The Joaquin Phoenix 'Joker' origin movie has officially been given the greenlight

Posted by
Mike Rampton
15 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About The Dark Knight 4

After lots of online speculation, Todd Phillips’ long rumoured ‘Joker’ movie will start shooting very soon

Joaquin Phoenix is a pretty weird guy, which makes him perfect casting for the Joker. He’s set to play the Clown Prince of Crime (NB. They don’t use that nickname anymore because it’s fairly lame) in a movie written and directed by Todd Phillips of The Hangover and Road Trip fame.

Something that we imagine is probably really annoying the current Joker,  Jared Leto, poor guy…

Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Phillips' Joker film is coming together 1

Anyhow, back to where we were. The Joaquin Joker project is 100% definitely happening, with filming starting this September under a moderate $55 million (moderate, ha!) budget. According to That Hashtag Show, key production positions have now been filled: casting director Shayna Markowitz (Ocean’s 8), cinematographer Laurence Sher (the Hangover trilogy), production designer Mark Friedberg (Noah) and costume designer Mark Bridges (Fifty Shades of Grey).

The film, said to be inspired by the work of Martin Scorcese (who is on board as an executive producer - what a line-up, right?) and the Killing Joke comic written by Alan Moore and drawn by Brian Bolland, is taking place in a separate continuity to the Justice League/Wonder Woman/Suicide Squad/Ben Affleck universe, so the casting director might have a certain bat-shaped cowl to fill.

Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Phillips' Joker film is coming together 2

Or she might not. While Batman features heavily in The Killing Joke, that comic has two narratives: a “present-day” one and the story of how the Joker came to be. 

The phrase “origin story” keeps coming up in connection with this project, so it might end up just dealing with the Joker’s genesis. If they go down that road, Batman will be in it – he is involved in the chemical-plant incident that leads to the Joker’s transformation – but only briefly. In fact, if they go down that road we might not even see much of the actual Joker, just the “before” model.

The Killing Joke is a controversial comic for several reasons: its treatment of Barbara Gordon has drawn a lot of criticism for its over-the-top violence, which is treated quite graphically and mainly as part of someone else’s story, and writer Alan Moore has distanced himself from it, calling it “not very good”.

Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Phillips' Joker film is coming together 3

Whatever is going on with the film, whether it’s the whole comic (in which case Commissioner Gordon is the other big casting challenge), the origin story or something else entirely, there’s one more detail we know about: its production working title, which is currently: Romeo. Or at least for production purposes until a cinematic title is finalised.

(NB. This doesn’t at all mean it’ll be called that. You just need to have a name on a film in production. Solo: A Star Wars Story went into production under the name Red Cup (lol), for instance.)

We really want this to be good. Not because Jared Leto’s Joker was rubbish – although it was – but because Phoenix just seems like he could really own it. Like, if they do the before-and-after, and he brings both the ridiculous insularity of his I’m Still Here persona and the scenery-chewing skills he displayed in Gladiator, that could be incredible. We wanna see Phoenix unlock proper Nic Cage levels of madness.

(Pics: Getty, Warner Bros., DC)