Few movies have had as rocky a road from conception to release as director Todd Phillips' origin story for Batman's greatest nemesis. In a recent Instagram post, the filmmaker shared behind-the-scenes photos from the set of Joker, which he captioned with a shout out to the cast and crew of the movie, whom Phillips declared 'the best ever'.
"Been awhile. Hope everyone is staying healthy and safe. Some more BTS pics, seems so long ago now- on set with the best cast and crew ever."
The series of photos offer a fascinating glimpse of the work that went into making Joker. The first black and white pic is of actor Joaquin Phoenix in his full Joker gear, complete with a snazzy suit and clown makeup, listening intently to the stage directions being offered by Phillips.
There are photos of other sets shared by Todd Phillips as well. Like the subway station where some of the most dramatic moments in the film took place, including the murder of the businessmen at the hands of Arthur Fleck which led to the start of the revolution on the streets of Gotham, and the riot at the station in the third act which allowed Arthur to escape from the cops and make it to the Murray Show for his interview.
We also catch glimpses of Arkham Asylum, the place Arthur visits in order to find out the truth of his heritage, and where he winds up at the end of the film. Naturally, most of the photos focus on exploring Arthur's mind, like the image of his cradling a gun in his home, or the increasingly erratic entries in his 'joke' journal, or the card the character carried at all times explaining his medical condition which resulted in involuntary laughter.
Fans will no doubt be thrilled to go through the photos, which reveal the passion that was poured into making the film by the cast and crew. The Joker movie was considered a huge gamble ever since Phillips pitched the idea for it to Warner Bros. They allotted a small budget for the film, and considered sending it straight-to-DVD once it released and started receiving criticism for its violent content.
Fortunately, the movie proved everyone wrong, becoming the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time in addition to netting a bunch of trophies during the awards season. Most importantly, Joker is said to have effected a paradigm shift in the way studios think of comic book movies, proving they don't all have to be huge CGI action-fests.
Filmmakers going forward will likely get the chance to pursue more character-driven storylines in comic book movies, thanks to the example set by Joker. In fact, the next Batman movie being helmed by Matt Reeves is said to be the most character-focused so far, portraying the Dark Knight as a cerebral detective rather than a vengeance-fuelled vigilante.
Meanwhile, Todd Phillips has maintained that he has no concrete plans for a sequel to his hit 2019 film, but would be willing to dive back into the underbelly of Gotham provided he gets a compelling idea for a second joker movie, and can convince Phoenix to come back to the role of Arthur Fleck.