The Joke’s On You

joaquin-phoenix-joker-origin-movie-1081213-1280x0So that Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie is officially happening. Yup, the one that has The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips directing. And HAD Martin Scorsese (yes, THAT Martin Scorsese) producing, but now will just be produced by his production company. It’s Warner Bros’ big attempt to not only differentiate themselves from the superhero movie market, but also try and salvage whatever goodwill they have left after the disappointing critical (and some commercial) performances of Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad, and especially Justice League, as well as maybe get some Oscar play for their studio. While I’ve already made my feelings widely known in regards to the idea of giving the Joker an origin movie, there is a part of me that can’t deny the curiosity I feel regarding this. It’s either going to be brilliant or a colossal mistake, but it could be the thing to save WB’s DC films.

I know, I know, WB has Aquaman, Shazam, and Wonder Woman 1984 in production right now. But aside from those three (two of which are done filming and one is currently filming), this Joker movie is the only film they have that is actually going in front of the cameras in a short amount of time. Matthew Reeves’ Batman movie certainly isn’t, Flashpoint still hasn’t locked down any directors yet, and there’s so many Harley Quinn movies in development, including Suicide Squad 2, that I’ve honestly lost count. Oh, there’s also a solo Jared Leto Joker film in development too. But at the end of the day, none of those movies are actually being filmed at the moment, and Phillips’ origin movie, as weird of a choice as it may be, is the only one that has a start date for filming, and depending on how the end product turns out, it may change the course of the DCEU forever.

Let’s say this Joker movie comes out, and Joaquin Phoenix is phenomenal in the part. I’m talking Heath Ledger or Mark Hamill level brilliant (which in all honesty, is a possibility). Is WB really going to then tell general audiences that Phoenix’s Joker is a one and done, and that they have to accept Jared Leto’s Joker as “their Joker”? There are fans of Leto’s take on the character out there, but his Joker is easily one of the most divisive aspects of the DCEU. Potentially putting his take on the character up against another in the same medium is ludicrous, and makes me wonder if this is secretly some exec at Warner Bros’ plan to get Leto away from the role. He’s already made it well known that he’s not a fan of this “other Joker” movie idea, and with him signing on to play Morbius in Sony’s Spider-Man-less spinoff, I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear that Leto has bailed on playing the character. But playing this kind of game in public doesn’t do the fans, Phoenix and Todd Phillips, or even Jared Leto any favors.

But, if Leto does walk, and they can get Phoenix to stick around for a few more movies (a highly unlikely scenario), then it could completely upend whatever “plan” the studio has for their shared universe. I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept the things that worked (Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman), did a “soft reboot”, and inserted those versions into this new Phoenix-Joker universe. Hell, it would even free up Matthew Reeves’ Batman movie, and then allow WB to work THAT Batman into this universe too, provided Reeves doesn’t use Affleck’s Bruce Wayne. In a weird way, this dumb Joker movie could help Warner Bros fix their entire cinematic universe.

Whether I think it’s a good idea or not, this Joker origin movie is happening. And while I’m extremely cautious about the end result, I’ll gladly eat crow if it ends up being great. But as it stands right now, it seems less like Warner Bros believes in the movie than them just throwing things at a wall and seeing if they’ll stick. I still can’t believe that they got Phoenix, who famously turned down the part of Doctor Strange because of the committment. So he’s said goodbye to Marvel, but suddenly wants to jump in with Warner Bros’ DC Films, just to work with Scorsese, who now has a “name only” part of this whole production? It doesn’t quite add up to me. Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker is something that, on paper, sounds too good to be true, and I’m hoping that it doesn’t end up being a waste of his, and our, time.

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Posted on July 16, 2018, in Comic Books, Movie and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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