“From Joker to Justice: Vera Drew’s Brave Stand Against Warner Bros. – The Untold Story!”

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It’s been an extended journey in the case of Vera Drew’s The People’s Joker, “a queer coming-of-age Joker origin story” which is finally having a theatrical release. Drew employs famous DC character to share her story of coming out as transgender and the journey to the film’s release made comic book and film enthusiasts curious. In 2022 the film only had one showing at TIFF before being removed due to “rights concerns. ” While some thought Drew received an order to cease and desist by Warner Bros., she has now clarified the situation about the process that took place between her and Warner Bros in explaining the reason The People’s Joker should be protected under the parody law. Naturally, we on ComicBook.com were interested in this unusual undertaking due to the film’s ties to DC However, my fascination is much more than just journalism-related curiosity…

I’ve had the privilege of calling Vera Drew my close friend over the past 15 years. I’ve been there throughout her first years as film student in Chicago. We both pursued stand-up and improv and encouraged each other in our first attempts to discover our unique voices. Then, I transitioned to the field of entertainment journalism, while she was an Emmy-nominated editor employed in Hollywood. With my current position with ComicBook.comand the upcoming release of The People’s Joker, speaking to Drew on the subject of her film seemed like a natural decision. I am extremely proud of what Drew has achieved, and I find it a privilege to share her story for our visitors. Watch our complete interview by clicking the link at the top of the page and also read a few of her words below…

 

Mixing Life and Art

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In an interview Drew discussed the process of creating something that was personal to her and how she used People’s Joker People’s Joker to “process my trauma not only with comedy, but with a relationship that I was in that was also very important to my trans identity, and my relationship to my mom, and also just my deep, genuine love of Batman.”

“I never considered when starting that process that it would take me four years, but even without that amount of time … editing the movie was hard,” she said. “I was editing scenes that were just conversations I had with my ex-fiance or my mom, but that’s why I did it. I mythologized my life. I made it this colorful, crazy way gayer-than-actual-reality [movie]. Even though the world the Joker/the Harlequin lives in is just as transphobic and horrible as ours, the world is oozing gayness that I think has softened it all, every step of the way.”

 

“I really do think filmmaking is kind of a mental illness on some level,” Drew said. “It’s something that you live with, and you learn to maintain, and be healthy within … And I don’t think I knew my limits when I started.”

Setting The Record Straight

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Drew also addressed Drew also discussed People’s Joker getting pulled from TIFF and, while the subject frequently comes up the actress is happy to be able to “clarify” the situation.

“We never got a cease and desist,” Drew explained. “We literally got an email from their legal department that just said, ‘We think this infringes on our brand, and we would like you to show this email to anybody that wants to buy the film or screen the film,’ which I did every step of the way.”

Drew was able to recall her time she was in Toronto along with co-writer Brie LeRose as well as The Penguin actor, Nate Faustyn as they received Warner Bros. email came through. “I don’t think any of us slept that 72-hour period. We were just chain smoking and going like, ‘What the f*ck is Discovery Channel going to do to us?'”

It was a blessing that Drew got a lot of reassuring texts from friends, such as actor and comedian Tim Heidecker. He said that she was receiving a lot of positive press because of TIFF. “It gave me a second just to go, ‘Okay, cool. It’s all going to be fine.’ This movie was never going to get this level of press if that thing didn’t happen,” Drew explained.

Another bright spot came from the film’s surprise TIFF drama. It caused Drew realize that the movie needed more work. “I needed a second to climb out of my Joker cave, and look around and see what was happening.” Drew removed the film out of other festivals and focused on hidden screenings before bringing it to other festivals next year. Drew admits that she was “intimidated by Warner Bros,” but she joked that she shouldn’t be saying the same thing today.

 

“I kind of always knew what I was doing had some risk involved with how it could be perceived, but I had gone a very long way to ensure that it was falling squarely under parody,” she explained.

“I really do think The People’s Joker is protected by fair use if only because it is a Joker movie that only I could make,” Drew said. “It’s my life. It is not a Batman movie.”

Batman Forever‘s Influence:

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Although The People’s Joker is a film only Drew could create however, she remains an avid fan of Batman. When asked about one of her favorite comic book movies, Drew recalled seeing Batman Forever on the big screen with her father when she was just six. It was not only her first movie rated PG-13 in the theater however, it was set in a period of “content was very gatekept” in her home. Watching the movie in a large screen was an educational experience. Joss Schumacher’s Batman films have provided inspiration to her.

 

“I love both of his Batman movies so much just because they’re big, expensive, gay art films,” she wrote.

But, Drew wasn’t always quick to confess her love of Batman Foreverand Batman & Robin. She admitted to spending a lot of her time in college trying to look “cool,” especially considering Christopher Nolan’s notoriously serious The Dark Knight trilogy was at its height. She credits her experience as trans to be a part of the reason why she was able to express her love for Schumacher.

“I think the second I started putting estrogen in my body, I became way more cringe,” she joked. “Not suggesting there’s a correlation. I think it’s just once you start actually leaning into authenticity … you kind of let go of these things.”

Drew was also reported to have been deeply inspired by Nicole Kidman’s character In Batman Forever. “I don’t know what happened, but I felt represented by her on screen in this way,” Drew stated. “I do think that was probably a sexual awakening for a lot of people, but for me, it was less that and more just a gender experience … ‘Why do I want to look like this woman? Why do I want Batman to look at me the way he’s looking at her? Why do I feel represented by Dr. Chase Meridian when I’m a 6-year-old boy?'”

What’s Next For Vera Drew?

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Since The People’s Joker has finally seen its long-awaited release Drew is contemplating her future projects. She does plan to “revisit” these characters one day, and tease the possibility of a ” People’s trilogy,” she also has other exciting projects in the pipeline. She has revealed that she’s working on a trans-body horror film that she claims it will turn out to be “pretty cool.” Alongside her original concepts, Drew would also be willing to be a part of other series.

“I do love IP, though. If there are any franchises out there that would like to bring me in, in an official capacity, I definitely would consider it. I was actually thinking the other day, nobody’s capitalized on the Valley of the Dollsuniverse yet … If you want help rebooting that, I am your girl, because that’s another one that runs pretty deep and personal.”

People’s Joker is heading to Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, Denver, Colorado, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, and Washington, D.C. beginning on April 5th. You will find show times and dates here.

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