Joker is the nemesis of Batman, one can argue that he is the greatest DC villain not in terms of superpowers but the impact he has had on the comic book universe. Some of the best storylines and plots in Batman comics involves the Joker who brought in an element of unpredictability and insanity.
His psychotic behavior and a constant need to introduce chaos in Gotham City make him dangerous and menacing as hell, but what adds to this character is the mystery behind his identity. Though it is said that even the Joker doesn’t remember his origin, there have been several origin stories of Joker which gave birth to this amazingly evil character.
Some of the best origin stories are as follows:
In “The Killing Joke” version, Joker had no money in his pocket to meet the medical expenses of a pregnant wife or to pay off the house rent, as a result Joker decided to join a stand up comedy group going for a good old heist, his role was to put on the Red Hood’s mask, a criminal identity of a notorious gang leader, he dons the identity, but then something in the plan goes horribly wrong and the Batman shows up. The Joker while trying to escape falls into a dump of chemical waste and then he never was the same.
In Batman Gotham Knights plot, the heist in which the Joker participated as the Red Hood goes wrong and the rest of the group consider this as his fault and they light his house on fire, with his wife inside. This pushed him to his breaking point and drove him insane. And then he became the Joker.
In Batman Confidential storyline, the character of Joker was already a criminal, a master tactician and strategist, whose plans never failed, and because of this, he got ‘bored’. With no regard for human life, Joker even tried to commit suicide, but then came Batman restoring law & order in Gotham. The Joker found this entertaining and it has been since that he’s never stopped.
In Brave and the Bold, Atom had to enter the Joker’s brain to cure him of a disease, but when he enters his mind he sees that Joker had violent tendencies during his childhood, so much so that he trapped his parents in their own house and set it on fire. Recently, in New 52, Joker is raised by his abusive aunt and bullied by his classmates in school. When he grows up, he becomes the leader of the Red Hood gang, further it is also told that he got inspiration from Thomas and Martha Wayne’s murder.
In DCEU’s Suicide Squad, Jared Leto played the Joker and gave his best to recreate the magic of Heath Ledger’s performance in “The Dark Knight” but fell way short of the massive expectations, although it was a good, solid effort on his part given the time and material given to Joker. It was one of the most misleading campaigns of DC as the trailers of the movie showed Joker at the heart of the story while in reality he was just a sideshow. But Leto is expected to reprise his character in Suicide Squad 2.
Last year, a new development in the live action DC movies division was a solo Joker Origins movie. DC has several movies in development and WB is also planning for a Joker stand-alone movie which is going to be set up in the 1980s and will be separate from the DCEU. This pushed Leto’s Joker out of the picture as it will be set up in a different timeline altogether and it is also in a different Universe from the DCEU currently going on.
The DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson said that this Joker origins movie will be standalone and has no connection with existing DCEU. Here is what she said:
“Our intention, certainly, moving forward is using the continuity to help make sure nothing is diverging in a way that doesn’t make sense, but there’s no insistence upon an overall story line or inter-connectivity in that universe. Moving forward, you’ll see the DC movie universe being a universe, but one that comes from the heart of the filmmaker who’s creating them.”
Until now, we only knew that the Hangover trilogy director Todd Phillips will direct the movie and it will be produced by the legendary director Martin Scorsese. Since Martin Scorcese’s name was involved, many people thought and suggested that Leonardo DiCaprio might take on the role of the Crime Prince of Gotham as his name was in the running list for the title role.
Along with him, many actors were suggested to be in line for becoming the new Joker. Willem Dafoe, Bill Skarsgard, Cameron Monaghan, Iwan Rheon and even James Franco were the names that came up with the possibility of becoming the new Joker in DC’s spinoff.
No more updates were there to present on this movie until now, as the new reports suggest that Joaquin Phoenix is in talks to star in the Joker origin movie. Well, this is a pretty interesting choice. The actor himself has been in the run for comic book movie roles in the past, including that of Stephen Strange in Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange solo movie and he was even in line to play Lex Luthor in Zack Snyder’s DC film Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but ultimately the role went to Jesse Eisenberg.
The reports have suggested that Phoenix has not yet begun any negotiations with Warner Bros. Pictures and DC proper, but he has been discussing the Joker origin movie with Director Phillips and that the latter has made it clear that Phoenix is his top choice for the film. But this is in the contrary to what was suggested in the past, as WB was looking for a young actor to become the new Joker as it is a Joker Origins movie taking place in the 1980s timeline and adapting the look and feel of a gritty crime drama, as it explores how an ordinary man evolves into the maniacal Clown Prince of Crime.
But the problem of being younger can be solved through CGI these days and the same could happen with Joaquin Phoenix as many actors have been made to look younger in various movies in order to portray a scene set in the early days of the character. Getting an experienced actor with the caliber of Joaquin Phoenix might be in the best interest of everyone because a younger actor for the role may not be as good as people would want. Jared Leto’s joker has certainly divided the fan base as there are many fans who do not like the way Leto has portrayed the Joker.
The plan over here is that this movie will kick off a separate franchise from the DCU (continuously called the DC Extended Universe) which includes movies like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, and other movies. This would allow Jared Leto to continue being the Joker in the DCU and we would have Joaquin Phoenix simultaneously playing the Joker as well (possibly better than Leto). Here’s the concept art of Joaquin Phoenix as the Crime Prince of Gotham.
This could beneficial for the DC movies division as they have not yet been able to establish their niche with the shared Universe they have tried to put out for us. Having a separate Universe, and making it a success could turn into a reinvention for the DC movies and it could pull in many more people to actually watch the DC movies.
DC currently has these projects in production and development – Aquaman, Shazam, Wonder Woman 2, Suicide Squad, Flashpoint, The Batman, Man of Steel 2, Black Adam, Deathstroke, Joker and Harley Quinn, Batgirl, Nightwing, Justice League Dark, Gotham City Sirens, Green Lantern Corps, Cyborg and the Joker Origins Movie.
But some of these projects may not be part of the overall DCEU. In fact, Geoff Johns (writer cum DC executive) said this:
“The movie’s not about another movie. Some of the movies do connect the characters together, like Justice League. But, like with Aquaman, our goal is not to connect Aquaman to every movie.”
What do you think about Joaquin Phoenix playing the Joker in the Joker Origins movie? Comment below.