Anytime anyone is in line to play the Joker it’s a big deal. It’s an especially big deal when the film is an upcoming standalone film produced by Martin Scorsese. And it’s an even bigger deal when the actor in line for the role is an A-list, Oscar-nominated star, so the fact that Joaquin Phoenix is in talks to play the clown prince of crime certainly classifies as a big deal.
Phoenix is in talks to star in the untitled Joker movie to be helmed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover), and the actor has reportedly agreed to the role, but now studio negotiations must begin. That might not sound like a huge hurdle but it’s worth noting that Phoenix was all but set to star in Marvel’s Doctor Strange before backing out over concerns regarding the huge press commitments he’d have to make.
That would likely be less of an issue this time around as Warner Bros. and DC are desperate for a shot in the arm and would likely agree on a less hazardous press tour for Phoenix if it meant getting the actor to sign on the dotted line.
Because this movie is deemed a one-off film, unconnected to the rest of DCEU, it would also mean that Phoenix probably wouldn’t have to sign a long-term, Marvel-esque contract either. This is the idea DC had when pitching the idea of unrelated, standalone superhero films; they would be able to reel in huge stars who wouldn’t be able to commit to multi-picture deals.
The film is reportedly set to be a gritty, 1980s-set origin story, more in the vein of Taxi Driver than a traditional superhero movie. Scott Silver will be working with Phillips on the script for a film that has now become one of the most exciting projects on the Warner Bros. slate.
Leonardo DiCaprio was first approached about the role, but Phoenix was reportedly the director’s top choice to star, so now many fingers are crossed that they can hash out the details and confirm this casting, one which would certainly push excitement levels for this Joker origin story into hyperdrive.