David Fincher, known for directing Se7ven, Fight Club, The Social Network, Gone Girl, and the Mindhunter TV series, isn’t a fan of the Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Phillips Joker movie as he refers to it as “a betrayal of the mentally ill” and insinuates it was only a success because of Batman.
Fincher spoke with The Daily Telegraph offering:
“Nobody would have thought they had a shot at a giant hit with Joker had The Dark Knight not been as massive as it was. I don’t think anyone would have looked at that material and thought, ‘Yeah, let’s take [Taxi Driver’s] Travis Bickle and [The King of Comedy’s] Rupert Pupkin and conflate them, then trap him in a betrayal of the mentally ill, and trot it out for a billion dollars.”
Fincher is wrong about Joker
Fincher is wrong about Joker as it is known the flick actually had a tough enough time getting made (see below), and it should also be said that no one expected it to make a billion dollars at the box office, it just happened to be a really good movie and received great word of mouth.
While Fincher attacks Phillips’ Joker, ironically he compares Joker to his popular Fight Club movie which Fincher says had no confidence behind it, something also claimed about Joker, so again, Fincher is just wrong with his comments and comes off as bitter and resentful:
He contrasts Warner Bros’ Oscar-focused early confidence in Joker with the mood of blood-draining panic at an early screening of Fight Club at Fox, “where the general view afterwards among the studio types was, ‘Our careers are over.’ The fact we got that film made in 1999 is still, to my mind, a miracle.”
Fincher’s bitterness continues as he says all the studios want is billion-dollar blockbusters, which is why he is working with Netflix, where he says Netflix focuses on “culture.” It probably should be said the theatrical model is a lot different than the streaming model, which already has a built-in subscriber user base and doesn’t necessarily have to rely on sales, so something like a Netflix can take on a lot more gambles:
The reality of our current situation is that the five families don’t want to make anything that can’t make them a billion dollars. None of them want to be in the medium-priced challenging content business. And that cleaves off exactly the kind of movies I make. What the streamers are doing is providing a platform for the kind of cinema that actually reflects our culture and wrestles with big ideas: where things are, what people are anxious and unsure about. Those are the kinds of movies that would have been dead on arrival five years ago.”
David Fincher not a fan of Marvel and superhero movies
Fincher has also previously stated he has problems with Marvel, so it seems he obviously is not a fan of the popular superhero genre of movies:
“Look, many people at studios are still fighting the good fight. There are executives there who are friends of mine. But if you want to make studio movies, you stay in their lanes, which are romantic comedy, affliction Oscar bait, Spandex summer, superhero tentpole, moderately budgeted sequel.”
“Look, there’s a very large talent pool of people who are—don’t feel there’s much for them in terms of sustenance (working for Marvel),” said Fincher, prompting the listeners to laugh. “And I think that if we can make a playground for them that is thoughtful, adult, interesting, complex, challenging stories and figure out ways to pull them into it, there’s a chance at something that isn’t lassoed and hogtied by three acts. And there’s something else that doesn’t have to be 22-minute half hour or have a cliffhanger. I think it is an exciting time.”
It’s actually pretty sad that Fincher doesn’t like the Joker movie as it’s not your typical billion-dollar superhero flick, and again, took everyone by surprise by its success and how good it was.
Warner Bros. tried to sabotage Joker
Regarding Todd Phillips and the Joker movie, it’s actually known that Warner Bros. gave the flick such a small budget that they hoped Phillips wouldn’t make the movie, again which shows WB had zero confidence in the project.
Ironically, Warners thought the Phillips project would be a small movie and, nervous about its dark tone, greenlit the pic reluctantly, with a small budget that some at the studio hoped would discourage Phillips from making it.
We can also add that Jared Leto tried to stop the movie from getting made and tried to kill it.
Has that happened to any Fincher movie?
Far-left doesn’t like Joker
Maybe what is really going on with Fincher is that it has to do with a liberal viewpoint, as Phillips has made it known he found it difficult to make comedies due to “woke” Hollywood, and Joker was also attacked by the left.
From The Wrap and Vanity Fair back in October of 2019:
“I think it’s because outrage is a commodity, I think it’s something that has been a commodity for a while,” Phillips told The Wrap. “What’s outstanding to me in this discourse in this movie is how easily the far left can sound like the far right when it suits their agenda. It’s really been eye-opening for me.”
Phillips had found it increasingly difficult, he says, to make comedies in the new “woke” Hollywood, and his brand of irreverent bro humor has lost favor.
“Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture,” he says. “There were articles written about why comedies don’t work anymore—I’ll tell you why, because all the f-cking funny guys are like, ‘F-ck this shit, because I don’t want to offend you.’ It’s hard to argue with 30 million people on Twitter. You just can’t do it, right? So you just go, ‘I’m out.’ I’m out, and you know what? With all my comedies—I think that what comedies in general all have in common—is they’re irreverent. So I go, ‘How do I do something irreverent, but f-ck comedy? Oh I know, let’s take the comic book movie universe and turn it on its head with this.’ And so that’s really where that came from.”
In the end, Phillips does get the last laugh as Joker went on to make over $738 million in the U.S. and over $1 billion at the box office with a sequel said to be in the works.