There’s no question that Joaquin Phoenix is one of the most talented actors in the world. But is he talented enough to carry a Joker origin film? Only time will tell.
And despite being one of the most gifted actors of his generation, even Phoenix himself has admitted that playing an iconic character like The Joker “scares” him.
According to early reports, the Todd Phillips-directed film 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.”
Phoenix spoke with Collider about the upcoming role, saying that it “scares the f*cking shit out of him”:
“It feels unique, it is its own world in some ways, and maybe, mostly, it scares the fucking shit out of me or something. It might as well be the thing that scares you the most.”
“Three or four years ago, I called my agent and said ‘Why don’t they want to take one of these characters and just make a lower budget film about it, a movie but a character study, and why not take one of the villains?’ And I thought, ‘You can’t do the Joker, because, you know, it’s just you can’t do that character, it’s just been done.’ So I was trying to think of other characters, and he said ‘I’ll set up a general meeting with Warner Bros.’ And I said ‘I’m not gonna go, I can’t go to a general meeting.’ So I completely forgot about it, and so then I heard about this idea, I was like, ‘Oh that’s so exciting, that’s the kind of experience I wanted to have, with a movie based on a comic character.’ I felt like you could get something on screen.”
While I’ve been on record as saying I think a Joker origin story is a TERRIBLE idea for about a dozen reasons, but we’ll just run through the main one: that the appeal of The Joker is that even BATMAN HIMSELF can’t figure out who the hell he is or where the hell he came from.
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.
While the prospect of Phoenix in this roll is a tantalizing one, I just don’t have the faith in Warner Bros. to pull it off. Hopefully, I’m wrong.