July 11th update: The currently untiled Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie has officially been greenlit, according to Variety. Filming is set to begin in fall of 2018.
Joaquin Phoenix might finally be in a comic book movie after years of negotiations and attempts. And it’s a good thing he held out for this long too, because he is now in talks to play the Joker in a standalone film.
From The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips, DC Films is currently casting the untitled Joker movie about one of the most iconic comic book villains of all time. While official studio negotiations haven’t started, Variety reports that Phoenix is in talks and is Phillips’ frontrunner for the starring role of the Clown Prince of Crime. And, according to sources, “after thinking it over, Phoenix has agreed to the role.” Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker? What would that even look like?
This casting would be huge for a few reasons. First, this would be DC’s big launch of a new division in which the brand could expand the canon for characters not currently included in the big DC extended cinematic universe. That means more niche characters would get the spotlight and fans could see their never-before-seen comic book favorites in live-action.
Second, Phoenix could potentially be playing the Joker at the same time as Jared Leto if he ends up playing the Joker again in Suicide Squad 2 and in the Joker and Harley Quinn movie that’s also in the works. Could you imagine having two very different Jokers in big budget comic book films at the same time? That would be just insane. Almost as insane as the character, tbh. Honestly, how many Jokers does it take to keep a cinematic universe afloat?
And third, Phoenix has been circling comic book movies for some time now without ever getting attached to one. He actually passed on playing Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Jesse Eisenberg wound up in the role. He was also in talks for Doctor Strange for rival company Marvel but passed on that, too. Is the Joker the role he was waiting for? Hopefully he’s been practicing his maniacal laugh, because he’s had more than enough time to prepare.
It actually makes sense that Phoenix would be interested in this standalone movie (which Leonardo DiCaprio was initially in talks to star in but ultimately passed), since it’s reportedly less like a comic book film and more like a gritty crime drama set in the ’80s. The untitled Joker project is going to be an origin movie that will delve into what it took for the Joker to become a mastermind criminal. While the Joker famously does not have a confirmed origin story (or has had multiple different ones), it’s interesting that DC wants to finally explore that history in depth. And with Phoenix in the role, there’s no telling which direction the brand will take with the story. If there’s one thing you can predict about Phoenix, it’s that he’s completely unpredictable.