For those who haven’t heard, the Clown Prince of Crime is going to get his own standalone origin movie next year, with Joaquin Phoenix set to play the lead role and Todd Phillips set to direct.
The movie isn’t scheduled to be released until October 2019, but we were already treated to a few interesting set photos this past weekend (h/t Just Jared) as well as a close-up of what a pre-Joker Joaquin Phoenix will look like:
(His name will also apparently be “Arthur.”)
Let me just start off by saying that I am totally on board with Phoenix as the Joker. Not only is he a brilliant and extremely talented actor – seriously, he’s probably one of the very best alive at the moment – but he’s also just batshit crazy enough to pull off a performance that could actually rival Heath Ledger’s iteration of the legendary villain from The Dark Knight.
(Side note: Jared Leto has failed MISERABLY so far in the DCEU, like embarrassingly so. If you even try to defend his portrayal of the Joker in any way, you are plain wrong and we’re not going to be friends.)
However, I’m not as sold on the director.
Todd Phillips, a guy known for making cheeky, frat-boy-humor comedies like Road Trip, Old School, and the Hangover trilogy, is going to be in charge of building the backstory for one of the most compelling, sinister, and vicious villains in entertainment history. Though many may not like to admit it, a large part of the Joker’s ubiquitous appeal is his truly perverse, malicious, and downright sociopathic nature, and any story focused on what made him that way is going to have to be quite dark. Is Phillips up to the task?
Fortunately, Scott Silver, who wrote 8 Mile and helped write The Fighter, is helping Phillips co-write the Joker movie. Not only were both of those films pretty excellent, but they also both feature main characters who are dealing with some pretty serious personal demons and unfortunate life circumstances which ultimately end up molding them into the person they eventually become.
OK. Fine. I’ll keep the faith that the two of them together can get the job done.
It was also reported back in March (h/t Screen Rant) that the movie would indeed be an origin story, showing the Joker’s – aka Arthur Fleck’s – demise as a failed comedian and the path he ultimately took toward a life of crime. This is derived from Alan Moore’s and Brian Bolland’s 1988 classic Joker tale The Killing Joke, easily one of the most dark and macabre (and best!) Batman graphic novels of all time. The alleged theme of the film is making me hopeful that the movie will be as “super dark and real” as Brendan Schaub (h/t Batman-News) said it was going to be during an interview last summer.
What makes this movie even more interesting and appealing is the fact that it is truly a “standalone.” It will not be a part of the current DCEU, which is in a state of flux at the moment, and it will instead fall under a new banner at Warner Brothers which will focus more on origin stories and other spinoffs from the universe’s main entities going forward.
Back in December 2016 (h/t Hollywood Reporter), a future Gotham City Sirens movie focusing on Harley Quinn, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy was announced. The studio has also already confirmed a Harley-Quinn-centric Birds of Prey movie, and there’s potentially even another Harley solo movie being discussed as well. Each of those films will star Margot Robbie, who was excellent as the Joker’s main gal in Suicide Squad.
They will also be making a Batgirl movie, too, which makes a lot of sense considering Barbara Gordon’s pivotal role in The Killing Joke storyline. Hopefully, we could even start to see other awesome and super underappreciated characters like Nightwing and Red Hood – and, eventually, Oracle – finally make their way onto the big screen as well.
So wait…what about Leto, though?
As much as I would love for his character to fade completely into obscurity, it seems as though Warner Brothers is still going to give him plenty more screen time. As first mentioned by The Hollywood Reporter, Leto is getting another chance to be the Joker in what looks like a weird, edgy (and probably entirely unnecessary) romantic comedy with Harley Quinn, which is set to come out after the Suicide Squad sequel. (So, wait, we now have to see him at least TWO more times??!!) Fortunately, this was reported last summer with virtual radio silence on the topic since, so here’s to hoping DC scraps the idea entirely and sticks with the other much better projects in process. For now, though, it seems like Leto’s sticking around, at least in the main DCEU.
Regardless, at least it seems as though the first Joker movie set to come out has some pretty solid potential, and I’m now actually pretty excited to see the finished product. And as confusing as all the DC movie “announcements” have been over the past year or so, at least the gears are turning over at Warner Bros. and things no longer seem quite so dire for DC.
The untitled Joker movie is officially set to hit theaters on October 4, 2019.