Still garnering acclaim for his performance in Lynne Ramsay’s festival hit, You Were Never Really Here, Joaquin Phoenix is reportedly in talks to play The Joker in director Todd Phillips’ upcoming standalone film. The currently untitled project, which is being produced by Phillips and Martin Scorsese, will explore the Joker’s origin story through a 1980s gangster story in the vein of Goodfellas. Although DiCaprio was expected to star in the film, the casting ended up falling through, and Phoenix has supposedly shown a lot of interest in taking his place.
The idea of a Joker origin story from Phillips and Scorsese was already unbelievable enough, but bringing Phoenix into the mix makes this movie seem like some sort of fever dream cooked up by Film Twitter. It’s even more surprising when you consider how resistant Phoenix has been to joining any franchises. Originally offered the roles of Lex Luthor in Batman v. Superman and as Dr. Stephen Strange in Doctor Strange, it’s unclear why Phoenix is suddenly open to boarding this film, and I think it has something to do with the fact that everything about this project screams standalone.
Jared Leto is already playing the Joker in every other DCEU project, and any chance to work with Scorsese – the two have never collaborated on anything – is one worth taking. At the very least, playing the Joker in a standalone DCEU movie will only do good things for Phoenix’s career. He’s a celebrated character actor who, given his performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, is clearly capable of tackling such a psychologically debilitating role. If done correctly, this is going to be one of those lightning-in-a-bottle ideas that makes its mark and doesn’t insist on overstaying its welcome with unnecessary sequels and forced continuations.
In addition to You Were Never Really Here, Phoenix also stars in Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, a dramedy biopic about John Callahan, who discovers a love for drawing hilarious (and often lewd) comics after an accident leaves him without the use of his legs. However, you can see Phoenix in You Were Never Really Here on April 6th!
Images: Amazon Studios, DC Comics, The Weinstein Company