Some recent teases of footage for the upcoming standalone Joker movie revealed star Joaquin Phoenix in traditional clown makeup. But is this really the character's finished look, or will audiences see another design later on in the movie that's more akin to the classic Joker face?
From director Todd Phillips (The Hangover series, War Dogs), Joker is an origin story based around the titular DC villain, highlighting the character's twisted history that ultimately led him to become Batman's most notable archenemy. The first upcoming DC movie that won't exist within the current DC Extended Universe, Joaquin Phoenix will play a failed comedian in the 1980s named Arthur Fleck who delves deeper and deeper into insanity before finally donning a new identity as the mass-murdering Joker. In anticipation of the movie's October 2019 release, Phillips and Warner Bros. surprised fans by releasing camera test footage that not only showcased Phoenix as Fleck, but also in full clown makeup. Whether it's his final Joker look, though, remains to be seen.
While this version of the Joker's look certainly seems to match the grounded and raw tone of the movie Phillips and Phoenix appear to be making, leaving so little to the imagination a whole year prior to the movie's release suggests that there is undoubtedly more to come. Though the footage is from a makeup test, we know from recent set photos and videos of Poenix's Joker in action that this same makeup will appear in the movie itself. However, it's possible that this Joker look is a kind of prototype (like Peter Parker's homemade costume in Spider-Man: Homecoming), and Arthur will refine his supervillain style. If that's the case, which versions of the Joker might this sort of movie - dark as it promises to be - take inspiration from?
Based on some earlier footage that has drawn similarities to Alan Moore's Batman: The Killing Joke (including the fact that both versions of the character start out as failed comedians), Phoenix may well don an appearance that draws even more similarities this version of the character - taking on the more classic Joker look, all the way down to his green hair. And, assuming there are any changes to the look featured in the test footage, it's likely to resemble something more along the lines of The Killing Joke and Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight, as opposed to Jared Leto's rebel thug look in Suicide Squad. If Joker ends up following similar beats to The Killing Joke, we could see Arthur Fleck falling into that fateful vat of chemicals and getting his white skin and red lips without the aid of makeup.
Given the roles that Phoenix has played in the past that showcase a dramatic loss of self (see: The Master, his year-long retirement hoax promoting Casey Affleck's mockumentary I'm Still Here), it's also likely that Joker will focus more on Fleck without the makeup than with. Phoenix's interest in the role from the beginning was the unique direction that Phillips plans on taking with the character, and relying more on the performance than the makeup may have been the appeal.
Perhaps an even bigger question is whether or not Joker is setting up Phoenix's version of the clown for recurring appearances. In theory this is a standalone story, but if it proves to be a success then it's hard to imagine Warner Bros. passing on the opportunity to bring Phoenix's Joker back - maybe even in Matt Reeves' The Batman.
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020