When & Where Does ‘Joker’ (2019) Take Place?


When ‘Joker’ was announced, fans were skeptical of a Joker film without Batman. However, when it came out, it was both a critical and financial success and was popular with audiences and critics alike. Instead of your typical run-of-the-mill comic book movie, ‘Joker’ was a dark, gritty, and serious story focused on mental illness and Arthur Fleck’s descent into madness. Todd Phillips, the director, chose a specific time and location, which helped add to the gritty nature of the film. So, here’s when and where ‘Joker’ takes place. 

‘Joker ‘takes place in 1981 and is set in a Gotham heavily inspired by New York. This is because Todd Phillips wanted to keep this movie separate from any other DC properties and have it not be impacted by outside stories. The reason New York inspired Gotham was due to the films that inspired the movie and also to convey how gritty this version of Gotham is. While there are easter eggs to other characters, it is a self-contained story that is a part of DC’s Elseworlds films. 

Now that we have briefly discussed when and where ‘Joker’ takes place, let’s analyze it in more detail! If you are interested in more, stay with us and keep reading!

Why is ‘Joker’ set in 1981?

‘Joker’ was set in 1981 because Todd Phillips did not want it connected to any other DC films. This meant he was not tied down by any pre-existing lore and had full free reign to do whatever he wanted with the story.  Another reason it was set in this year was because of the films it was inspired by.

Todd Phillips said that he was inspired by movies like ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘The King of Comedy’ which both came out when’ Joker’ was set.  It gave him the aesthetic of a rough and gritty New York that he would use as inspiration for his Gotham City. 

How old is Arthur Fleck?

During the film, it is revealed through Arthur Fleck’s adoption papers that he was born in 1946, making him 35 during the movie’s events. This is almost a decade younger than Joaquin Phoenix was at the time of filming, which makes sense as, due to Fleck’s weight and health, he actually looks a lot older than he is.

Being 35 makes him almost 25 years older than Bruce Wayne in the film, who is roughly 8-10 years old. This was an intentional decision by Todd Phillips, as he didn’t want this version of the Joker used in any other upcoming Batman films.

Near the movie’s end, we see Thomas and Martha Wayne get killed by one of the Joker’s fans. This implies that Bruce Wayne would become Batman, but with the age difference, it would be a 25-30-year-old Batman going up against a 55-60-year-old Joker. This would have been a massive age gap between the characters as they are usually roughly the same age in the comics, with Joker being ten years older at the most. 


All 8 Batman Movies with Joker, Ranked

Where does ‘Joker’ take place?

Like any story about the Clown Prince of Crime, ‘Joker’ occurs in Gotham City. This Gotham is not like anything we have seen on screen before, with it being heavily inspired by 1980s New York City. The reason for it looking like New York was again to have it be separate from other DC movies.

Phillips wanted Gotham to look gritty, heavily inspired by ‘Taxi Driver.’ He ensured that the walls would always be covered in graffiti and the alleyways looked dirty and dangerous. Garbage bags were lying around everywhere in the city, which was to give the aesthetic of an abandoned city. 

One major thing Todd Phillips wanted was to have plenty of nice muscle cars on set. This was to show a distinction between the rich and the poor in Gotham, a major plot point in the film. Even though the city was made to look disgusting and dangerous, Phillip’s made sure there were a ton of fancy muscle cars on set. This was to simultaneously make Gotham seem horrible and beautiful, but with it slowly decaying more and more through time. This is also alluded to when the doctor said that the city had cut funds for Fleck’s treatment to further show the city falling under.

What’s next for ‘Joker’?

Even though Todd Phillips was adamant there would not be any sequels, the second film has been shot and is now in post-production. ‘Joker: Folie à Dexu’ is set to be released in 2024, with Joaquin Phoenix reprising his role and starring opposite Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn. While it is possible we do get more films with this version of Joker, it is very unlikely we will ever see him go up against a version of Batman.  However, it was also said there would never be a sequel, so you never know what the future holds!

Have anything to add? Let us know in the comments! 

Liked this article? Follow us on Facebook, Threads, and X to stay updated with the latest news.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments