The Killing Joke
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Rumored concept for Joker origin movie might sound familiar to Alan Moore fans

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Jan 17, 2020, 1:51 PM EST (Updated)

The Joker will reportedly be portrayed in an upcoming movie about his origins as a failed stand-up comedian whose disastrous attempt to make audiences laugh sends him down the path to becoming the Clown Prince of Crime.

That bit of information comes courtesy of The Wrap, which cited an inside source who suggested the movie will pay homage to the classic 1982 Martin Scorsese picture King of Comedy, in which Robert De Niro played a comedian with delusions of grandeur who ends up kidnapping his idol, played by Jerry Lewis.

That connection makes sense given that Scorsese himself is allegedly a producer on the Joker movie, but comic book fans know that the concept of the Joker as a would-be nightclub act goes back to writer Alan Moore and artist Brian Bolland's legendary 1988 graphic novel, Batman: The Killing Joke.

In that book, the Joker is given one possible origin story, as a chemical engineer who tries his hand at comedy, fails, and must turn to crime to support his family. A series of tragic events drives him over the edge into insanity, through which he is reborn as the grinning, white-faced freak we all love to hate.

Whether the Joker origin movie will also officially incorporate elements of Moore's tale — which was adapted in 2016 as a DC Universe Animated Original Movie — remains to be seen, but the basic idea sounds remarkably similar to Moore's narrative.

The Joker movie is slated to be directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover), who is currently rewriting the screenplay with Scott Silver. Joaquin Phoenix is said to be in talks to play the lead role in the film, which will not necessarily be connected to the main DC film universe.

What do you think of the idea of making the Joker into a onetime stand-up comedian? Should the Clown Prince of Crime even have a definitive origin story?

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