Fans shouldn't expect Joaquin Phoenix's clown prince of crime to cross paths with The Batman anytime soon, according to Joker director Todd Phillips. After making his name helming such popular comedies as Old School and The Hangover trilogy, the New York-born director has shifted into much more dramatic fare in recent years. After directing the 2016 crime film, War Dogs, it was confirmed that he would bring to life a new incarnation of the iconic villain. With shades of Martin Scorsese's earlier work and standing distinctly apart from the established DCEU, Joker tells the story of Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) - a struggling stand-up comedian who, after a lifetime of being abused and downtrodden, finds himself developing a new persona and spiraling into madness.
The DCEU is set to continue in the coming years, however, with such sequels as Wonder Woman 1984 and such soft-reboots as James Gunn's The Suicide Squad. Alongside them, fans will get to see Robert Pattinson don the famous cape and cowl. The character was most recently played on the big screen by Ben Affleck. Following the underwhelming reception of Justice League, and despite talks of him directing and starring in a solo outing, Affleck stepped away from the role. Opting to return to a younger iteration of the character, Warner Bros. screen-tested multiple actors before ultimately settling on Pattinson earlier this year.
While speaking with Variety, Phillips was asked outright whether Pattinson's Batman and Phoenix's Joker would ultimately clash. His answer was decidedly brief yet firmly shot down the potential development. "No," he said. "Definitely not!" The statement comes in the wake of a mysteriously redacted comment from Pattinson during a separate interview. One that reportedly included a spoiler and was tied directly to Phoenix's version of The Joker. The comment, as well as a suspected connection to Batman v Superman, fuelled much speculation on social media over the last week.
Phillips went on to address the future of the character and comic book adaptations in general. "Oddly, in the states, comic books are our Shakespeare it seems, and you can do many many versions of 'Hamlet'," he said. "There will be many more jokers, I’m sure, in the future." The film is already poised for box office success, with early projections having it set to break Venom's October record. It is also already enjoying critical success, even winning the coveted Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Film Festival.
Phoenix prepared extensively for the role - to the point he believed he was genuinely going mad. The efforts seemingly paid off, though, with many already predicting that his stellar turn could ultimately lead to an Oscar. As such, fans will be disappointed that they won't get to see Phoenix's Joker clash directly with Batman. Though there are some who remain skeptical of Pattinson's casting, he, too, has proven himself a worthy and interesting actor since his Twilight days. Given that, the opportunity to see him share the screen with Phoenix would no doubt have been electric to watch. Alas, barring the notion that Phillips was merely maintaining secrecy, it appears as though it is not to be. Depending on if (or where) The Batman occurs within the DCEU timeline, the best fans would be able to hope for is Jared Leto's return - or, as per Phillips' own comments, a new Joker altogether. In terms of the latter and seeing Phoenix continue beyond Joker, there is always the potential for a sequel down the line.