Robert De Niro has confirmed that there is a connection between Joker and Martin Scorsese's 1982 movie The King of Comedy. The first trailer for Todd Phillips' version of the Clown Prince of Crime's origin story dropped earlier today and it showcased Joaquin Phoenix becoming unhinged. It also featured the brief appearance of De Niro's Murray Franklin character, who is a TV show host and something that his character in King of Comedy wanted very badly.
Before the Joker trailer was released, DC released the first poster for the movie too. Eagle-eyed cinema fans were able to spot that Joaquin Phoenix is wearing the same jacket that Robert De Niro's Rupert Pupkin character wears in The King Comedy. In the movie, De Niro's Pupkin is a psychopathic comic who is obsessed with a TV host, which is already pretty similar to Joker. De Niro had this to say about the connection.
"There's a connection, obviously, with the whole thing. But it's not as a direct connection as the character I'm playing being Rupert many years later as a host."
While Robert De Niro isn't playing Rupert Pupkin again, he says that he would have been interested in making the direct The King of Comedy connection, had Todd Phillips and the producers made the suggestion to him on the set. That would have been a pretty crazy connection to the classic movie. "But by making this type of film, it is connected in a way, as you'll see," says De Niro. The movie already looks very intriguing and it will more than likely get people into theaters who wouldn't normally go see a comic book movie.
Joker is taking a different approach with the Clown Prince of Crime from what we have seen in the past. We're already getting hints at how Joaquin Phoenix's version of the character is shaped by society with a pretty tough experience, which should make for a pretty interesting rise from the ashes. When the movie was first announced, a lot of DC fans were on the fence about another actor coming in and taking on the role of the Joker. However, that all changed as soon as the first image of Phoenix was released by Phillips.
Now, the excitement is building for Joker with the first trailer having dropped. It's going to be interesting to see the other elements from The King of Comedy make it into the final cut and whether or not Todd Phillips goes all in or just subtle nods. So far, everything seems to be pretty far from subtle, which is definitely a good thing for this type of project. The interview with Robert De Niro was originally conducted by Indie Wire.