The last time we heard about who might play the Joker in DC’s pending standalone film, word was Leonardo DiCaprio was being eyed for the role. The Oscar-winning actor (with another five nominations) loves to disappear into roles (J. Edgar Hoover, anyone?), so the thought of him becoming the Joker was delicious. Now, Variety reports that Joaquin Phoenix, another excellent, fearless actor, is being eyed to play the Clown Prince of Chaos for Warner Bros. in Todd Phillips still untitled Joker origin film.
With the script done and pre-production likely not too far out, Variety reports that Phillips has said Phoenix is his top choice, and Phoenix has also agreed to the role. The two met at the end of last year, and are now waiting to get the go ahead from Warner Bros.
This doesn’t mean that Jared Leto’s Joker, who appeared in Suicide Squad, is no longer in the DC universe. Yeah, it’s a little confusing to have two Jokers, but Phoenix’s Joker would fall under a different DC banner. Under the new banner, DC can plunge into their deep reservoir of comic-book characters to create origin stories, spinoffs, and more, giving themselves the wiggle room to expand their cinematic universe into darker, weirder realms. A Joker origin story, with Phoenix in the title role, is such an interesting idea that it could even tempt non comic-book fans to see the gifted actor tackle one of the most iconic villains of all time.
This isn’t the first time Phoenix has been close to a superhero project. He was not too far away from nabbing the titular role in Doctor Strange, but ultimately backed away over concerns about the intense press requirements for Marvel films.
For The Joker film, Phoenix would be taking on the title role in a film very different from any film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and more akin to Christopher Nolan’s take on The Dark Knight. Phillips Joker film will be a gritty 1980s-set crime drama, closer to Taxi Driver than Suicide Squad.
Phoenix certainly has the chops to play the Joker, especially in a film focused more on what created the craziest villain of them all.
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)