Joker is a 2019 American psychological thriller film directed and produced by Todd Phillips, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scott Silver. The film, based on DC Comics characters, stars Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker and provides a possible origin story for the character. Set in 1981, it follows Arthur Fleck, a failed clown and aspiring stand-up comedian whose descent into insanity and nihilism inspires a violent countercultural revolution against the wealthy in a decaying Gotham City. Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Bill Camp, Shea Whigham, and Marc Maron appear in supporting roles. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, Joker was produced by Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Films in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, Bron Creative and Joint Effort.
Phillips conceived Joker in 2016 and wrote the script with Silver throughout 2017. The two were inspired by 1970s character studies and the films of Martin Scorsese (particularly Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy), who was initially attached to the project as a producer. The film loosely adapts plot elements from Batman: The Killing Joke (1988), but Phillips and Silver otherwise did not look to specific comics for inspiration. Phoenix became attached in February 2018 and was cast that July, while the majority of the cast signed on by August. Principal photography took place in New York City, Jersey City, and Newark, from September to December 2018. Joker is the first live-action theatrical Batman film to receive an R rating from the Motion Picture Association.
Joker had its world premiere at the 76th Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2019, where it won the Golden Lion, and was released in the United States on October 4, 2019. It received generally positive reviews from critics, earning praise for Phoenix's performance, the direction, visual style, editing, musical score, and cinematography. Despite this, the dark tone, portrayal of mental illness, and handling of violence divided opinions and generated concerns of inspiring real-life violence. The film was a box office success and set records for an October release. It grossed over $1 billion, the first R-rated film to do so, and became the sixth-highest-grossing film of 2019 during its theatrical run. The film also received numerous accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Actor and Best Original Score.
A sequel, titled Joker: Folie à Deux (transl. "Madness for Two"), is scheduled to be released in October 4, 2024, with Phillips and Phoenix returning.