Todd Phillips Explains How He Sold Warner Bros. on an R-Rated Joker

The latest Joker trailer shared some new insight into Arthur Fleck’s tragic backstory. News of the film’s R-rating has also played a big role in garnering newfound interest in this unique take on the Clown Prince of Crime. However, according to director Todd Phillips, setting the movie’s tone wasn’t exactly a straightforward process. While speaking with The Los Angeles Times, Phillips revealed that his ideas were met with some resistance by Warner Bros. and DC.

“It was a yearlong process from when we finished the script just to get the new people on board with this vision, because I pitched it to an entirely different team than made it,” said Phillips. “There were emails about: ‘You realize we sell Joker pajamas at Target.’ There were a zillion hurdles, and you just sort of had to navigate those one at a time…. At the time, I would curse them in my head every day. But then I have to put it in perspective and go, ‘they’re pretty bold that they did this.’ ”

RELATED: New Joker Trailer Gives the Story Behind the Clown Prince of Crime

Although Joker derives some elements from Batman: The Killing Joke, the film largely eschews DC mythology. Instead, Phillips and company opted to embrace the psychodramatic aspect of the character while avoiding traditional comic book movie spectacle. In fact, that very spectacle is what has prompted Phillips to turn down similar films in the past.

“I’ve been offered a few over the years and my thing was always: I don’t watch those movies,” added Phillips. “It’s not because I don’t think it’s cool. It’s just like, quite frankly, they’re always so loud…It was just never something I imagined doing.”

“It really came from this idea: What if you just did a comic-book movie differently?” continued Phillips. “We all grew up on these character studies, and they’re few and far between nowadays. So it was like, ‘Let’s do a deep dive on one of these guys in a real way.’ No one is going to fly in it. No buildings are going to collapse. It’s just going to be on the ground, so to speak.”

Are you willing to give Joker a chance when it hits theaters on October 4? Let us know in the comment section below!

Recommended Reading: Joker (DC Black Label Edition)