It was clear from the very beginning that the upcoming comic book movie Joker would stray pretty far from the comics on which it is based. With a distinct lack of Batman, open vats of chemicals or any other flights of comic book fancy, Joker would be a much more grounded take on the Clown Prince of Crime. Much like the film's rejection of all things comic book, the Joker himself, Joaquin Phoenix, was rather unhappy with the inclusion of Thomas Wayne in proceedings.
"[Joaquin] never liked saying the name Thomas Wayne. It would have been easier for him if the movie was called 'Arthur' and had nothing to do with any of that stuff. But in the long run, I think he got it and appreciated it."
These words from Phillips suggest that Phoenix really had not interest to star in a comic book movie, and much preferred thinking of the film as the individual character study that it appears to be. With an actor as particular, and sometimes problematic, as Phoenix this does not come as much of a surprise.
Speaking of the film being a character study, the dramatic weight loss that Phoenix endured has been a talking point of late. Phoenix addressed the character's skeletal frame, stating that it was the source of much disagreement between himself and Phillips, with the former having undergone drastic weight loss in the past and not being hugely eager to go through it all again.
"It's a horrible way to live. I think [Arthur] should be kind of heavy. Todd was like, 'I think you should do the real thin person.'"
Evidently Phillips got his way, and it certainly looks to have been the right decision, as Phoenix's Joker looks almost spider-like as his lanky appendages creep and crawl across the screen giving the character the creepy other-worldliness that has caused Batman such grief for so many years.
Oops, probably should not have mentioned Batman. Apologies, Joaquin.
Despite the lack of inclusion of the Caped Crusader, Joker has been lauded by critics following showings at both the Toronto International Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival, with the film even receiving the coveted Golden Lion award. This has undoubtedly caused much buzz around the film's potential for earning Academy Awards, particularly for Phoenix's central performance. Though a few, more recent, reviews have seen Joker's Rotten Tomatoes score fall from the mid-90's down to 78%, with many citing the film's controversial message on violence in society being a real issue, Joker is sure to be a highlight of the year, even with the inclusion of Thomas Wayne. New York Times gives us this tidbit.