About a year ago, before we knew too many specifics about director Todd Phillips Joker movie, we reported on a theory that the movie would adapt some plot points from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s legendary The Killing Joke. A portion of that book is presented as a potential origin story for the Clown Prince Of Crime, telling the tale of an aspiring stand-up comedian who makes a deal with some mobsters to get money for his wife and then suffers tragedy after tragedy right up to the point where a rookie Batman—believing him to be the ringleader of a big heist—drops him into a vat of chemicals. Based on the trailer for Phillips’ Joker, that actually seems fairly close to what we’re getting (but with a sickly mother in place of a wife).
According to Phillips, though, any similarities between his Joker and the comic book Joker are purely accidental. Speaking with Empire, Phillips revealed that they didn’t “follow anything from the comic books,” with him and the rest of the production choosing instead to write their own take on “where a guy like Joker might come from.” He even says it’s not really a movie about the Joker, but “the story of becoming Joker”—which may explain the shocking decision to let Joaquin Phoenix’s proto-Joker wear something other than a purple suit.
Phillips also noted that he’s bracing himself for the audience reaction to his Joker, saying “people are gonna be mad” when they realize just how little his clown has in common with the comic book clown (beyond the hair, the proximity to Arkham Asylum, the general homicidal attitude, and the close relationship with Bruce Wayne). Other than that, though, this could be a totally different murderer-clown.