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Todd Phillips Confirms His Joker Movie Is Rated R

Now let's be careful with this origin story.

Actor Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck / Joker in upcoming Joker movie from DC

Director Todd Phillips has confirmed that Joker, the next installment in the Warner Bros. and DC live action collaboration starring actor Joaquin Phoenix as the titular character, will be an R-rated movie.

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In an Instagram post that featured an image of Phoenix putting on some final touches to his makeup, a commentator asked what the MPAA rating was going to be and he responded, “it will be Rated R. I’ve been asked this a lot. Just assumed people knew. Sorry.”


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Finishing touches.

A post shared by Todd Phillips (@toddphillips1) on

Joker, which is due out in October of this year, tells the story of Arthur Fleck, a “mentally ill and impoverished stand-up comedian disregarded by society” who slowly transforms into the Clown Prince of Chaos we know and love the Joker in the early 1980s.

The film also stars Robert De Niro as Murray Franklin, a talk show host who messes with Fleck’s life, Zazie Beetz as Sophie Dumond, Arthur’s love interest, and Frances Conroy as Penny Fleck, Arthur’s mother. There are some noted similarities to 1982’s The King of Comedy, as well as inspiration taken from Scorsese movies—we knew that this wasn’t gonna be your older brother’s Joker.

The movie is intended to be the first in a series of DC-based films separate from the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), as discussed last June. This is meant to be the beginning of more “experimental” films from DC that will serve as standalone installments (though we’ll see how long that lasts when the box office returns happen). They’re going to have lower budgets with more experimental ideas and talent behind the camera.

Joker only has a $55 million budget, much less than all the most recent DCEU movies, and one of the lowest for a comic book movie since Kick-Ass. Hell, even The Green Hornet had a budget of $120 million.

Despite the lumps it has taken, and my mixed feeling about the universe as a whole, I appreciate that the DCEU has found ways to reinvent itself as it goes along. It has truly learned from its mistakes and has done a better job at hiring women and having POC-led movies early on in comparison to the MCU.

Birds of Prey coming out in 2020 shows how the DCEU is learning to play with its strengths. While a Joker movie is not the most interesting thing I would have picked, it makes sense that they are gonna give us something that only Deadpool was truly brave enough to do before: make an R-rated movie with an R-rated character.

Do I have things I’m concerned about? Absolutely, it’s very easy to turn Joker from a compelling villain who is truly evil and want to make him more “emotionally complex.” But I’m hoping that Todd Phillips and screenwriter Scott Silver realize that you can give him a sad-ish “origin” story, but what makes the Joker a great bad guy is that he is truly a horrible person who loves nothing and lives to make chaos. We’ll see how it all comes together on October 4th 2019.

(via Coming Soon, image: Warner Bros.)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.

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