Trans Joker film lands impressive Rotten Tomatoes score after near-universal critical acclaim

The People's Joker star Vera Drew on the red carpet wearing a joker costume.

The first reviews are in for queer parody movie The People’s Joker, and it’s landed an impressive Rotten Tomatoes Score after near-universal praise.

Written, directed, edited and starring comedian Vera Drew, the 92-minute indie film is an irreverent reimagining of The Joker’s origin story as a trans super-villain.

Set in a parody of the DC Comics universe, the film follows an aspiring comedian dealing with issues around her gender identity, who has spent years numbing herself with irony and fictional inhalant “smylex.”

It features a range of characters, settings and references to DC films, comics and games, as well as a cameo from Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk, and work from “200 independent artists on three separate continents.”

Some of those elements caused it to be pulled from the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022 because of “rights issues.”

Vera Drew as the protagonist of The People's Joker, which has landed an impressive Rotten Tomatoes score.
Vera Drew as the protagonist of The People’s Joker. (Vera Drew)

Drew, who has previously worked on shows such as Who is America? and Comedy Bang! Bang!, didn’t back down from showing the film, telling The Daily Beast at the time that she didn’t “respond well to bullying or pressure from faceless institutions” and that the attempt to silence the project “only emboldens me.”

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It finally received a showing in the US last July, as part of the Outfest film festival in Los Angeles – and received critical acclaim.

The People’s Joker is ‘refreshingly euphoric’, critics say

The release of The People’s Joker on 5 April was followed by a 96 per cent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Of the first 54 critic reviews available, only two were negative.

And a number of film critics were quick to agree.

The New Yorker’s Richard Brody called it “the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen” thanks to its “deep” and “personal” themes.

Sara Michelle Fetters, from MovieFreak, described the film’s protagonist as “refreshingly euphoric” and “allows the laughs her cartoonish antics generate to make a lasting impression that many [viewers] – gay, straight, lesbian, bi, trans, whatever – are going to treasure for ever.”

However, in a rare negative review, Edward Douglas, of The Weekend Warrior, called the film “gruelling, almost to the point of being unwatchable” and he was “glad once it was over”.