In The People’s Joker’ transgender filmmaker Vera Drew tells a fictionalized and DC Universe (!) version of her own life story. The Joker we first meet here as a battered boy who doesn’t feel comfortable in his body and later tries to start a comedy career in a Gotham City where Batman has criminalized almost all public comedy.
The film is not only a queer low-budget coming-of-age film, but also a parody of the Batman universe with many allusions to earlier ones Joker-Appearances and all sorts of other DC references. Already in the trailer, for example, Jared Leto’s and Joaquin Phoenix’ Joker- Interpretations targeted. In the same trailer it can also be read in black and white that neither the comic forge DC nor its parent company Warner Bros. Discovery has authorized the factory.
Nevertheless, “The People’s Joker’ now has its world premiere at the renowned Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which is currently taking place in Canada. But it will stay with this one demonstration (at least for the time being). As US trade journals unanimously report, Vera Drew and her team withdrew the film from the festival due to rights issues, although three more screenings were actually planned there.
Details on the background to this decision are not yet available. The suspicion is of course obvious that Warner has come around the corner with a cease and desist order due to unauthorized use of its own brands. An official confirmation of this is still pending. So far, the company has not commented publicly on the project and the demonstrations that have now been canceled.
But why was it possible to implement and show “The People’s Joker” come? In her project, Vera Drew relies on the applicable in the USA, among other places Fair Use Doctrine. This states that copyrighted material may be used within a certain framework for the purpose of criticism, comment, reporting, education or science.
This also includes parodies, for example, which have to be very closely linked to the original. Otherwise they would be considered illegal satire. Drew also emphasizes that, apart from a few sequences with licensed archive material, her film consists entirely of her own recordings and animations and that the use of protected names and trademarks has only been done in an autobiographical context. Scenes from “Joker’ with Joaquin Phoenix were removed before the premiere.
However, there are always cases where it is questionable whether they really meet the fair use requirements, and which are therefore examined very closely to that effect. That should now also apply to “The People’s Joker” happen. In the run-up to the world premiere, Vera Drew indicated that there could be problems with her film with a somewhat cryptic tweet:
Now it remains to be seen whether “The People’s Joker’ will once again see the light of day in the original or perhaps in an adapted form. A new “Joker’ movie, which we’ll definitely see soon, is the sequel to the aforementioned world hit ‘Joker’ with Joaquin Phoenix: ‘Joker 2: Folie À Deux, which will be a musical (!) starring Lady Gaga as Phoenix’s co-star, is slated to hit theaters on October 3, 2024.