If you haven’t heard by now, Hollywood is making another movie about the Batman villain Joker. Yes, really. Another one. This time, three-time Oscar nominee and Very Serious actor Joaquin Phoenix will play the classic DC comics bad guy in a film directed by Todd Phillips, best known as the man responsible for The Hangover film trilogy.
Joker is the third movie to feature the Joker in the last decade. The classic Batman adversary was previously played by Jared Leto in a universally maligned performance in 2016’s Suicide Squad. (That Joker had tattoos and said things like “come to daddy!”)
Leto aside, Phoenix has some big shoes to fill. The Joker was bombastically played by Jack Nicholson in 1989, and with startling nuance by the late actor Heath Ledger in Christopher Nolan’s 2008 Batman film The Dark Knight. Ledger’s dazzlingly anarchic turn as the villain was truly one of the most remarkable villain performances of all time.
Why Hollywood still feels the need to reinterpret the character after Ledger perfected it is unclear, but either way, we’re getting more Joker. This is what Phoenix looks like in the newly released images:
Let’s get another angle:
For those familiar with the Joker, this probably isn’t what you were expecting. In the comics (and most cartoons and films based on those comics), the character usually looks something like this: white clown makeup, green hair, a menacingly permanent ear-to-ear grin. But in Phillips’ film, Joaquin looks like he’s auditioning to play Javier Bardem, not a world-renowned comic book villain.
The film will reportedly take place in the 1980s and trace the Joker’s evolution from a failed stand-up comedian into Gotham City menace and enemy of Batman. These photos of Phoenix appear to depict the Joker before he goes insane and starts wreaking havoc on the city, decked out in a clown suit.
Of course, the internet couldn’t resist making fun of Phoenix’s hipster-looking Joker. Reddit, as usual, had the best quips:
- “He looks like every man in Portland, Oregon.”
- “Bran Stark at 60 years old.”
- “Do you know how I got these tattoos…and clothes from Hot Topic?“
- “So it’s just…a picture of Joaquin Phoenix?“
- “First look at Joaquin Phoenix heading to the deli for a sandwich.”
- “This is actually a promotional still for No Country For Old Men II: Electric Boogaloo.”
- “I liked him in Donnie Darko.”
- “Wow! Almost unrecognizable.”
Twitter also had plenty to say:
Comedian Alec Baldwin was reportedly cast in the film as Thomas Wayne, the father of Bruce Wayne (also known as Batman). But Baldwin quickly said he had left the project, saying he would not play a role he described as a “Donald Trump manque.” Robert De Niro is in talks to join the film in a supporting role, according to the Hollywood Reporter. It’s scheduled to be released in October 2019.