In a DHTG article posted earlier this year, Joaquin Phoenix was dubbed to play the role of the Joker in a currently untitled origin movie produced by Martin Scorsese and co-written by Todd Phillips.
The actor himself, in an interview promoting his latest collaboration with director Gus Van Sant, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, claimed to have no idea of any Joker movie, much less his involvement in any such project. Nonetheless, rumors keep adding up, while even IMDb has him penned as being part of the film.
According to insider information given exclusively to The Wrap, the planned origin movie is to be based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel The Killing Joke written by the great Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta).
In this origin story, a man struggling to support his pregnant wife evolves into a super villain and Batman’s number 1 rival, the Joker, following a series of harrowing events. Convinced that he can make it big as a stand-up comedian, he quits his job in a local chemical plant only to fail miserably. In his desperation, he agrees to help two criminals navigate through the plant in order hold up a high-stakes poker game held in a company nearby. After learning that his wife and unborn child are killed in an accident, he tries to withdraw from the deal to no avail. The criminals strong-arm him into keeping his end of the bargain and even convince him to front the heist wearing the mask of the Red Hood, a device they often use to avert suspicion from themselves.
Following a shootout between security officers and the two criminals, which resulted in their demise, Batman arrives at the scene to investigate the disturbance. Unable to remove the mask of the Red Hood and see clearly, when confronted by the Batman, the unnamed man falls into a chemical pool in an attempt to escape the Dark Knight.
He is then swept out into a river with his skin bleached chalk-white, his lips ruby red, and his hair dyed bright green from the effects of the chemicals, resulting in the birth of the Joker.
The story, which takes place in the 1980’s, goes on to explain the rivalry between the caped crusader and his colorful archnemesis in gory detail.
Other than being very similar to the hit series Breaking Bad, in the sense that an average Joe could become a criminal mastermind under the right circumstances, the origin story also bears a resemblance to a 1982 Scorcese film. The King of Comedy, starring Robert De Niro, is about an aspiring comedian who is convinced that a chance encounter with his idol, a successful talk show, will lead to his “big break”. After a series of unsuccessful attempts to meet the TV host, he plans to abduct him with the aid of a fellow stalker in order to convince him that he merits a slot on the show.
Although not a direct connection, Scorcese’s involvement with this black comedy might explain his involvement with the Joker project. This has had many fans baffled, as the great director has often criticised modern cinema and its preference to big spectacle movies instead of great stories.
The film is currently labeled to be in pre-production, with production starting in late 2018. According to inside sources though, the film will definetely be delayed due to re-writes by Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver (The Fighter, 8 Mile).
The project is expected to be part of a yet-to-be-announced new banner under Warner Bros. that will have the sole purpose of producing one-off films outside the DCEU. DC Comics, in similar fashion, had a counterpart that published stories that existed outside the DC universe. The publication imprint, aptly named Elseworlds, published non-canon stories from 1989 to 2003.
Is this the big DCEU hit that WB is so longing for? Share your thoughts in the comments below!