Todd Phillips’ Joker movie will compete for one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry it was revealed today, with the film playing in the main competition at the Venice film festival.
Speaking at the Rome press conference announcing the line-up, Venice’s festival director Alberto Barbera justified the film’s inclusion as a contender for the Golden Lion prize, saying Joker is ‘darker than The Dark Knight and it’s Phoenix at the height of his powers.’
That’s a pretty bold claim, considering the fact that The Dark Knight is the bleakest blockbuster since Empire Strikes Back, leaving one hero scarred and dead, one woman killed in an explosion, and a villain left swinging in the air giggling at the fact he feels like he’s won.
Oh, and not to mention that the film’s hero ends the movie bat-cycling off into hiding from the authorities. Spoilers by the way, as if you haven’t seen The Dark Knight.
Still, it’s a very, very good sign in terms of the movie’s general quality level - Suicide Squad may have won an Oscar, but it wasn’t nominated for a Golden Lion, which is generally considered to be a solid predictor for Academy Award glory, with last year’s winner, Roma, going on to do quite well.
Of course, The Dark Knight’s Joker, Heath Ledger, ended up being the first superhero movie actor to win an acting Oscar (Best Supporting), following his tragic death. Could Phoenix become another Oscar-winning clown prince of crime?
Time will tell, but for now, we just got even more excited about Todd Phillips’ cinematic Elseworlds tale, which seems to take place in an alternate reality where comic book movies are as respected as prestige dramas.
Joker is in UK cinemas on 4 October and we’ll see it even if we have to walk to the multiplex wearing clown shoes.