In any Batman or Joker movie, Gotham City is the heart and soul of the story. Infected with the crime, unemployment, and insensitivity, the city is a character in itself and has been the backbone of every Batman-adjacent plotline, including the latest DC film Joker. During a recent interview, director Todd Phillips revealed that his version of Gotham City in the film was inspired by New York City. The filmmaker has admitted that, while creating the city, his inspiration was from his own childhood in New York.
Phillips has said that even though the makers have not specified definitely when and where the movie takes place, according to him, Gotham City has always been an extension of his memory of New York City in 1981 when he was 11 or 12-years-old. “A very run down, broken down the city on every level,” he said. This is not the first time the director opened up about the idea behind his version of Gotham City. Last year, during Joker’s press conference at the Venice Film Festival, the director stated that while creating the city, he took inspiration for various characters and movies that came out in the 1970s, including the film Taxi Driver (1976).
Phillips clarified that even though according to him it was based on 1981 New York, it isn't necessarily set in that time and place. He revealed that the makers purposefully set the film in the past so that they could remove it from anything else the audience might know or connect it with. He even said that the film is actually set in an alternate universe.