"A happy face, yes... that contrasts with my true, sad face. I shall be known as... TWO-FACE wait that's not right."

JOKER

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

INT. RENT-A-CLOWN COMPANY

JOAQUIN PHOENIX sullenly applies his CLOWN MAKEUP. He jams his FINGERS into his mouth and makes an OVERSIZED SMILE, but then does an OVERSIZED FROWN. In conclusion, JOAQUIN is a land of contrasts.

EXT. GOTHAM CITY, THE YEAR OF OUR MARTIN NINETEEN-HUNDRED-SCORSESE-ONE

JOAQUIN holds an ADVERTISING SIGN in his CLOWN costume and dances. But EVIL FUCKERS steal his SIGN and run off! JOAQUIN chases them but they WRECK the sign, BEAT him up, KICK him while he's down, make him drink NEW COKE, scramble his RUBIK'S CUBE, kick him in the NARDS, sell his UNDERDOG SUMMER CAMP to EVIL CONDO DEVELOPERS, SHIT on him, and finally OPEN THE ARK OF THE COVENANT RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM MAKING HIS ENTIRE FACE MELT OFF AND HIS HEAD EXPLODE.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

(pile of bloody goop)

What a horrible day.

INT. SOCIAL WORKER'S OFFICE

We ZOOM IN REAL TIGHT on JOAQUIN as he LAUGHS.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

HAHAHAHA! Ha ha ha ha. HA HA HA ha ha. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. Ha ha ha ha HA HA HA HA HA

(looks around)

Oh shit are we filming? That was my vocal warmup. Sorry. Let's begin the scene.

(takes deep breath)

HA HA HA ha ha ha ha HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HA ha HA ha HA HA HA HA ha ha HA HA HA ha

SOCIAL WORKER

And I see our time is up. Laters!

EXT. GOTHAM

JOAQUIN makes his miserable way back home, taking the MOCKERY LINE subway to his JEERING BUS then walking down GOFUCKYOURSELF AVENUE until he reaches the corner of YOUSUCKASSHOLE BOULEVARD. Waiting for him at home is his Mom, FRANCES CONROY.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Hey Mom. Check out how emaciated I got myself for this role!

(reveals gaping cavity instead of stomach)

I bet I can cram an Oscar, Golden Globe, and SAG Award in there, no problem!

FRANCES CONROY

That's wonderful sweetheart. And I know we live in a shithole, but don't worry, once my former employer Thomas Wayne gets elected Mayor and has unrivaled political AND financial power, he'll finally be able to save us.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Thomas Wayne? I thought we weren't leaning on Bat-

FRANCES CONROY

Hush dear, let's watch TV.

TELEVISION NEWS ANCHOR

Reports continue to come in about GIANT RATS overtaking Gotham's sewers. You heard right, GIANT RATS. We here at Gotham News are sure excited to see how THAT comes into play later on!

(handed bulletin)

I've just been informed that might only be as Easter Egg for a character called "Ratcatcher", sorry if anyone not 3000% up on their Bat-lore got their hopes up for no reason.

Later that night, they watch TALK SHOW HOST ROBERT DE NIRO hosting his SUPER POPULAR COMEDY LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW AND HEY HAVE YOU SEEN SCORSESE'S KING OF COMEDY? IT'S REALLY GOOD! Anyway JOAQUIN imagines himself being in the AUDIENCE.

ROBERT DE NIRO

Why look who's here everyone, it's Joaquin! Since each and every scene of this movie has to be all about you, please tell us about yourself.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Sure! I live with my Mom and have never murdered ANYBODY, not ever.

(thunderous applause!)

INT. CLOWN COMPANY

The next day JOAQUIN is preparing from work when fellow clown GLENN FLESHLER approaches him.

GLENN FLESHLER

I heard what happened and I thought you could use this.

(hands over gun in paper bag)

See, now you'll owe ME one some day. I figure giving firearms to people who creep me the fuck out is the BEST way to stockpile future favours. Heh heh.

