Although news about a new Joker movie starring Joaquin Phoenix seems like it came out of right field, the actor recently admitted that he has wanted to make a low-budget, character-focused comic book movie for some time. Not only that, but Phoenix always had the Joker - or another villain - in mind for such a film.
Rumors began to surface about a separate Joker movie in early 2018. Although many DC fans dismissed the rumors, the rumblings never really went away. Eventually, DC confirmed that a standalone Joker film would start filming soon, with Phoenix in the iconic role of the Clown Prince of Crime. DC went on to placate fans with news that this movie would not affect Jared Leto's portrayal of the character in the DC Extended Universe. The new movie is its own entity.
In an interview with Collider, Phoenix recently admitted that he had the idea of doing a lower budget superhero movie several years ago.
"Three or four years ago, I called my agent and said ‘Why don’t they want to take one of these characters and just make a lower budget film about it, a movie but a character study, and why not take one of the villains?’ And I thought, ‘You can’t do the Joker, because, you know, it’s just you can’t do that character, it’s just been done.’ So I was trying to think of other characters, and he said ‘I’ll set up a general meeting with Warner Bros.’ And I said ‘I’m not gonna go, I can’t go to a general meeting.’ So I completely forgot about it, and so then I heard about this idea, I was like, ‘Oh that’s so exciting, that’s the kind of experience I wanted to have, with a movie based on a comic character.’ I felt like you could get something on screen.”
It seems that Phoenix always had interest in the character of the Joker, but that he seemed to think the idea wouldn't work. DC went on to cast Leto in the role in Suicide Squad, a move that outraged a lot of DC fans. Leto's behind-the-scenes antics and his performance did little to please DC fans, so it seems that Warner Bros. believes a different take on the character is now something DC fans are open to.
Phoenix is just another actor in a long line who have taken on the role. Cesar Romero made the live-action character famous with his campy take on it in the 1960s Batman television series. Jack Nicholson followed suit in the Tim Burton films. Heath Ledger wowed audiences with his darker take on the Clown Prince in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. To many fans, Leto seemed like a step backward with the character in Suicide Squad. However, DC fans seem more positive about Phoenix being cast in the role of Batman's archnemesis, in spite of the film having no ties to the DCEU.
Fans are already speculating about what Phoenix might look like as the Joker, hoping for a more traditional look that stays true to the comic books and animated series. The movie will uncover more of the Joker's origin story, although it's likely that it will be more of a darker look into the psyche of a man who embraces chaos for a living.
A few questions remain, though: Do DC fans really need another Joker? And if they are more accepting of Phoenix as the character, will they demand that he replace Leto in the DCEU? It remains to be seen as the new Joker project moves forward.
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