Todd Phillips’ upcoming Joker movie has been in a state of uncertainty when it comes to its place in the larger pantheon of DC movie universes. Nearly since its conception, this “Joker origin movie” starring Joaquin Phoenix has been reported as not being set in the DCEU, with rumors pointing to a new, parallel universe of standalone movies going by DC Black, DC Dark or DC Elseworlds. In an interview to Empire Magazine, it appears Phillips has pretty much confirmed this intent for Joker.
Empire’s Johnny Sobczak revealed via Twitter that Todd Phillips initially pitched Joker as the first in a a new breed of DC movies titled DC Black. This new division would churn out movies at a considerably lower budget, in the $30 million range, and would be filmed largely on real streets without green screens. Phillips described the energy from an actual location as being something unmatched by an artificial setup using green screens, which he sort of expressed a disdain for. The idea would be to rope in great filmmakers to do great films liberating themselves from the shadow of the larger and super successful MCU.
Here are the quotes reproduced from the Tweet, which you can check out in the source link below:
Todd Phillips pitched JOKER to WB executives at the after party of the WAR DOGS premiere. He suggested they begin a new division called DC Black, separating itself from the current crop of DC films. It was also a way of differentiating from Marvel.
“I said ‘Let JOKER be the first, then let’s get f***ing great filmmakers to come in.’ Instead of trying to live in the shadow of the beast (MCU), let’s do something they can’t.” This included $30 million budgets, no CGI hoopla. “Let’s strip that all away. It’ll be liberating.”
“The energy you get from an actor is different on 179th Street and Jerome Avenue in the Bronx than if we did that with green screen, which, by the way, I don’t even know how to do shit like that. There’s not one green screen in this movie.” – Phillips, on filming in New York CityJohnny Sobczak on Twitter
For anyone who’s been following Joker‘s production, the part about no green screens should come as no surprise. They pretty much shot the entire movie on real locations, resulting in a lot of set photos leaking out which also revealed Joaquin Phoenix’s look in the movie before the trailer hit. Because movies are so complicated these days, some amount of CGI will obviously be involved in redressing or compositing locations to make them resemble the fictitious Gotham City.
That aside, this really is an interesting perspective on comic book movies that could help separate DC from its rival. Sure, Marvel does intend to launch a “What If” series tackling some possibilities outside its MCU, but DC Black could potentially let Warner Bros. carry on with its central DC Movie Universe while still allowing room for directors to interpret iconic superheroes in their own way. With (hopefully) complete creative freedom, DC fans could have the best of both worlds. And as test screenings suggest, Joker could very well have liberated its character from its traditional comic roots and brought it into something a lot more nuanced and messed up.
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