audience being asked to sympathize with him, and maybe even celebrate it a little. Some great cinema has been made using that idea, like Taxi Driver and The King Of Comedy. But those movies were made decades ago, and made the impact and statement they did because they challenged the way the audience saw that sort of thing, and good and evil. I'm not crazy about those types of movies myself, but I got the appeal when they were made.

I can't speak for anyone else, but in the era of Donald Trump, that kind of toxicity turns me off completely. South Park and Rick and Morty have already pretty much raised a generation of 4-chan trolls, and I've noticed a disturbing recent trend in popular culture of celebrating depravity and asking us to like and sympathize with complete monsters. In the era of Donald Trump and repeat mass shootings, that's not an okay message to me.

You guys can tell me I'm off-base and the movie's great and I'll accept that. But seeing the commercial of the Joker dancing on a sidewalk as classical musical plays says that whatever the movie is, the marketing of the movie is morally questionable. And maybe that's enough of a reason for me to object. I keep hearing the argument that people who believe monstrous things are really suffering from economic anxiety and I think that is patent b.s.. And I feel like the idea of the movie is feeding into that kind of mindset.

I'm probably wrong, and should not have offered that opinion since I haven't seen the movie. But it's been hitting me entirely wrong, and I kind of felt I should say why clearly here.
Except there are different ways of looking at this film, it's more than just economic anxiety that creates the Joker, its the government cutting spending on mental health services:


I think this Joker is actually mentally ill, rather being a theatrical psychopath like BTAS or Dark Knight Joker is, I think its more about society failing to care about the mentally ill, rather then Joker being some alt-right psychopath who some delusional people would think is heroic.

A work of fiction can make understand a villain's point of view, without having you root for them. This film is not for everyone, but I disagree that it is toxic.
 

AdrenalineRush1996

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I saw the film last Saturday and I found it to be good but it's definitely going to end up as one of the most polarising comic book films in recent memory.

Phoenix was great as the titular villain and his take was much better than Leto's in Suicide Squad.
 

Neo Ultra Mike

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Man even when DC scores a major big hit they find a way to screw it up because yeah with Joker only being about 60 million to make and even overall promotion and distrubing costs being 120 million dollars that overall means it's a 180 million dollar picture. So you'd think that with already 550+ million it'd have over 300 million dollars wofth of profit just for Warner Brothers right? Well... no.


Yeah I was wondering why in the credits there were other production companies attached to this but just thought they were the pathway to the new DC Dark brand or something but no these were the other companies that Warner Brothers worked with to cut down the cost of this movie. Which I guess proves how uber spooked DC is after how bad Justice League flopped to do this for a 60 million dollar movie. I mean even with all the interferance Fox did with Deadpool they didn't bother getting other companies to co fiance the movie but yeah DC did thus they aren't seeing all the profit Joker is making which is their own freaking fault really and hopefully not a lesson they'll repeat again.
 

JLApe

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Joker is not for the faint of heart. It’s fiction, not a documentary. I identify with the protagonist and the story because Joker draws from a lot of real-life experiences, particularly the experience of struggling with problems beyond my control and beyond my ability to manage. A few scenes hit close to home. The one where Arthur smothers his mother with a pillow, it felt personal. The uncontrollable laughter reminds me of an autistic person’s smirking or grinning when he’s nervous or feeling fear.

I hope the film will help the public be more aware that there are people out there that struggle just to get through the day. Having a mental illness or a mental disorder makes it much more difficult. Yet they are expected to act as if they don’t have problems. They are expected to manage life well at work and at home because the Thomas Wayne’s of society are managing so well. But a Thomas Wayne doesn’t have any understanding what those people are going through, yet acts as if he knows what they’re going through and has the answer to their problems. I’ve met people like him. We even elected such a person to be our President.

I’m a member of a monthly meetup group for adults on the autism spectrum. Most of them have low-paying jobs. Some that are on disability benefits are not allowed to work more than 30 hours a week, or they’ll lose those benefits. There are the fortunate few - like myself - that have better-paying jobs (though it took me more than seven tries over ten years to get there). The rest are unemployed, living with their parents, because their autism is so severe that they are unemployable or they may not hold a job for long even after getting one. The few that have therapists got them either through disability benefits, paid by their parents, or health insurance from parents. These are young and older adults, not kids. Their own paychecks isn’t enough to pay for treatment, what with rent, bills and other necessary expenses eating up a huge chunk of that. It’s a fair assumption that Arthur Fleck could not afford a therapist. He’s obviously isolated most of the time. Familiar territory to me. The isolation becomes complete (total, 24/7) when his only resource for treatment is permanently cut off. Coupled with unemployment that leaves him unable to afford treatment, his only solace are the going-ons inside his head and his heart: a toxic combination.

Granted, Arthur has a choice, as do anyone going through such difficulties. I could say he tried his best with what he’s got, and he didn’t know better. Human beings have their limits. There comes a point when people stop believing because they felt humanity has failed them, and they in turn are going to fail humanity. Some choose to express it in spectacular ways.

I spend too much time talking about how Joker relates to me than about the movie itself. I think the music could be more restrained. It’s quite obvious something bad is about to happen through visual cues. Music does not have to be overt and distracting. Love the entire 1980’s look, including the WB logo.

I do have a Batman-related question. Given the kind of human being Thomas Wayne is depicted, what kind of Batman will this version of Bruce Wayne become?
 

Otaku-sempai

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I do have a Batman-related question. Given the kind of human being Thomas Wayne is depicted, what kind of Batman will this version of Bruce Wayne become?
I doubt there will ever be a definitive answer for this, as I don't see a sequel as being likely. However, there is this story's version of Thomas Wayne and then there is young Bruce's perception of his father. The two could be very different. Also, Bruce's feelings toward his mother would also affect his reactions to the murder of his parents. Do we ever get a feeling for Martha's character in Joker? Does she even appear in any substantial sense?
 
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Neo Ultra Mike

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I doubt there will ever be a definitive answer for this, as I don't see a sequel as being likely.
Uh this movie is the biggest grossing R rated movie of all time and seems poised to be the first R rated movie to make over a billion dollars in history. You know Warner Brothers is pining for there to be a sequel to this. And before you go "well if Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Phillips don't want it to happen then it's not going to happen right?" Well yeah but they may not be so adverse to the idea of a sequel as you may of previously heard.


So yeah it could happen. It may be downplayed as an idea for now especially as Warner Brothers is trying to pitch Joker for major Oscar nods which talking about a sequel right away to the movie kind of ruins a bit of it's credit but again yeah could happen.


Also, Bruce's feelings toward his mother would also affect his reactions to the murder of his parents. Do we ever get a feeling for Martha's character in Joker? Does she even appear in any substantial sense?
No as the movie is focused around Arthur so because Thomas being possibly his father is a part of Arthur's story then Thomas has a role in the film but yeah Martha does not and doesn't even really have a line at all.
 
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