Joker was such a massive hit in 2019, it's hard to even imagine that level of success after we've seen two dismal box office years in a row.
The movie made $1,074,419,384 at the global box office and was a phenomenon. From the Cannes ovations to the worry it was "dangerous to see the movie opening night," Joker caused an actual stir.
That all obviously paid off, and it would be hard to replicate, but none of it would have happened without the dedicated writing of Todd Phillips and Scott Silver, who teamed up to build a world that looked much like our own with twisted consequences.
I think it's the perfect screenplay to look at as we dissect what made it popular, how it made old tropes feel new, and how it left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape and at the box office.
Read and download the Joker script PDF right here.
Then check out this video from Behind the Curtain and let's chat after the jump.
3 Lessons from the Joker Script PDF Download
After watching that video and learning how they made the Joker movie, I thought we should see what lessons we can glean as an audience to help all this stuff come together. So let's take a look at the top three.
1. Learn from the Greats
One of the undeniably cool things about this script is that it borrows from Taxi Driver and King of Comedy.
These special Martin Scorsese movies are masterworks of storytelling and directing. I know a lot of people knocked this movie for stealing from them, but they're just wrong. This was an excellent homage to the classics. They took the framework of these movies and added something that resonated with today.
There was some pastiche and flavor that made this movie feel familiar but still unique.
2. Define Your Characters
Another special part of Joker was how well it defined its characters. The titular character was someone we saw developed over the course of the film. We witnessed the arc of the Joker. But aside from him, we saw a world of selfish men who hoarded resources, and even helpful women who were dragged down for trusting the wrong people. There was a lot of worldbuilding that contributed to the artistry of the character work here.
3. What Makes a Story Relevant Today?
We touched on this in the learning from the masters, but the thing that made Joker so popular was that it was about what we see in the world now. It had a society crumbling, mental health and job placement faltering, and that feeling that the rich aristocracy in this country didn't care about its bastard sons. It was deep and had a lot to say. When you write, think about what your words have to say about the world today.
So ask yourself, why are we telling this story now? What's your point of view on current events and how does that point of view translate through your movie? How does it welcome people who do not usually connect?
Let me know what you think of all this in the comments.