GLENN proceeds to tell a derogatory LITTLE PERSON JOKE because fellow clown LEIGH GILL happens to be a LITTLE PERSON, and gosh it's so great we set this in 1981 so we could hear some awesome old-timey derogatory jokes, and nobody had to burn any brain cells thinking up NEW JOKES. JOAQUIN is called in to see his BOSS.

BOSS

So you gotta pay for the sign or you're fired. I sure hope THIS isn't the last straw that makes you become...

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Whaddya mean "become"? I started out mentally ill, delusional, maniacally laughing, glaring evilly at people who wrong me. The question is more "how long before I decide to wear a suit that fits?"

BOSS

True enough. Oh just one last thing before you leave.

(cranks Joaquin's testicles through lasagna press)

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

What a terrible, horrible day.

INT. JOAQUIN'S BUILDING

In the CRAPPY ELEVATOR that uses CLUMPS OF FISHING LURES as BUTTONS, JOAQUIN meets ZAZIE BEETZ and her kid.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Hi I'm your creepy neighbour? Maybe we could watch Taxi Driver together sometime.

(fingerguns himself in the head)

ZAZIE BEETZ

Um.

JOAQUIN spends the next 24 hours following ZAZIE everywhere she goes, lurking at an appropriately menacing distance. That night there's a knock on JOAQUIN'S door!

ZAZIE BEETZ

Hey, I thought I'd stop by to say how charming it is that you creepily stalked me all day.

(pause)

This IS happening in your imagination, right?

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

(shrugs)

Makes no fucking sense otherwise. So, figment, you wanna come see my doubtlessly horrible standup?

ZAZIE BEETZ

Well OBVIOUSLY!

INT. LATE NIGHT COMEDY JAM

JOAQUIN takes the stage with his notebook as IMAGINARY ZAZIE looks on admiringly.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Well let's get this crowd warmed up. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA HA hahahaha HA HA HA ha ha ha HAHAHA ha ha ha ha ha

(breathes)

Okay now for jokes. I think the Waynes should do a stage show where they all fuck each other, it could be called the Aristo-Bats! Huh? Huh?

But after this rough start it all goes AMAZINGLY WELL, OR SO IT MIGHT SEEM!

INT. CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL, THE NEXT DAY

JOAQUIN is doing his CLOWN ACT for the sick children when he drops his GUN!

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Oh shit! Why the fuck wasn't that in my bag? Was I worried one of these deathly ill kids was gonna jump me?

JOAQUIN and his GUN are thrown out of the HOSPITAL.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Well that sucked. I'll have to really ace my next gig-

(gets fired)

Shit. At least I can vent to my social work-

(social program gets cut)

SHIT. At least I can have a long lick of this ice cream co-

(ice cream splats onto ground)

SHIT. It's okay, just take a deep breath-

(deep breath punches him in the nads)

FUCKING HELL.

(writhes in pain)

This truly is a terrible, horrible, no good day.

INT. SUBWAY

On the subway a WOMAN gets harassed by three WALL STREET ASSHOLES.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Wall Street? I thought Gotham had its own fictional financial centre. Or at least it should, right?

ASSHOLES

Fuck you CLOWN! Let's beat this CLOWN up, you fucking CLOWN!

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

(getting pummelled)

This has really been a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.

However JOAQUIN draws his GUN and SHOOTS two of the assholes, then uses a FRENCH CONNECTION maneuver to murder the THIRD ASSHOLE! Invigorated, JOAQUIN does some interpretive dance and then RUNS all the way to ZAZIE'S door, and when she answers to find a breathless bloody creepazoid in clown makeup she immediately begins MAKING OUT with him!

ZAZIE BEETZ

Oh I DAMN WELL better be imaginary NOW.

INT. JOAQUIN'S APARTMENT, THE NEXT DAY

JOAQUIN and FRANCES watch a press conference with Thomas Wayne, played by BRETT CULLEN.

BRETT CULLEN

So some clown shot three Wall St guys. And now other clowns think this clown is some kind of hero. Well I think those clowns are just CLOWNS! Yeah that's right, all you fucking downtrodden poors, you're all CLOWNS, you hear me?! CLOWNS!!! Vote Wayne!

