11 new photos of Joaquin Phoenix in clown makeup reveal hints at the 'Joker' origin movie

Splash NewsJoaquin Phoenix shows off his Joker look in New York City on September 22.
  • The “Joker” origin movie has been filming in New York City.
  • On Saturday, September 22, Joaquin Phoenix was seen filming in a Manhattan subway in Joker makeup. On the following Monday and Tuesday, he was seen filming again in Brooklyn with a different clown look.
  • Photos from the set suggest Batman will not appear in the movie.
  • The Joker’s look gives off vibes of Heath Ledger and Cesar Romero’s versions of the character.

Joaquin Phoenix and Zazie Beetz have been filming DC’s Joker origin movie in New York City this September.

The first set photos of Phoenix on the streets of Harlem and a New York City subway show the 43-year-old actor in and out of clown makeup wandering around carnival area Amusement Mile.

There are several different versions of the Joker origin story that have been told in comics, video games, and on screen. While you’re trying to decipher which story DC may be adapting with this Joker, named Arthur Fleck, there are a few things that can be discerned from the movie’s first set photos.

1. This movie is taking place WAY before Bruce Wayne becomes Batman.

Thomas wayne posters the jokerSplash NewsPosters for Thomas Wayne (Batman’s dad) running for mayor hang in the subway on the ‘Joker’ set. Note that Wayne is spelled ‘Wanye,’ but is spelled correctly on other posters held by protesters.

Don’t expect to see Batman/Bruce Wayne in this movie. Posters in the NYC subway show Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s dad, running for mayor. That puts Bruce at the age of a young child, if he’s even born yet. Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck is an older Joker.

What does this mean?

During filming on Saturday in New York City, many were seen holding signs aimed at Wayne. If you look closely, the Joker and his men are not pleased with his campaign for mayor.

Among the signs, are ones that read, “Clown4Mayor,” “Kill the Rich,” and “Facist Wayne is to Blame.”

Joaquin phoenix the jokerSplash NewsJoaquin Phoenix’s Joker also wears a Joker mask.
Joker movie set photoSplash NewsSeveral men in Joker masks are seen holding signs.
Joaquin phoenix joker makeupSplash NewsJoaquin Phoenix’s Joker appears to be the ring leader of a riot in the subway.

There’s also a man being beaten on the concrete.

Joker movieSplash NewsA man is beaten on the ground in the subway as others watch on set of ‘Joker.’

One guess is that the film is leaning into Wayne being a mobster, an idea presented in Telltale’s recent video game adaptation of the Dark Knight. The video game company which recently laid off 225 of its 250 employees, put a spin on the Batman genre by revealing Thomas Wayne had ties to one of the biggest crime lords in Gotham, Carmine Falcone, and a corrupt mayor. Years later, Falcone would become one of Batman’s foes.

It looks like this Joker may try to shed some light on some of Wayne’s potential misdeeds, and how they affected the Clown Prince of Crime. My best guess is that we may be learning the story behind why Bruce’s parents were murdered in cold blood. (As in it wasn’t as random a crime as it always appeared.)

2. There may be hints and inspiration from 1989’s famous graphic novel, “The Killing Joke.”

The killing joke cover DCPart of the cover of the 1989 story ‘The Killing Joke.’

In the 1989 story from author Alan Moore and illustrator Brian Bolland, we’re given a grisly origin story for the Clown Prince of Crime. The Joker starts out as an average man who tries to become a stand-up comedian. The story focuses on how one very bad day can result in anyone snapping. In this case, a bad day led to an unnamed man becoming the Joker after rejection and turning to a life of crime to support his pregnant wife.

The first photos of Joaquin Phoenix filming in New York City showed him wandering the streets of Harlem near a famous Gotham amusement park, Amusement Mile. However, when INSIDER first saw the set area before filming started, it was the writing on another wall that caught our eye.

The words “Ha-Ha’s Talent Booking” could be seen written on a building.

Haha talent bookingKirsten Acuna/INSIDERINSIDER spotted the ‘Joker’ set in Manhattanville September 14, 2018.

It looks like Arthur Fleck may be trying to get a gig as a comedian. We bet it’s not going to work out for him.

3. He looks like a mix between Cesar Romero and Heath Ledger’s Joker.

The joker joaquin phoenixSplash NewsJoaquin Phoenix’s Joker seems to be channeling a few different eras of old and new.

