While details about the Joaquin Phoenix starring Joker origin film have been, up this point, quite scarce, Phoenix has revealed a number of new details regarding just how different his take on the Joker will be, including how he sees the film differing from other comic book movies.
Confirmed news about the Todd Phillips-directed, Martin Scorsese-produced film has been coming out slowly, with reports going back to earlier this year that Phoenix would be headlining the standalone film, which he has been interested in doing for a while now. That news was confirmed only recently by Warner Bros., as the company noted the film, co-written by Phillips and Scott Silver (The Fighter), could be released as early as 2019 and will be an “exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.” The relatively low-budgeted movie will exist outside of the DCEU universe, as Warner Bros. plans to launch a DC offshoot, DC Dark, that will focus on smaller, darker stories with the untitled Joker film being the first.
While speaking to Collider about his upcoming Gus Van Sant directed biopic Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, Phoenix revealed some key details about the Joker film’s tone, noting that that he “wouldn’t quite classify [the Joker film] as like any genre. I wouldn’t say it’s a superhero movie, or a studio movie.” Instead, Phoenix believes, “It feels unique, and I think more than anything, and probably the most important thing, is Todd seems very passionate about it and very giving, and so that’s exciting.”
Phoenix goes on to discuss superhero movies generally, noting, “I think, underneath the excitement of these films, and the size of them, there are these incredible characters that are dealing with real life struggles. And sometimes that is uncovered and exposed, and sometimes it isn’t, and so I always felt, like, there were characters in comics that were really interesting and deserve the opportunity to be kind of studies. And so I think that’s what Todd sees appealing about this idea.”
Stripping away all the big budget excess and honing in on a specific character may be exactly what DC needs to do to differentiate themselves from the Marvel style of episodic filmmaking. Based off of Phoenix’s comments, Phillips appears to be aiming for a movie that is a more grounded and realistic take on the Joker character, exploring not only his origins but how he exists outside of his relationship with Batman.
This is exciting news as Phoenix is notoriously picky about his projects, often choosing based off the filmmaker at the helm, so he must have seen something in Phillips take on the character to jump in. Additionally, the one-off nature of the film indicates that Phoenix will not be signing on to a multi-film deal, so Phillips and Phoenix can take the story wherever they want without having the burden of connecting their story to the broader DCEU universe. Stay tuned for more details about the film.