For a franchise and a character that has been nothing but bad news for the last three or four years, things may finally be turning in the right direction for the Joker and DC Comic-based movies.
According to Variety, Academy Award-nominee Joaquin Phoenix is in talks to star as The Joker in Todd Phillips’ untitled, Martin Scorcese-producded Joker origin story.
However, unfortunately, insiders stressed that Jared Leto, who currently plays the Joker in the DCEU, is still portraying the character in that section of the cinematic universe. Simply put, Phoenix’s potential casting has absolutely no effect on Leto’s role. Yeah, it’s confusing.
While studio negotiations are not yet underway, Phillips has made it clear that Phoenix is the top choice to star and sources now tell Variety that, after thinking it over, Phoenix has agreed to the role. WB had no comment. Phillips is on board to co-write and direct the movie. Phillips had met with Phoenix before the new year and was just waiting for the studio’s go-ahead, sources say.
The movie would fall under a yet-to-be-announced new banner of DC Comics, which would give the studio the opportunity to expand the canon of the iconic comic-book characters with unique story angles that aren’t included in its current cinematic universe. Jared Leto most recently played the Joker in “Suicide Squad” and is likely to reprise that role in “Suicide Squad 2,” but will not be featured in this film. Rumors circulated that Leonardo DiCaprio was the first person approached to star in Phillips’ standalone film, though that didn’t pan out.
According to the reports, the film will delve into what it took for the Joker to become the clown prince of crime we all know and love today, with sources saying the story will take place in the ’80s and have “more of the look of a gritty crime drama than a comic-book movie.”
Let me just say, as a massive Batman fan … all of this is a horrible idea. What makes the character of the Joker so enthralling is his ambiguity — in fact, some Batman stories have wondered if the Joker is a manifestation of eternal evil — so putting a real name to the Joker’s iconic white face only undermines everything the character is actually about.
So, while I have absolutely no confidence in Warner Bros. competently pulling this movie off, Phoenix in the title role is certainly a step in the right direction.