David Fincher Recent comments about Todd Phillip’s Joker have sparked some controversy on social media. He also said that the movie gave him flashbacks to working on Fight Club. Fincher had a very difficult time trying to pitch the 1999 movie to studios, which he has talked about numerous times. The movie dealt with mental illness in a way that most people were not used to seeing on the big screen, and to many studios, it was too much of a gamble. Fast forward to 2019’s Joker, and Warner Bros. was beyond excited to get the movie, which also deals with mental illness, out into theaters, despite public backlash.
David Fincher doesn’t think that the Joker movie looked like a homerun on paper. “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 said. The director’s comments on the portrayal of mental illness have people arguing over what exactly he meant. Fincher adds, “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.”
Some social media users believe that David Fincher is bashing the way Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix handled mental illness in Joker. For people who already had a problem with the movie, Fincher’s comments seem crystal clear. But, there are just as many who believe that the director’s comments were taken out of context. You can read what one person on social media had to say below.
“I think people are taking David Fincher’s quote out of context. Is seems like he’s saying society’s betrayal of the mentally ill rather than the movie’s betrayal.”
David Fincher seems to be more blown away by the fact that Joker made over $1 billion at the box office, than the way it handled mental illness. His view on the story is not unique. The studio knew that the movie could find some success, but there wasn’t anybody who though it would cross the $1 billion mark. And for Fincher, this all hits close to home after his experience making Fight Club, which saw nothing but struggle from the studio. However, Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix took one of the most iconic comic book villains of all time to make their point. Fincher did not have that advantage when adapting Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club for the big screen.
David Fincher says that watching Joker gave him flashbacks to the early response of Fight Club. In regard to early screenings of the 1999 movie Fincher said, “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.” This is in sharp contrast to the way Warner Bros. embraced Joker 20 years later and the way that Fight Club is looked at today.
Joker has been criticized by many for its depiction of mental illness since it was released last year. Some have said the movie is full of misconceptions, while others claim that it does not harm or help mental illness, and that it’s simply entertainment. Whatever the case may be, David Fincher is pretty surprised by all of the success that surrounded Joker, despite the backlash from the public. Fincher recently directed Mank, which is now in select theaters. You can read the rest of the David Fincher interview over at The Telegraph U.K.