Is Joaquin Phoenix now in line to star in the solo Joker movie?

Whilst their films still make money at the box office, Warner Bros.’ DC Comics movie universe has a long way to go to get out from under the mammoth shadow cast by their rivals at Marvel Studios.

One of the main gripes against WB/DC’s offerings is that their films seem to lack the forward planning and meticulous continuity of Marvel Studios’ films and critics and fans alike have expressed their dismay over the constant changes in tone and feel within DC’s franchise.

Warner Bros. seemingly move from one film to the next, trying to right the wrongs of their last offering and the plans on their drawing board seem to vary from day to day with the direction they take experiencing numerous course corrections along the way.

A prime example of this was towards the end of 2017 when it was announced that Todd Phillips would be helming a solo outing for perhaps DC’s most iconic villain, The Joker. This film was said to focus on the younger version of the Clown Prince Of Crime and more alarmingly it was also reported that it would exist outside of the DC Extended Universe occupied by the likes of The Justice League and Suicide Squad, which of course featured Jared Leto as the Joker.

The movie is mooted to have Martin Scorsese in the producer’s chair and rumours were rife that this may even lead to his frequent collaborator and leading man Leonardo DiCaprio taking on the role in a story said to depict the rise of Batman’s nemesis from his early days as a common criminal.

This appears not to be the case however with Variety now reporting that Joaquin Phoenix is the director’s new choice for the role;

“While studio negotiations are not yet underway, Phillips has made it clear that Phoenix is the top choice to star and sources now tell Variety that, after thinking it over, Phoenix has agreed to the role. WB had no comment. Phillips is on board to co-write and direct the movie. Phillips had met with Phoenix before the new year and was just waiting for the studio’s go-ahead, sources say.”

The movie is set to be released under a yet-to-be-announced new banner of DC Comics, which would give the studio the opportunity to expand the canon of the iconic comic-book characters with unique story angles that aren’t included in its current cinematic universe.

This is move is thought to allow Leto to return to the role in the upcoming Suicide Squad 2.

Phoenix has been rumoured to be in consideration for other DC roles in the past and was reported to be in the running to play Lex Luthor in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but was said to have passed on that role, which ultimately went to Jesse Eisenberg.

He was also reportedly the first choice to play the lead role in the aborted production of Batman Year One set to be directed by Darren Aronofsky who would also co-write with Frank Miller, which fell to the wayside and was then replaced by Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins.

On the Marvel side of the fence, he also reportedly turned down the role of Doctor Strange before it was taken on by Benedict Cumberbatch. Whether this solo Joker outing comes to fruition and if so, whether it’ll remain outside the DCEU remains to be seen, either way it would be nice to see Warner Bros. employing some common sense and keeping such a project within the shared universe that they’re trying so hard to establish.