FRANCES CONROY

That reminds me I wrote a new letter to Brett. You don't mind mailing that and not even slightly wondering what's inside, do you? Thanks!

However JOAQUIN opens the letter and in it, FRANCES says that he is BRETT'S SON, WHAAAA?!?

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Oh come on, what is this, fucking Star Wars? Not everyone has to be related to everyone else dammit!! Seriously Mom that's just fucking cheesy!!

(storms out)

EXT. STATELY WAYNE MANOR, HOLY SHIT WE REALLY ARE GOING THERE, BOTH LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY, HUH

JOAQUIN approaches the manor and finds CHILD BRUCE WAYNE who slides down a POLE, HOLY FORESHADOWING BATMAN!!

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Ah, young Bruce Wayne. I look forward to being your mortal enemy when I'm 65 years old.

ALFRED

Oi, piss off! We were promised a stand-alone Joker story, you tosser!

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

I'm not the one who decided I should be Batman's fucking brother! Oh God, is this a "our Dad has the same name" setup? Because-

ALFRED

Well it just so happens your Mom is crazy and you're NOT related to Batman after all! So there!

JOAQUIN goes to confront his MOM only to find she's been taken to hospital with a STROKE.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

What a terrible, horrible, no good, VERY VERY bad day!

EXT. HOSPITAL

At hospital JOAQUIN is confronted by two DETECTIVES.

DETECTIVE

We're working the clown shooter case. So we heard that you, a clown, got fired for having a gun, the day of the shooting. And taking one fucking look at you shows you're a total mess. Do you have an alibi or anything?

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Why of course, my alibi is GO FUCK YOURSELLLFFFF

(grabs crotch)

(flips bird)

(leaves)

DETECTIVE

Eh whatcha gonna do.

In FRANCES'S room they watch the new episode of ROBERT DE NIRO'S SHOW.

ROBERT DE NIRO

Tonight we have a clip of some awful open mike, which would make sense in 2019 as a cellphone video, but much less so in 1981. Anyway here is this guy who sucks.

We see the actual clip of JOAQUIN'S standup which does, indeed, SUCK. Everyone LAUGHS DERISIVELY and ROBERT brings out a life-size CUTOUT of JOAQUIN for the entire audience to PISS onto.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Why TRULY this is... okay this day is just shit.

INT. FANCY PANTS THEATRE

JOAQUIN goes to a gala screening of a CHARLIE CHAPLIN film instead of a BUSTER KEATON one, which is a mildly surprising choice for a movie making use of the BATMAN ANIMATED SERIES FONT not to go with KEATON. JOAQUIN confronts BRETT CULLEN in the bathroom.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

I demand answers! I didn't disguise myself as an usher for nothing, although maybe I did given the lack of any security around here.

BRETT CULLEN

Your Mom's crazy and you're not my son, so there!

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Yeah that's the same thing Alfred said, wow that scene really was pointless. So you're saying my mental illness is hereditary?

BRETT CULLEN

Ah but I'm adding the extra detail that you were adopted, ha ha!

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

So it's NOT inherited, it's just a coincidence we're both mentally ill? Do they even let mentally ill people adopt? I'm gonna have to go sort this whole thing out for myself I think.

INT. BACK AT JOAQUIN'S

JOAQUIN dramatically emotes around the apartment.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Hm, what classic comic book tropes can we fill out these scenes with...

(thinks)

Oh hey, fridging! That's a popular one.

(stuff self inside fridge)

Am I doing it right?

Just then the PHONE rings and after checking the earpiece for glued-on THUMBTACKS, JOAQUIN answers. It's a call from the DE NIRO SHOW!

ASSISTANT

Yes, that video of your lousy act has gone viral, so we'd love to book you! Oh wait, it's 1981, shit. I mean, um, we've been getting lots of phone calls about how shitty your standup is, so ah, please come be shitty on our program?

INT. ARKHAM MEDICAL FACILITY

Intent on finding the truth about his past, JOAQUIN goes to ARKHAM and talks to special guest clerk BRYAN TYREE HENRY!

BRYAN TYREE HENRY

Normally I wouldn't hand files over, but in your case I can make an exception...

(opens file)

Uh... oh man, I don't think you want to see this.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Because of how incredibly horrible and twisted it is? Never before imagined depths of...

BRYAN TYREE HENRY

Not that, it's just... it's so hacky.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

I'll be the judge of that!

(snatches file)

Wow... so my Mom WAS crazy, AND I was adopted, AND I was abused as a child?!? Fuck that is like every lazy-ass TV cliche about "where do serial killers come from" all blended up into a bullshit trope smoothie. And that's it?

BRYAN TYREE HENRY

Yep.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

(sighs)

Why couldn't I have just fallen into a vat of acid.

Enraged by the rote nature of the revelations, JOAQUIN goes back to the hospital and flat-out MURDERS his MOM, which alerts NOBODY AT ALL so... maybe it didn't happen? Then he visits ZAZIE BEETZ who in REALITY... brace yourselves... ISN'T HIS GIRLFRIEND AT ALL DUN DUN DUNNNN and we don't see how THAT resolves, but then again, whatever you think happened maybe didn't happen anyway, wheeeee!!

INT. JOAQUIN'S APARTMENT

JOAQUIN is applying super fast-acting green dye to his HAIR when his old co-clowns GLENN and LEIGH pay him a visit.

GLENN FLESHLER

Hey buddy, just wanted to see how you were holding onto that gun, and how you're doing with not saying where you got it.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Did you know that in Dark Knight we never actually SEE that guy get stabbed right in the fucking eye? I'd say we need to fix THAT pronto!

(stabs Glenn RIGHT IN THE FUCKING EYE)

LEIGH GILL

Oh SHIT! Plus I'm too short to undo the door latch, I'm trapped! Um, are there some audience people laughing at my imminent demise? Not cool.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Don't worry Leigh. You were never mean to me so I'll let you go. Though by the end of the movie I'm murdering innocent people for no reason, not sure what changes my mind on that score.

LEIGH GILL

Phew! Now I can get the fuck out of here and call the cops to come raid this place!! Or, alternatively, alert those two detectives to perhaps trail you at a distance. Maybe I'll flip a coin.

EXT. GOTHAM CITY

JOAQUIN triumphantly parades out of his building finally in FULL JOKER COSTUME! He swaggers over to his favourite PUBLIC STEPS and celebrates this HUGE CULMINATING MOMENT by doing a bunch of random dance moves haphazardly edited to pedophile music.

DETECTIVE #1

Oh hey THERE he is! Could have grabbed him sooner if he weren't keeping such a low profile.

The DETECTIVES RUN TOWARDS JOAQUIN who RUNS AWAY! The CHASE leads onto a crowded subway full of people in CLOWN MASKS, on their way to a HUGE PUBLIC PROTEST.

DETECTIVE #2

We got him now. These decent citizens will surely aid us in capturing the fugitive who's inspired them! Ahem, please clear the way! Perhaps somebody could block Joaquin's exit door? Excuse me but-

(swarmed)

(pulverized)

INT. TELEVISION STUDIO

JOAQUIN arrives to do the SHOW and is greeted by ROBERT and MARC MARON.

ROBERT DE NIRO

Here's the program. First, we'll skip over my opening monologue, since that would mean referring to tonight's headlines which are all variants of "KILLER CLOWN IDENTIFIED, COPS LAUNCH CITY-WIDE MANHUNT FOR GUY WHO IS RIGHT OVER THERE". So instead we'll go right to the guests from The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel, and then you.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

That's when I come out and tell jokes?

ROBERT DE NIRO

No because they suck. Instead we'll just talk about how you have no talent and how you suck. And I have no idea if you can even hold up your end of a conversation, so this might be the worst segment in talk show history for all I know. This is just a shitty idea all the way through.

MARC MARON

Is this whole movie set in 1981 just so that I didn't have to change my look from GLOW? Thanks guys!

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Fine, fine. But I have one question first... do you bleed? No wait. Do you dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? Shit that's not it either. Do you know where I got these scars? FUCK hang on, I'll get it eventually. Oh right, I remember now.

