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Joaquin Phoenix Officially Signed On for JOKER Origin Movie

UPDATE: 07/10/2018
There’s been a lot of talk lately about which of the proposed 4,000 movies set in the Batman section of the DC Universe would actually get made. Two different movies starring different actors as the Joker have even been announced. Now, at least one of them has gone from “possible” to “probable.” THR is reporting Joaquin Phoenix has officially signed on to star in the Joker origin movie, to be directed by Todd Phillips.

The movie is said to be in the $55 million range, which is much lower than most tent pole superhero movies, but since this version of the Clown Prince of Crime is going to be an experimental crime drama-type movie, it probably doesn’t need the superhero theatrics quite as much. According to the official language, the movie will be an “exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.”

No word yet on a release date for the project, but it’s possible the Joker origin movie starring Joaquin Phoenix could be out as early as late 2019, according to THR. We’ll bring you more news as it develops. Ha Ha Ha.

Original Story
We were pretty baffled when it was announced last year that Martin Scorsese (you know, the guy who made gritty, realistic crime movies like GoodFellas, The Departed, and Mean Streets) was producing Warner Bros. and DC’s upcoming Joker standalone movie, to be directed by The Hangover franchise’s Todd Phillips. What a strange mixture of people. And with the current rumors being that Joaquin Phoenix would play the Clown Prince of Crime, we couldn’t possibly see how that would go. Now, however, a new report by The Wrap has shed some light on things, possibly tying the story to one of Scorsese’s best movies and a famous comic book arc.

Though a representative of Warner Bros. could not give any comment on the speculation, The Wrap says the movie will focus on the pre-criminal Joker as a failed comedian in the 1980s and that failure leading to his cackling murderer persona. This is obviously similar to the flashbacks seen in Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s 1988 one-shot Batman: The Killing Joke which posits that “one bad day” turned a normally good man and failed comic into a monster. That comic is an unavoidable touchstone in various media in the 30 years since its release. But it is also reminiscent of Scorsese’s 1983 movie The King of Comedy in which Robert DeNiro played a mentally disturbed wannabe stand-up comedian who kidnaps his idol played by Jerry Lewis to help launch his career. This might explain the Scorsese connection.

Now, obviously this is unsubstantiated by the studio, and Phoenix hasn’t even signed on yet, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Even though the only DCEU film to be both financially and critically successful was the hopeful Wonder Woman, the bulk of the films thus far have been full of ’80s-era comic dourness and a reverence to creators like Moore and Frank Miller. And if you’re going to have a Joker movie about his origins, I suppose there’s only so many ways to go. Just seems fairly pedestrian and typically grimdark to me. Let’s hope an interesting take on the subject can come from these creative heavyweights.

Images: DC Comics/Warner Bros

Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist and an avowed DC Comics fanboy. Follow him on Twitter!

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