Ghost Rider actor Brett Cullen has been cast to play Bruce Wayne’s father Thomas Wayne in Warner Bros.' Joker after Alec Baldwin pulled out of the role. Baldwin was announced in the role back in August, but later withdrew due to scheduling conflicts. Joaquin Phoenix will play the Joker himself in what is expected to be a gritty and realistic take on the famous comic book villain.
Many were actually stunned when Phoenix was announced as the new Joker in Warner Bros.’ first attempt at building an entire movie around the character. Fans have now gotten their first look at a slimmed-down Phoenix in the role after set photos and video made their way to the internet. Fan artists have also begun visualizing what Phoenix might look like in full Joker makeup (though the set photos show him without any makeup at all).
ComicBook now reports that Brett Cullen will join Phoenix in Joker, in the key role of Thomas Wayne. Plot details are being kept under wraps, but Thomas Wayne of course is the father of Bruce Wayne, who would later go on to become Batman. In Batman lore, Thomas Wayne is murdered along with his wife Martha right in front of young Bruce, a formative moment that would help propel Bruce toward his later life as a crime fighter. The pivotal origin scene has been depicted on-screen in the 1989 Batman, 2005’s Batman Begins and 2016’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
A veteran of both the small and big screen, Cullen actually has prior experience in the Batman universe, having played a congressman in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. Comic book movie fans are more likely to recognize him though for his role as Barton Blaze in 2007’s Ghost Rider. Cullen is also a familiar face on television from roles on Lost, Under the Dome, Damages and Person of Interest. His biggest TV role came as Arthur Crosby on Netflix’s Narcos.
It is not yet known how big a role Thomas Wayne will play in Joker, but the fact that Baldwin was once considered for the part seems to indicate it may be a relatively large one. Of course, Joker himself was the one who pulled the trigger on Wayne in the Tim Burton Batman, a deviation from comic book lore that has not been repeated in subsequent live-action films. Fans can probably expect a lot of deviation from classic depictions of the Joker in Todd Phillips’ film. It seems the agenda for Warner Bros. is to create a more realistic take on the character, which would certainly steer it away from the cartoonish depictions offered up by Jack Nicholson and Jared Leto.
Joker will also star Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Marc Maron and Frances Conroy.