Let's Talk About This Joaquin Phoenix JOKER Movie

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Whether we like it or not, we’re getting a JOKER movie next year.

It seems like movies these days are often shrouded in secrecy during their productions, so it’s sort of refreshing to see that director Todd Phillips and Warner Brothers are being very forthcoming with images from the film. Or maybe they just realize that they’re gonna have to work really hard to win back fans after the shitstorm that has been the majority of the DCEU so far.

A few days ago, Phillips revealed this short camera test on Instagram which featured our first look at Joaquin Phoenix in makeup.

A couple of days later, a short video showing Phoenix in motion as the Joker during the filming of a scene was released, with the Joker wearing a very familiar looking color scheme.

Then yesterday, Phillips was back at his shenanigans, teasing yet another look at the character in this set photo, showing the man who will become the Joker in some early form of a clown costume.

What does any of this mean? Nobody really knows. The original synopsis of the film that was reported described Phoenix’s character as a failed stand-up comic who turns to a life of crime, although this most recent image indicates that he might actually be working as a circus clown before becoming Gotham’s Crown Prince of Crime. An official synopsis hasn’t been given, so this is all guesswork right now.

But the real question is: are you excited about this?

I’m torn, personally. As for this movie in particular, I think the idea of a Joker origin story completely works against everything we know (or rather, don’t know) about the character. Part of The Joker’s mystique is that he’s a guy with no background, just a force of nature who appeared out of nowhere to wreak havoc. One of the things I love most about Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the character is that he gives multiple background stories to different people. Nobody knows if any of it is true.

And yet, something about this film has attracted the attention of Joaquin Phoenix, arguably the greatest actor working right now, and one who doesn’t choose his films lightly. If something about it appealed to him, then consider my curiosity piqued.

As for the idea of the film not being part of the DC Extended Universe proper?

On one hand, I think DC and Warner Brothers are making the right decision to distance this film from the established DCEU. I think that DC has been trying too hard to emulate Marvel’s release model and it’s blown up in their face (multiple times). I love the idea of doing these standalone films, unconnected to the established onscreen canon in any way.

But then, that’s going to be very confusing for general audiences isn’t it? I’ve already spoken to people in regards to Sony’s upcoming VENOM film that have no idea that it’s not part of the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unless they, like me and probably like you, follow film news regularly, they’ve got no real way of knowing the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that keeps the Venom character separate from the MCU.

I feel like this JOKER movie is going to suffer the same fate. Phoenix’s character is clearly a different person than the atrocity that Jared Leto played in SUICIDE SQUAD, but will they be able to separate the two?

(Please realize that I’m not questioning peoples’ intelligence. I just know that most people don’t care about the details on how this shit comes to be behind the scenes in the same way that I do, and so they remain uninformed.)

But imagine if this works! Imagine the freedom that Warner Brothers and DC will have if a standalone movie can be successful (both creatively and financially)! It opens up a world of possibilities for stories set in the DC universe. We could have Frank Miller’s Dark Knight books adapted, without the baggage of any other films. We could see any of the amazing Elseworlds titles adapted. We already know that Matt Reeves’ upcoming BATMAN film is going to be disconnected from the JUSTICE LEAGUE movie, so clearly this is something that’s on the minds of the powers that be at Warner Bros.

And yeah, I realize that what I’m describing is essentially what DC has been doing in their animated films for years, but this opens it up to a much, much wider audience.

Of course, that also brings us to the question that if this works, what is to become of the established DCEU? Is it abandoned? With the departure of Ben Affleck and — most recently — Henry Cavill, its future certainly seems up in the air. But then what about the incredibly successful WONDER WOMAN or the upcoming AQUAMAN (which, against all odds, looks pretty damn good). Do these franchises continue, and just pretend like Zach Snyder’s films were all a bad dream?

I guess time will tell. For now, I’m cautiously optimistic about this JOKER movie and the upcoming DC slate in general. I hope they’re truly making strides to give these characters the films that they deserve.