DC Tried To Cancel This Joker Parody And Now It’s Back With A Vengeance

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

In 2022, Vera Drew premiered a queer coming-of-age DC parody at the Toronto International Film Festival. Titled The People’s Joker, the film parodies DC’s Clown Prince of Gotham, introducing the character as a transgender woman who performs improv comedy illegally in a dystopian world ruled by Batman.

The People’s Joker

While subsequent showings of the movie were planned, they were immediately canceled due to “rights issues,” presumably from DC, but now it seems Drew is back with a vengeance and ready for the world to see her movie.

Los Angeles-based distributor Altered Innocence has announced the triumphant return of Vera Drew’s genre-defying breakout feature debut, The People’s Joker.

The audacious film that parodies the Joker’s origin story is set to hit the big screen with an opening at IFC Center in NYC on April 5th, marking its return after being controversially withdrawn from the official program at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Joker And Harley Comedy Troupe

In this absurdist autobiographically-inspired dark comedy, Drew, who directed, edited, co-wrote, and stars as Joker the Harlequin, portrays an unfunny aspiring clown grappling with her gender identity.

The plot unfolds in a world where comedy has been outlawed, and Joker the Harlequin forms an illegal anti-comedy troupe to challenge the city’s caped crusader controlling Gotham.

The People’s Joker weaves a tale of self-discovery and acceptance against the backdrop of a city devoid of laughter.

Independent Film With Great Cast

the people's joker

While The People’s Joker is an independent film, it features an impressive cast, including acclaimed comedic talents like Tim Heidecker, Bob Odenkirk, Maria Bamford, and Scott Aukerman.

The film gained immediate attention at its Toronto premiere for its bold narrative and unconventional take on DC Comics‘ iconic characters.

Despite its initial withdrawal from the festival, the film received critical acclaim and has a 100 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes from the critics who had the chance to see it before Drew had to battle the rights issues.

TIFFs Hottest Movie

the people's joker

The People’s Joker has been described as TIFF’s “hottest movie” by Slate and an “idiosyncratic funhouse mirror-esque saga about self-definition” by The Daily Beast.

IndieWire lauds Drew’s “bold debut,” calling it “fiercely original and deeply personal.” Variety commends the film’s ability to amuse, offend, and deliver a heartfelt emotional finale, featuring the magical trans fairy Mix Mxyzptlk.

Vera Drew used her own life experience as a trans woman and artist to write The People’s Joker and craft a unique blend of documentary, coming-of-age film, and parody.

The script, co-written by Bri LeRose, explores intimate lived experiences on an epic scale, using comic book characters as modern mythical archetypes.

Shot Entirely On Green Screen

the people's joker

Altered Innocence founder Frank Jaffe expressed excitement about championing this “bold, intelligent, and hilarious piece of queer cinema.”

The People’s Joker, shot entirely on green screen, involved over 200 independent, predominantly queer creators, including artists, musicians, and animators, elevating it beyond a genre pastiche to a visually rich experience across various forms of animation.

Coming To Theaters

the people's joker

Vera Drew expressed her enthusiasm about Altered Innocence helping bring The People’s Joker to theaters, stating, “What better home than among Altered Innocence’s catalog of gorgeously gay and deliciously edgy films.”

Produced by Joey Lyons and executive produced by Richie Doyle, Conor Hannon, and Riccardo Maddalosso, The People’s Joker is set to captivate audiences with its inventive storytelling, diverse aesthetics.

Plus, there’s a soundtrack composed by Elias and the Error, Danni Rowan, and electronic composer Elias. The film was partly financed through crowdfunding.

Source: Altered Innocence