(deep breath)

When you bring me out... will you be talking to me? Are you talking AW DAMMIT NEVER MIND I'LL SEE YOU OUT THERE.

The SHOW begins, JOAQUIN is introduced, and AT LONG FUCKING LAST WE'VE CAUGHT UP TO THE END OF THE TRAILERS, NOW MAYBE FINALLY WE'LL HAVE SOME STORY BEATS WE HADN'T ALREADY FIGURED OUT, NOT HOLDING MY BREATH THOUGH

ROBERT DE NIRO

Welcome! Yes audience, it's the shitty comic you all apparently demanded to see more of. How's it going?

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Been a busy week. I murdered a co-worker, those three subway dudes, maybe my Mom. Plus I've done, like, a LOT of acting, like SO MUCH. Not sure what the point of it all is though.

ROBERT DE NIRO

What?! You killed those fine young men?! That's despicable!

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

I think it's a statement on society or something, except you can't trust anything that happened in the movie since it's 1000% from my unreliable point of view. So maybe it's a character study, except so reductive and superficial that it's more of a character stare-at.

ROBERT DE NIRO

None of this is an excuse for murdering those fine young men!

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

A dissertation on mental illness perhaps? If by "dissertation" you mean "watch Joaquin act crazy, awful thing happens to Joaquin, he acts crazy some more, repeat".

ROBERT DE NIRO

Listen punk, you're gonna answer for the death of those fine young men, dammit!!

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Or, just strip away all the shout-outs, references, and Bat-Easter-eggs, and it's a pretty basic "miserable loser gets shit on non-stop until he blows up" story. Speaking of which.

(shoots De Niro)

Everyone PANICS except the other GUESTS and some old footage of CLINT EASTWOOD! In the ensuing confusion JOAQUIN goes nowhere and is easily arrested.

EXT. GOTHAM

JOAQUIN is driven around in a COP CAR in a way which is vaguely reminiscent of something, maybe TWITTER has figured out what. But he is SLAMMED INTO by a stolen AMBULANCE and FREED!!

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Wow, they're celebrating me as their hero! Which I already noticed, so I guess the cops can re-arrest me now and this dramatic escape didn't really mean much.

Meanwhile, not far away is a MOVIE THEATRE where we discover that BRETT CULLEN has decided to take his family to the movies RIGHT SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF AN CITY-WIDE ANGRY-MOB PROTEST AIMED SPECIFICALLY AT HIM, because THIS version of Thomas Wayne is A COMPLETE FUCKING IDIOT. Seriously, GREAT FUCKING JOB THERE MISTER WAYNE.

BRETT CULLEN

Quick, it'll be far safer in that dark alleyway... oh c'mon, really?!?

YES REALLY. Because what could fit better in this cutting-edge no-holds-barred film than ONCE MORE YET FUCKING AGAIN SEEING BATMAN'S PARENTS GET SHOT IN SLOW MOTION... OH AND THERE GO THE PEARLS, OF FUCKING COURSE CAN'T LEAVE THAT OUT, will this poor woman EVER reach the grave with her necklace intact.

INT. ARKHAM MENTAL INSTITUTION

Some time later, JOAQUIN talks to his NEW THERAPIST.

THERAPIST

Wow, you're miserable as shit. Maybe you should go see that Joker movie, that might cheer you up.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

But doctor... I AM JOKER.

(pause)

I mean as long as we're ripping shit off.

THERAPIST

Yeah, go for it. Though I hear maybe they're gonna make it like Batman's Joker is a copycat of YOUR Joker, so maybe you're not, like, the REAL Joker if we presume that "being Batman's nemesis" is a prerequisite of being the TRUE-

JOAQUIN PHOENIX

God DAMMIT this was supposed to be a bold new definitive Joker movie, NOW you're saying WE WENT THROUGH ALL THIS SHIT AND MAYBE I'M NOT EVEN THE PROPER FUCKING JOKER

(murders)

THE END, IN BIG FLOWERY IRONIC FONT

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