Gotham gets a new Joker

By Josh Simpkins
Special to the Sun

Currently, one of the oddest and most interesting projects I have heard of is in development in Holly-weird—and we all know that which does not kill you only makes you stranger. The project of which I speak is the Martin Scorsese produced, Todd Phillips directed standalone Joker movie. First announced in 2016, this film is now one giant step closer to becoming an actual reality. There have been rumors floating around for weeks suggesting that Academy Award-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice) might sign on to make his first comic book adaptation. Great news, friends and neighbors, new reports are saying that the actor has finalized his deal and will become the fifth actor to portray the Clown Prince of Crime in live action on the silver screen.

First confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter, production on the untitled Joker movie is scheduled to start up in the fall of 2018. Todd Phillips (The Hangover trilogy) is writing the script based on a script that he co-wrote along with Scott Silver (8 Mile; The Fighter). We currently don’t know exactly what the film will be about, or what to expect from its narrative. However, the film has been described by Warner Bros. as a gritty character study concerning the exploration of a man disregarded by society that serves as a cautionary tale. Though this sounds amazing, I have one question: How do they plan on having this non-DC Extended Universe feature work when the same studio is also planning a DC Extended Universe Joker title starring Jared Leto?

While Joaquin Phoenix is best known for his dramatic work, collecting Oscar nominations for movies like Gladiator, Walk the Line and The Master—and I’m sure he feels ready to team up alongside Todd Phillips for the Joker movie—he must understand the immense pressure tied to his eventual performance. Fans have a lot of expectations for the character, especially as compared to Heather Ledger’s Oscar winning performance in The Dark Knight. The pressure surrounding Todd Phillips’ Joker movie also lies in the concept itself: an origin story.

Part of what makes The Joker so terrifying is that he usually doesn’t have a long backstory that audiences are privy to. He’s just one guy who snapped and is intent on bringing anarchy down on Gotham City. While Joaquin Phoenix certainly has the acting chops to pull off Mr. J, delving into the psyche of the white-faced monster might make him far less terrifying. With an origin story, he’s just like any other tragic protagonist. Yet, the possibilities are numerous with talent like Phillips, Phoenix, and Scorsese, not to mention gloriously ghastly, I mean, this is The Joker we are talking about here.