Joker Director Todd Phillips Wants To See, But Not Make, A Batman Film Based On His Universe

What would Batman from this world look like? Todd Phillips wants to know.
What would Batman from this world look like? Todd Phillips wants to know.
Photo: Warner Bros.

There’s still no update on what happens next for Todd Phillips’ Joker. After making over $1 billion at the box office, awards-season glory is one possibility. A sequel is another, though there hasn’t been any movement on that front. Another idea is something Phillips himself wants to see, but not actually do.


“It’s a beautiful Gotham. What I would like to see someone tackle is what Batman looks like from that Gotham,” Phillips told Variety.

Though Joker primarily tells the story of Arthur Fleck, a troubled man who finds himself through violence and becomes the iconic comic book villain, the character of a young Bruce Wayne is stringed throughout. First in a scene at the Wayne estate (where Arthur thinks he’s going to meet his biological father) and later as young Bruce and his parents leave the movies. His parents are subsequently murdered by a man wearing a Joker mask, inspired by Arthur’s deeds.


“I’m not saying I’m going to do that,” Phillips continued. “What was interesting to me about the inclusion of Batman in our movie was, ‘What kind of Batman does that Gotham make?’ That’s all I meant by that.”

Which is a nice way of sayingDon’t get your hopes up for a spin-off, Joker fans. Phillips is merely pontificating about the gritty, grimey, Scorsese-esque Gotham City he created for his film and how that environment might change Batman from the usual versions we are used to seeing. Would Batman himself be more violent? Would Bruce Wayne even become Batman? We don’t know, nor does Phillips. He just thinks it’s an interesting thing to think about.

And...of course he does! That’s the whole point of Joker! To elicit different themes and conversations. But the only people who could have that conversation for real are in offices at Warner Bros., and those people are wrapped up with another Batman at the moment. So it seems highly unlikely Phillips’ idea will ever see the light of day. Or, maybe, it ends up being the spark that gets him and star Joaquin Phoenix back in front of the camera. Anything is possible.


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Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo

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Brian Burns

My first thought was this world’s Batman would be a just a grim dark vigilante, like in Death Wish. But that seems too predictable. Maybe if this Gotham is supposed to be way more realistic than what we’ve seen before, Bruce Wayne goes to college and studies criminology, but also studies the sociology of crime and its connection to poverty. He realizes he can use his family’s vast wealth to create education and job training programs while also using his high public profile to get private donor and government buy in, ultimately reducing Gotham’s crime rate by massive amounts.

Eventually he becomes mayor of Gotham and enacts a series of police reform initiatives, strengthening relationships between law enforcement and local communities.

Nothing is easy, there are lots of set backs. In the end Wayne wonders if he did all he could, but decides that the will and the effort are the important measures.