With production of the comic book adaptation Joker underway in New York City, there has been heightened interest and speculation about how the film will treat it’s titular character. Phillips has described the project as a Taxi Driver-like origin story, with Joaquim Phoenix staring as Arthur Fleck (A. Fleck! Get it?) a rather weedy looking man who will become transformed into one of the most famous comic book villains of all time. But what exactly does he mean by that?
Well today we get our first real concrete look at what the director has in mind, at least visually, for the film as Phillips has tweeted out the following short video of a makeup test for Phoenix.
— Warner Bros. Pictures (@wbpictures) September 21, 2018
First off, let’s just say that I like the reveal of the video, especially with the juxtaposition of the song. Very chilling, and hopefully a hint of what Phillips has in store.
As for the look of the Joker himself, it looks like they are going with more traditional clown makeup than the slightly stylized look the character has had in numerous other film appearances. If anything, my first impression was that it bore a bit of a resemblance to real life serial killer and children’s party clown John Wayne Gacy. Certainly a chilling parallel if Phillips is looking to keep the story grounded in a more gritty, realistic setting. FBOL Comic Book Movie Editor William Gatevackes also reminds me that the makeup is reminiscent of the masks worn by the bank robbers at the beginning of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008).
What’s missing is the Joker’s traditional paralyzed rictus inspired by actor Conrad Veit’s appearance in the classic 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs. Will some accident befall Arthur at some point in the film as part of his journey to becoming the Joker that we are familiar with? Or will that be an element of the Joker that they decide to jettison as possibly being too fantastic for the story and tone they want to set?
Joker also stars Robert DeNiro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy and Marc Maron and is scheduled for an October 4, 2019 release.