It’s Official—Joaquin Phoenix is Your new Joker

We’ve been writing about Joaquin Phoenix circling Todd Phillips Joker project for months. The talented actor doesn’t do many interviews, and when he has, he’s been careful with his words when talking about the potential film. He’s spoken about how for him, the interest is all about the character, not the superhero genre. We wrote way back in February about how the script was done and Phillips had already said Phoenix was his top choice. And now, finally, The Hollywood Reporter confirms that Phillips’ Joker movie with Phoenix in the lead is officially happening. Warner Bros. now has two Jokers on their roster (Suicide Squad introduced Jared Leto’s Joker back in 2016) in two different franchises. You can never have enough of one of the greatest comic book villains of all time, one imagines.

THR reports that Phillips’ standalone Joker film is due to start filming in September. This movie won’t be a part of the established DC Extended Universe, but would instead offer a gritty origin story, based on a script Phillips co-wrote with Scott Silver. The script must have something special in it for the notoriously picky Phoenix to jump on board. THR writes that the film’s being described as “an exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.”

Another intriguing aspect of the Phillips/Phoenix Joker project is that from the size of the budget, it really does sound like this will be more of a dark crime drama than a superhero film. It’s currently budgeted in the $55 million range, which is much lower than just about every superhero movie of the last ten years. It might mean this film will be more in the vein of James Mangold’s R-rated Logan, which gave Hugh Jackman’s titular superhero the grimiest, bloodiest, boldest sendoff in superhero film history. Whether or not Phillips’ film will be R-rated is less important than whether or not he’ll have the flexibility to dive as deep as Mangold did into the brutalized psyche of his undeniably intriguing central character.

Perhaps we’ll be hearing from Warner Bros. about the film at Comic-Con in a week and change, but there’s just as good a chance that the studio keeps this quiet while they dig into pre-production. They’re also developing a Joker standalone film with Jared Leto, but it sounds like the Phillips/Phoenix Joker movie will be going first. Leto remains busy, however—he’s just nabbed the lead in Sony’s Spider-Man spinoff Morbius.

Featured image: CANNES, FRANCE – MAY 28: Joaquin Phoenix attends the Closing Ceremony of the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 28, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)


Bryan Abrams

Bryan Abrams is the Editor-in-chief of The Credits. He's run the site since its launch in 2012. He lives in New York.