batman movie set in joker's gotham

As we head into the next phase of awards season, Joker is still a serious contender for multiple awards – first at this weekend’s Golden Globes, and then it’s setting its sights on Oscars. And while we’re still waiting on an official announcement about a possible sequel, director Todd Phillips has suggested that he’d like to see a separate Batman movie set in Joker‘s Gotham City. But what might that look like?

A Variety interviewer spoke with Phillips before the director accepted an award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and tried to get Phillips to spill details about a possible sequel. When the filmmaker didn’t offer anything concrete about that, the interviewer followed up by expressing an interest in seeing more of that version of New York – which is when Phillips suggested that he wants to see The Dark Knight wandering through that version of the city:

“Yeah, it’s just a beautiful Gotham. What I would like to see somebody tackle is what Batman looks like from that Gotham.”

When the interviewer freaked out and somehow misinterpreted Phillips’ remarks as an active pitch instead of just an off-the-cuff statement of interest, the director had to quickly step in and clarify:

“I’m not doing it. I’m saying, the whole – 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 comment.”

Even though I didn’t really care for the grimy, 1980s, Scorsese-inspired setting of Joker (or, frankly, the movie as a whole), Phillips raises an interesting idea: exactly how much of Batman’s identity is shaped by his specific surroundings? In this particular Gotham, does the city continue to rapidly decline as the young Bruce Wayne we saw in Joker grows up? Does that level to which it falls into disrepair and grunginess impact how intense Batman becomes as a crimefighter? Or, perhaps more interestingly, does Batman even have to be Bruce Wayne at all? Could a different person who was affected by the events in Joker‘s climax take up the mantle immediately, instead of waiting for young Bruce to come of age?

Personally, I’d rather see a filmmaker come along with compelling answers to any of those questions instead of watching Joaquin Phoenix inhabit the Arthur Fleck/Joker character again in a sequel (even though he was great the first time around). What do you think?

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