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That Potential Joaquin Phoenix Joker Film Is Going to Be a “Gritty Crime Drama”

Image of Joaquin Phoenix from "The Master"

Joaquin Phoenix is reportedly in talks to play the Joker in a standalone Joker origin film. According to Variety, studio negotiations are still ongoing, but director Todd 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.”

The film, which was scripted by both Phillips and Scott Silver (The Fighter), is going to “delve into what it took for the Joker to become a mastermind criminal.” It’s reportedly a period piece set in the ’80s, and it will feel more like “a gritty crime drama” than a traditional superhero film.

That tone seems to explain, at least in part, why Phoenix might have signed on to the project. As IndieWire observes, he’s traditionally shied away from big superhero fare. He was reportedly offered the role of Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and he also reportedly entered talks for Doctor Strange, but he turned both roles down. The fact that this film won’t feel very comic-book-y, and will instead aim for “gritty crime drama,” might be the reason he’s attracted to it. Then again, negotiations are still ongoing, so who knows how this will turn out?

This standalone film will take place outside of DC Extended Universe (DCEU) continuity. Jared Leto, who played the Joker in Suicide Squad, will continue to be the Joker in main DCEU continuity, including most likely in Suicide Squad 2, and the plots of the two movies will not have any effect on each other.

Personally, my biggest question here is why we need a gritty Joker origin movie. This project just has zero appeal for me, and the potential casting of Phoenix doesn’t really change that feeling. But maybe there’s a demand in the market that I just don’t see?

What do you all think?

(Via IndieWire; image: The Weinstein Company)

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