Movies & TV / Columns

Thoughts on Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker Origin Movie

July 14, 2018 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Joaquin Phoenix Joker

Joaquin Phoenix is signed up and ready to bring his version of DC’s infamous villain to the big screen.

To be clear, this is the second announced Joker project in development as Jared Leto’s is still in play. And yes, Leto is playing Morbius the Living Vampire for Sony as well. On top of that, Leto is rumored to be returning in a potential sequel to Suicide Squad.

Phoenix’s Joker is a standalone movie that will explore a unique side of the Clown Prince of Crime.

Collider interviewed Phoenix about the project and working with director Todd Phillips:

“Three or four years ago, I called my agent and said ‘Why don’t they want to take one of these characters and just make a lower budget film about it, a movie but a character study, and why not take one of the villains?’ And I thought, ‘You can’t do the Joker, because, you know, it’s just you can’t do that character, it’s just been done.’ So I was trying to think of other characters, and he said ‘I’ll set up a general meeting with Warner Bros.’ And I said ‘I’m not gonna go, I can’t go to a general meeting.’ So I completely forgot about it, and so then I heard about this idea, I was like, ‘Oh that’s so exciting, that’s the kind of experience I wanted to have, with a movie based on a comic character.’ I felt like you could get something on screen.”

To learn that Phoenix had an idea for a comic book movie years ago is interesting. An actor of his caliber brings different tools to the project and can open up the film in various ways.

Phoenix went on to say:

“It’s a magnified version of what you deal with as an actor. So, when you get a script, obviously, the writer— usually for me, it’s the writer/director, last several years I’ve worked with a filmmaker that was the writer and director— and they have their expectation, and they’ve imagined things in their head, and they’ve imagined different actors, and suddenly you take it on and so there’s this moment of anxiety of ‘Did I live up to their expectations?’

And at some point you have to just own it and say like, ‘I can’t consider who they might have thought up before or what the movie was for the 6 months ago, this is what it is now and I have to find my way into it.’ And so in some ways it’s a very similar experience, right? But it feels magnified because it’s not just one person’s expectations, but what you’re telling me is that there’s at least a dozen.

I wouldn’t quite classify this as like any genre. I wouldn’t say it’s a superhero movie, or a studio movie or a … It feels unique, and I think more then anything, and probably the most important thing, is Todd seems very passionate about it and very giving, and so that’s exciting. I think, underneath the excitement of these films, and the size of them, there are these incredible characters that are dealing with real life struggles.

And sometimes that is uncovered and exposed, and sometimes it isn’t, and so I always felt, like, there were characters in comics that were really interesting and deserve the opportunity to be kind of studied. And so I think that’s what Todd sees appealing about this idea.”

With Heath Ledger delivering one of the most popular renditions of the Joker, one has to wonder if Phoenix will continue down that road or put his own twist on things. It’s a safe bet that we’ll be getting a darker more psychological look at the Joker that will reflect the more recent version we’ve been seeing in the comic books.

What are your thoughts on Phoenix’s Joker?