The Abridged Script
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.
(pile of bloody goop)
What a horrible day.
INT. SOCIAL WORKER'S OFFICE
We ZOOM IN REAL TIGHT on JOAQUIN as he LAUGHS.
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
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
And I see our time is up. Laters!
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.
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!
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.
Thomas Wayne? I thought we weren't leaning on Bat-
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!
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.
Sure! I live with my Mom and have never murdered ANYBODY, not ever.
INT. CLOWN COMPANY
The next day JOAQUIN is preparing from work when fellow clown GLENN FLESHLER approaches him.
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.
So you gotta pay for the sign or you're fired. I sure hope THIS isn't the last straw that makes you become...
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?"
True enough. Oh just one last thing before you leave.
(cranks Joaquin's testicles through lasagna press)
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.
Hi I'm your creepy neighbour? Maybe we could watch Taxi Driver together sometime.
(fingerguns himself in the head)
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!
Hey, I thought I'd stop by to say how charming it is that you creepily stalked me all day.
This IS happening in your imagination, right?
Makes no fucking sense otherwise. So, figment, you wanna come see my doubtlessly horrible standup?
INT. LATE NIGHT COMEDY JAM
JOAQUIN takes the stage with his notebook as IMAGINARY ZAZIE looks on admiringly.
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
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!
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.
Well that sucked. I'll have to really ace my next gig-
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)
(writhes in pain)
This truly is a terrible, horrible, no good day.
On the subway a WOMAN gets harassed by three WALL STREET ASSHOLES.
Wall Street? I thought Gotham had its own fictional financial centre. Or at least it should, right?
Fuck you CLOWN! Let's beat this CLOWN up, you fucking CLOWN!
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!
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.
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!
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?!?
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!!
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!!
Ah, young Bruce Wayne. I look forward to being your mortal enemy when I'm 65 years old.
Oi, piss off! We were promised a stand-alone Joker story, you tosser!
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-
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.
What a terrible, horrible, no good, VERY VERY bad day!
At hospital JOAQUIN is confronted by two DETECTIVES.
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?
Why of course, my alibi is GO FUCK YOURSELLLFFFF
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.
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.
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.
Your Mom's crazy and you're not my son, so there!
Yeah that's the same thing Alfred said, wow that scene really was pointless. So you're saying my mental illness is hereditary?
Ah but I'm adding the extra detail that you were adopted, ha ha!
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.
Hm, what classic comic book tropes can we fill out these scenes with...
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!
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...
Uh... oh man, I don't think you want to see this.
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.
I'll be the judge of that!
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
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-
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.
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.
Is this whole movie set in 1981 just so that I didn't have to change my look from GLOW? Thanks guys!
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.
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?
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!
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!
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!!
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.
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!!
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.
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.
Wow, you're miserable as shit. Maybe you should go see that Joker movie, that might cheer you up.
But doctor... I AM JOKER.
I mean as long as we're ripping shit off.
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-
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
THE END, IN BIG FLOWERY IRONIC FONT