Moviegoers are about to give Joker even more reasons to dance like a goofball on those stairs in the Bronx. The Todd Phillips-directed movie starring Joaquin Phoenix as the beclowned bad guy is on the fast track to becoming the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever not adjusted for inflation. This means it’ll likely surpass the current record-holder: Deadpool.
Who could’ve guessed that Joker would be such a box office juggernaut? There was always a good chance that the dark and violent movie would do well: it had a considerably lower budget than most superhero adjacent movies, and it also involved a popular character from the world of Batman. But I don’t think anyone saw this coming: if all goes according to plan, Joker will end up being the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever.
Globally, the Joker box office haul currently stands at $737.5 million, and that number will only increase. In fact, according to THR, Joker is likely headed towards $900 million globally – and it might even end up at $1 billion. The current R-rated record-holder is Deadpool, which took in a worldwide total of $783 million.
This is good news for Warner Bros., who have had more than a few flops this year, most notably The Goldfinch, a would-be prestige pic that might end up as one of the biggest bombs of the year. It’s also a good sign for WB’s DC-related movies. Warner’s DCEU was in a rough spot as the studio attempted to chase the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But now that WB and DC are trying a different approach, it’s paying off. For proof of this, look no further than the comparison between Joker and other recent DC movies. In three weeks, Joker has already made more than the entire worldwide run of Justice League.
All of this is also good news for audiences hungry for more R-rated superhero content. There was a brief period where the idea of R-rated superhero flicks seemed unthinkable. Then Deadpool ended up being a hit, and Logan earned rave reviews. Now Joker is about to smash records and probably earn its star an Oscar nom. It’s safe to assume studios will now be rushing to greenlight even more R-rated comic book adaptations.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that the R-rated superhero movies to come will be as successful as Joker. The movie has benefited greatly from festival hype, and hype in general. Even before the movie opened there was already a significant amount of controversy about Joker’s message, and the type of audiences the ultra-violent nihilistic film might appeal to. That’s the type of publicity money can’t buy, and it always draws a crowd. More often than not, though, the crowd evaporates after opening weekend. That’s not happening here. Joker continues to have a stronghold at the box office. It held fast at number 1 for three weeks in a row, and only just fell to number 2 over this most recent weekend.
With large swathes of the population sitting at home, audiences have a chance to catch up on films that were released years ago and find new insights into their narrative. Recently, a fan who had been watching Suicide Squad with his family reached out to the film's director David Ayer to ask about the meaning behind the scene where the Joker is lying in the middle of a room lined with a circle of knives, guns, and baby clothes. Denying that the baby onesies were trophies after an infanticide spree on the part of the cackling psychopath, Ayer provided the following explanation for the scene instead.
'No it's more innocent. Harley wanted a normal family with Joker hence the baby in her vision. I figured she would have endlessly pestered Mr. J about having a kid. So he had Mr. Frost buy some onesies. The circle represents how he sees Harley.'
The scene under discussion comes up early in the story. Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, is locked up in Arkham, and we see Joker, played by Jared Leto, in his mansion mourning her absence. He has also shown to have drawn a grin across his face using a sharpie, which according to David Ayer, is because...
'He was having a hard time smiling without Harley so gave himself some help with a sharpie.'
This introduction sets up the fact that this Joker is unlike any other live-action portrayal of the supervillain as a man who is missing his demon lover. The onesies we see lined up on the floor next to the Joker later make an appearance in the scene where the Enchantress offers Harley her heart's desire, and she imagines a life of domestic bliss with her beloved Mistah J, with their babies wearing the onesies.
How the circle of knives represents Harley in the mind of the Joker is up for debate. Perhaps he fears that his affection for Harley makes her dangerous to him, and thus views her as a circle of knives drawing closer, threatening to destroy him.
This sentiment of Joker being attracted towards Harley and simultaneously hating the fact that she has made him care for her is also played out in the scene where Harley willingly throws herself into a pit of acid on Joker's command. After trying to walk away from the whole thing, Joker almost unwillingly jumps in after her and rescues her, proving that she means more to him than he can bring himself to admit.
From his explanation, it is clear that Ayer had a solid backstory and reasoning behind the script for Suicide Squad, which unfortunately did not translate very well to the big screen. But now that James Gunn has taken over directorial duties on the sequel, there is a chance to see a Suicide Squad film that gets critical acclaim in addition to minting money at the box office. David Ayer on Twitter brings us this news.