DC and Warner Bros first foray into Elseworlds movies begins with the Todd Phillips directed Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix. The film is completely standalone from the rest of their DC Universe, and features an original take on the iconic Batman villain’s origin story.

Joker also marks the first time in a while that a movie based on DC characters is Rated R and deals with complex subject matters. Here we have Phoenix playing a man named Arthur Fleck, who suffers from several different mental illnesses and cares for his elderly mother, in a rundown neighborhood in Gotham City. He pines for a neighbor named Sophie Dumond, play by Beetz, and dreams about a career in stand-up comedy. He and his mother are also infatuated with a talk show hosted by Murray Franklin, De Niro’s character (quite a homage to The King of Comedy).

Things take a turn for the worse, and from there, the film becomes an endless downward spiral for Arthur. Phillips takes a no-nonsense approach to the material, crafting a near joyless film. It is so utterly depressing and bleak, I’m not sure most fans of DC Comics will even get any enjoyment from it. I have a lot of mixed feelings on the film. Phoenix delivers an incredible performance, with his own signature laugh that fans will remember, but I fear for many taking the wrong message away from this film. As always, check out the video below to get my full thoughts.

Joker opens in theaters this Friday October 4th.

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