The Todd Philips directed and Martin Scorsese produced Joker film has been discussed for close to a year now as I blogged about it when reports first surfaced last August. At that point in time, long time Scorsese collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio was in talks to star as the Clown Prince of Crime himself but as I said in my original blog, I take every news regarding DC with a grain of salt. Sure enough, DiCaprio’s name was no longer being thrown around and instead Joaquin Phoenix was rumoured to be playing the infamous character and as of yesterday, he officially is.
While I’m not 100% on board with the film (more on that later), I do love the pick of Phoenix to play the Joker. Phoenix is both one of the most talented actors in Hollywood (see: Walk The Line and Her) and no stranger to playing strange and dark characters (see: You Were Never Really Here, The Master & I’m Still Here) which is why I think he’d be a great Joker.
The Joker is becoming arguably one of the most difficult characters to portray after the fantastic portrayals by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger and because I think people are getting a little tired of the character and this isn’t the same situation as Spider-Man. Once Marvel got the rights back to Spider-Man they HAD to reboot that SOB, he’s arguably their biggest hero and at least one could argue that up until that point his portrayals were mixed at best. The Joker on the other-hand has been the main villain of two Batman films in the last 25 years, in which both actors who portrayed him entered the echelons of all-time movie villain. A long with that, we’ve seen him portrayed masterfully by Mark Hamill in the animated Batman series’ AND just had Jared Leto portray the Joker in Suicide Squad a film that was definitely not good but to no fault of Leto.
People talk about comic book movie “fatigue” but I think that’s horseshit, every year we get a hundred horror movies, rom-coms, crime movies and no one ever says were running into a fatigue of those films. People just want a good movie, plain and simple. That being said, it’s going to be hard for people to get overtly excited for a standalone Joker film in an already very confusing WB-DC world. While this movie is entering pre-production, DC still has Jared Leto tapped to play the Joker in other DCEU movies. It’s one thing to reboot the Joker 8 years after the Dark Knight but do we really need two different Jokers when there are so many other villains in Batman’s gallery that have yet to get their shine on the big screen.
As for the movie itself, as I said before, it will be a standalone film meaning it has no connection to any of the current DC Extended Universe films. This movie lives in it’s own world, similar to that of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. The fact that this movie takes place in a closed universe certainly helps. The DCEU has been a shit show pretty much from the start, they tried to make up for the 8 years that Marvel had on them by throwing characters everywhere and trying to make everything connect. Just look at all the little seeds that Batman V. Superman planted, only for none of them to come to fruition. By letting Todd Philips and Scorsese just focus on the city of Gotham, allows them to make a smaller, darker and grittier film then previously seen without having to worry about continuity.
The movie is suppose to be a story about the Joker’s origin story, most likely borrowing from The Killing Joke which introduced a background for the Joker as a failed comedian who falls in a vat of acid. It is to be set in the ’80s because god forbid Martin Scorsese get involved with a movie that takes place in the 21st century. My biggest concern for the movie is after he falls in the vat of acid, what’s next? I don’t believe the Cape Crusader is set to be in this film, robbing the Joker of his arch enemy. Is he going to get tangled up with other members of Batman’s rogue gallery like Riddler, Penguin or (fingers crossed) Man-Bat. They could borrow from Christopher Nolan and focus more on the Joker robbing other criminals like Carmine Falcone and other Gotham gangsters. Or… and this may be a stretch and they go the Gotham route and whilst focusing on the Joker also focus on a young or old Jim Gordon trying to apprehend the Clown Prince of Darkness. The point is, there are lots of directions this film could go. It’s difficult making a movie about a straight up bad guy and that’s what the Joker is. To quote Alfred “Some men just want to watch the world burn” you can toss in a failed comedic career all you want but that still isn’t enough to make an intriguing film.
Then again, this movie still might never see the light of the day. The Rock signed on to play Black Adam (problematic) for how long now? He’s not even suppose to show in next years Shazam! despite being his arch nemesis. In the last few months we’ve heard about an R-rated Harley Quinn movie, Suicide Squad 2, The Batman, The New Gods and so on. DC plans films the way I plan mixtapes…. by just throwing names and dates at a wall and hoping that nobody remembers in a years time.
P.S. Is Puerto Rico the most talented “state” per capita, that place has given us both Joaquin Pheonix and Benicio Del Toro. Talk about a gruesome twosome.