Joaquin Phoenix has agreed to play the Joker

Writer-director Todd Phillips’ Martin Scorsese-produced Joker movie is apparently still happening, and now it nearly has its star. According to Variety, I’m Still Here star Joaquin Phoenix has agreed to reprise his acting crazy routine to play the Batman villain in the film.

The project has been set up at Warner Bros. as a standalone effort completely separate from their relentlessly ongoing DC Extended Universe. (Jared Leto will continue his white body paint and temporary tattoo applications for that.) As described upon its reveal six months ago, the Phillips’ film is meant to show a seedy, ’80s Gotham City akin to the New York streets of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. It’s also been said that this will be an origin story for the character, so given that Phoenix is visibly in his forties, apparently Joker will now be starting his crime career late. You’re never too old to reinvent yourself as a sociopathic clown, everyone!

  • Jeremy Tilton

    Great, even more reason for me to inexplicably confuse Leto and Phoenix (don’t ask me why).

    • HalSolo

      One’s slender and bearded the other SHOULD be playing a MIB alien villain in human skin…

      • adam3w

        Elle : Hey, Jay! Zed called. The high consulate from Solaxiant 9 wants [tickets] for the [Joker & Harley premiere].
        Jay : All right, let’s put in a call to [Jared Leto]. He’s from that planet.
        Elle : [Leto]? You’re kidding.
        Jay : Nope.
        Elle : Not much of a disguise.

  • jaime_arg

    Why would they voluntarily have competing Joker actors and films?!

    Studios couldn’t be any stupider if they tried.

    • P.T. Internet

      I actually think there is a lot of potential in a studio being willing to try to to make something interesting and risky with their properties, without being beholden to their larger “Universe.” Give me a Star Wars that is a gritty neo-noir on Coruscant, or spy thriller, or whatever, that has nothing to do with Jedi, Skywalkers, or Solos. Give me a weird Joker psycho-sexual thriller. Give me a Squirrel-Girl Bridesmaids-style comedy. Exploring familiar characters or universes in new and strange ways is much more interesting to me than just rebooting Spider-Man again but this time he fights Mysterio.

      Of course risk is anathema to a studio, so this film will probably be homogenized into a perfectly acceptable mediocre slurry of the familiar.

      • jaime_arg

        I definitely understand the sentiment but in that case I would favor an entirely original movie.
        Making a non-Star Wars Star Wars film seems both pointless and cash-grabby.

        I don’t have a problem with the independent Joker film but I think it’s dumb to make it within a year or two of an existing Joker film.

        • I think, if Warner Bros. actually committed to doing Elseworlds stuff as a model, it would really set them apart from Marvel’s samey stories–and their heroes are iconic enough that they could do it. A Gotham by Gaslight, say, would play because everyone already knows Batman enough. Or let Aronofsky make that ’70s Batman he once was attached to, but as a one-off experiment.

          That said, I don’t think the studio actually has that kind of vision or daring, and this will be as confusing an outlier as the disconnected Venom.

          • jaime_arg

            That would definitely be interesting. A bunch of independent superhero movies. Problem is you can’t then mix the characters for an avenger-type blockbuster…

          • adam3w

            Man, when I first heard about that Aronofsky + Frank Miller Batman project, I was intensely interested. Cut to several years later, I read up on some of the ideas they’d been kicking around, and it just sounded ridiculous.

            (The two of them had also tried to adapt Ronin, which I think would be a better project for them to collaborate on. But it never came together.)

          • Though it was my own example, I’m actually not that into it anymore either. Mostly because of sort of hating mother!.

          • P.T. Internet

            Right! The familiar made unfamiliar, using properties we all know to say something new is cool. But WB and DC definitely do not have such a vision!

          • HalSolo

            The bigger issue is WB’s tapping into that well for all their mid-level DTV animated features (Killing Joke, All Star Superman, Dark Knight Returns, etc.). Had they backed the eff off on that, there’d be a lot more novelty and less inevitable confusion on streaming services…

    • HalSolo

      Cuz SKWAD was critically lambasted and even Leto seems disinterested in donning the white grease paint and green hair dye further?

      • jaime_arg

        Leto will allegedly continue to don the bukake:
        “Jared Leto will continue his white body paint and temporary tattoo applications for that.”

        • HalSolo

          I’ll believe it when I see his white “Damaged” face on screen again…

          • He already said they shot enough with him and harley to make an entire separate joker movie. He’s signed on for several more, but I agree I think he’s starting to realize the joke is on him…

  • HalSolo

    If they’re basically doing the Brian Azzarello THE JOKER comic then fuck it, fair enough. But that better be the MEAN STREETS, cuz I’m not down unless Mr. Goodfellas hisself is adapting the Red Hood origin story…

    • Man, now thinking of other Scorsese old New Yorks, I go to After Hours, then Good Time, and I’m thinking how the Safdies directing Robert Pattinson in a Joker movie would be pretty fucking cool.

      • HalSolo

        Chalk that awesome dream up there with a stand-alone BATMAN written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier in the “DC movies that would make a lot of sense artistically and financially.”

    • adam3w

      I was actually wondering if they’ll be adapting the backstory from The Killing Joke. I haven’t read the Azzarello stuff (although I know he did the screenplay for the animated The Killing Joke, which I started but never finished).

      • HalSolo

        Oh god he wrote that adaptation which missed the forest for the trees for the sewage dump? I take back what I suggested… even if his JOKER stand-alone is probably the best Heath ledger JOKER sequel we’ll get…