Why We’re Seriously Worried About The New Joker Movie

The state of the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) is, and has always been, in a complete sense of displacement. Sure, Wonder Woman was a pleasant surprise, Aquaman was silly entertainment and Shazam! has unexpected heart. Yet the fact remains that there’s no way to comprehend where these movies are headed, and if they’re even connected after the financial and critical failure of Justice League. In fact, nothing sums up the current state of the DC films more than the trailer for Todd Phillips’ upcoming Joker.

Warner Bros. has confirmed it’s a one-off movie with no ties to the DCEU and no major impact on future films. It’s just an origin story of the character we all know and love. Joker is more then “just” a comic book character, though. He’s arguably the greatest comic book villain of all time, so much so that people love him more than the hero he’s constantly at odds with. That adoration and love to hate relationship with the Clown Prince of Crime is exactly why having his own origin movie is destined to disappoint audiences once it’s released in October. In fact, we’d even go so far as to say that it’s sure to add yet another blemish for DC fans worldwide.

Since his initial comic book appearance in Batman Issue # 1 in 1940, the Joker made an immediate impact in pop culture. Originally planned to be killed off at the end of the first storyline, he quickly became Batman’s archenemy. Due to his homicidal nature, he’s always been the hero’s number one priority during his nights of vigilantism. Chronicling through all of Joker’s comic book history would take far too long, but all that you need to know is that comic book readers have never tired of his appearances, and calling him a fan favorite would be a considerable understatement. His silver screen appearances don’t disappoint, either, and every new incarnation of the character has caused excitement.

Tim Burton’s 1990 film, Batman, was a massive smash and paved the way for superhero movies to come, especially those with more adult themes and a darker nature. Suicide Squad, a DCEU film so bad that the upcoming sequel is somehow also a reboot, made boatloads of cash mainly because of Jared Leto’s role as the Joker in it. His screen time was limited and he had no direct impact on the actual plot, yet the presence of Joker and his involvement in the marketing caused lineups worldwide to see another version of the villain.

It was Heath Ledger who defined the Joker on the big screen, though, giving us one of the most memorable movie performances of all time. Everything about his terrifying portrayal of the Joker is legendary. From his little trademark facial ticks or serial killer behavior with victims, Ledger’s take on the character will never be forgotten or replaced. Still, a new candidate has entered the mix, hoping to join the Joker Hall of Fame (which Mark Hamill is also proudly part of). Joaquin Phoenix has been cast and he seems to have the acting chops to pull off what Ledger did before him.

Phoenix is a master performer who’s very selective about the work he does. He doesn’t do many mainstream films and likes to venture into very interesting territory with the roles he can sink his teeth into. It’s easy to watch something like You Were Never Really Here and see why he’d be cast as someone prone to violent acts of unflinching murder.  Though it’s when Phoenix’s roles are quiet and subdued that the Oscar nominated actor truly shines. His skin can bubble with rage without saying a word, his eyes dart with paranoid terror, and his smile can appear manically unnerving. All of these are elements that come easy with turning into the Joker and crafting a new version of him.

The initial trailer that was released the other week shows Phoenix as someone on the fringes of mental stability. He eventually becomes the biggest criminal Gotham City has ever seen. Even in the trademark Joker makeup, he looks the part, with scraggly dirty hair and murderous red lipstick. He looks similar to Ledger’s version, but different enough for it not to be visual plagiarism.

While Phoenix may look up to the challenge of taking on such an iconic role, it’s that he‘s playing a comic book character in a comic book world. Arkham locations and multiple members of the Wayne family are spotted throughout the trailer, confirming it takes places in Gotham, yet it’s without the sole reason he could even exist in one in the first place: Batman. That’s right folks, without Batman, there is no Joker.