One of the most fascinating projects at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a queer coming-0f-age superhero movie which is inspired by characters from the DCEU. Sadly, The People’s Joker has now been removed from the TIFF line-up after just one showing due to legal issues.
The People’s Joker is written and directed by Vera Drew, who also stars in the film as the iconic Batman villain Joker. It’s a very different take on the world of Gotham City and the popular comic book characters that we see in the DC movies though, with Drew’s Joker being an aspiring clown trying to find love and understand their gender identity, while also running an illegal theatre company and battling the Dark Knight.
According to the TIFF website, The People’s Joker was pulled from the festival, claiming “the filmmaker has withdrawn this film due to rights issues.” Turns out, Warner Bros didn’t take too kindly to an experimental drama movie using its characters. In an interview with Collider, Drew opened up about the project and the disappointing decision to take it out of TIFF.
“I think this film can be 100% distributed. It is completely protected under fair use and copyright law. Like a parody law. The only thing that makes it weird in both of those categories is nobody’s ever taken characters and IP and really personalised it in this way. So I think that’s the thing that really makes it seem a lot more dangerous. I mean, I get it, look, I put an ‘illegal comic book movie’ on the poster, but that was just to get your butts in the seats,” Drew explained.
“There’s literally no reason for anybody to worry about legal repercussions with this. Without getting into it, we’ve gone really far to ensure that we could do this. I probably wouldn’t have spent two years of my life making an actually illegal Joker movie,” Drew added.
So, while this intriguing film may not see another day at TIFF, the filmmakers involved are clearly confident when it comes to the legitimacy and legality of the project. Still, we assume trying to take on Warner Bros and its team of lawyers is not a battle worth fighting.