Why fans are skeptical of Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker movie

The Joker solo movie—succinctly titled Joker—is one of the stranger items on Warner Bros.’ DC Comics movie schedule. Reportedly aiming for a more serious, adult-rated tone, it features a star-studded cast and an overall concept that has many DC fans raising their eyebrows.

Joker is one of several Joker-related movies being developed by Warner Bros., but with Martin Scorsese producing and Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role, this film went ahead while the Suicide Squad spinoffs languish in Development Hell. Here’s everything you need to know about this ambitious new addition to the DCEU, from casting news to a spoiler-free overview of the plot.

Joker movie plot

Set in the 1980s, this is a Joker origin story, an idea that some Batman fans find dubious on a fundamental level. The Joker is popular, but best used sparingly, with minimal explanation for his actions. More to the point, he’s the kind of chaos-driven character where exploring his backstory and motives may actually spoil the effect—as The Dark Knight illustrated by having Heath Ledger offer fake explanations for his scarred face. Joker is rumored, to begin with, the title character as a failed stand-up comedian and will explore his relationship with his mother. It may also depict a very unusual interpretation of Thomas Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s father.

Joker movie cast

Joaquin Phoenix leads the cast, an unexpected choice for someone who usually focuses on non-blockbuster movies. Deadpool 2 breakout star Zazie Beetz will co-star as a single mom named Sophie Dumond, with Frances Dumond cast in an unnamed role that may be the Joker’s mother. Marc Maron and Robert De Niro also have significant supporting roles, with De Niro thought to be playing a talk show host.

deadpool 2's Zazie Beetz has been cast in the joker movie

Alec Baldwin was one of the most surprising casting announcements, reportedly tapped to play Batman’s father Thomas Wayne. The Hollywood Reporter described his portrayal as a “cheesy, tanned businessman a la 1980s Trump,” which is a far cry from the respectable Gotham philanthropist we see in most movies and comics. That would implicitly put a very different spin on Bruce Wayne’s childhood, although Warner Bros. hasn’t confirmed whether a young Bruce Wayne will appear in the movie, and Baldwin backed out of the film over “scheduling issues.” “I’m sure there are 25 guys who can play that part,” Baldwin told USA Today.

So far, there’s no indication that Joker will feature other superhero/villain characters from the DC pantheon, like Harley Quinn or the Penguin.

Joker movie creative team

Martin Scorsese is the big name here, but he’s only acting as co-producer. The Hangover’s Todd Phillips is directing and co-writing with Scott Silver, who wrote 8 Mile and The Fighter.

Described as a “hard-boiled crime drama” and unofficially compared to the Scorsese classic Taxi Driver, we shouldn’t expect this to be a CGI-fuelled blockbuster like Warner Bros.’ other DC movies. Working on a $55 million budget, it’s more likely to be a gritty street-level story with fewer special effects—and almost certainly an R-rating.

joker dark knight

How does the Joker movie fit into the DCEU?

Joker is a standalone movie, seemingly unconnected to the existing films in the Warner Bros. franchise. Given the timeline, it can’t be a prequel to Suicide Squad‘s Joker because Joaquin Phoenix is only a couple of years younger than Jared Leto. If Suicide Squad 2 or the Harley Quinn spinoffs get into gear soon, we may get to see two unrelated Joker movies in quick succession.

Joker movie release date

Filming is due to begin in fall 2018, meaning the movie could come out in late 2019. However, Warner Bros. hasn’t finalized a release date yet.

Joker movie trailer

We’ll post this as soon as it arrives!

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