It’s been pointed out that Phoenix’s Joker wardrobe pops in a similar fashion to Cesar Romero’s comedic live-action TV version of the character in the ’60s that was introduced opposite Adam West.

Romero-jokerWarner Bros./YouTubeCesar Romero and his version of the Joker.

The longer hair and face makeup evokes Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance in “The Dark Knight.”

The dark knight jokerWarner Bros.Heath Ledger introduced his longer, shaggier hair to the Clown Prince of Crime.

Even the clown masks are a bit reminiscent of the looks of the Joker’s goons in the 2008 Christopher Nolan film.

4. New York City’s subway transportation system has gotten a makeover.

In the “Joker” movie, passengers are riding on the GTA, the Gotham Transit Authority. A map of the subway lines shows an entire revamp to the MTA New Yorkers know.

Gotham city map jokerSplash NewsHere’s how the Gotham City subway line appears on set of the ‘Joker’ movie.

The map has familiar places, like Amusement Mile, where Phoenix has been seen filming. There are also a few nods to the DC universe fans may notice. Kane County is unmistakably a nod to Batman co-creator Bob Kane. Snyder is most likely a nod to “Justice League” and “Man of Steel” director, Zack Snyder.

As you can see, Grand Central still exists in Gotham.

GothamSplash NewsA closer look at the map shows a few DC Easter eggs.

5. Joaquin Phoenix shows off a second clown look in Brooklyn.

Joaquin phoenix clown joker movieSplash NewsJoaquin Phoenix is seen with a different clown look while filming in Brooklyn.

On Monday and Tuesday, Phoenix was spotted filming in Brooklyn, NY sporting a different clown look. Phoenix is seen in a phone booth taking a call. A red clown nose is removed and hangs around his neck.

He doesn’t appear to get good news. Video footage shows him drop the phone and put his forehead against the glass until his cap comes off. Another Instagram story, which is now gone that INSIDER reviewed, showed Phoenix’s character hitting his head multiple times on the phone booth.

Joaquin phoenix joker clown outfitSplash NewsJoaquin Phoenix was photographed filming in a telephone booth in Brooklyn, NY on Monday and Tuesday.

If you look closely, Phoenix is wearing the same polished Joker makeup in the subway. He just let it get messy and run.

Joaquin clown makeup joker movieSplash NewsThe two Joaquin Phoenix clown looks we’ve seen so far.

It appears Fleck may receive some bad news and that may set off a chain of events to him becoming the Joker we see in the subway.

6. How does this all work? Didn’t we just see another Joker in “Suicide Squad” who was fighting with an older Batman in his prime? Isn’t there another Joker movie being planned?

Joaquin phoenix joker movie Splash NewsHow does Joaquin’s Joker fit into the DC universe?

Yes, there is another Jared Leto Joker movie currently being planned with Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa described it as a cross between “Bad Santa” and “This Is Us.”

This has led many to wonder why we need another Joker movie with Phoenix that seemingly has nothing to do with Batman.

Jared leto joker baseball batWarner Bros.Jared Leto’s Joker is covered in tattoos and appears younger than Phoenix’s Joker.

Well, I have an idea about that, too. The movie is supposed to be disconnected from DC’s other movies like “Suicide Squad,” “Justice League,” and “Wonder Woman,” though it may have some connection to director Matt Reeves’ upcoming “The Batman.”

However, if DC ever wanted to link them all together, they would have a way.

In 2016’s “Justice League #50” it was revealed that there are not one, but three Jokers. At San Diego Comic-Con in July, comic book writer and former president and chief creative officer of DC Entertainment Geoff Johns confirmed he’s working on a three-part miniseries titled “The Three Jokers” for DC’s new “Black Label” imprint.

Batman Three JokersDC ComicsA cover for the three-part miniseries. There is no current release date.

The interesting thing to note there is that Johns was previously working closely to oversee Warner Bros.’ DC films, in a similar fashion to Marvel’s Kevin Feige.

With that in mind, it would make sense to have Leto and Phoenix play two different Jokers. Who would that third Joker be? Either, there’s another actor we don’t know about yet, or we’ve already met him, “The Dark Knight’s” Heath Ledger.

The “Joker” movie will be filming in Jersey City Sunday, September 30. The movie is set for an October 4, 2019 release.


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