Todd Phillips’ Joker was an entirely different comic book movie than the action-packed epics that audiences have become accustomed to over the last two decades, and while it largely told an original story, it still connected to the established Batman mythology. At this point, fans would be okay if they never had to see Thomas and Martha Wayne gunned down in an alley again, but it did at least inform Arthur Fleck’s character arc instead of simply providing an overly familiar scenario with no context.
Of course, the entire point of making Joker was to create a standalone entity that wasn’t forced into being part of a shared universe, but that hasn’t stopped rumors from making the rounds that Joaquin Phoenix was being courted to join the DCEU. After all, with The Flash set to open up the franchise’s multiverse, the highest-grossing R-rated movie in history will technically be a part of canon even though it exists in an entirely different reality from the rest of Warner Bros. and DC’s output.
Matt Reeves’ The Batman is also set to occupy its own corner of the DCEU, but as a Dark Knight franchise, the smart money is on his arch nemesis appearing somewhere down the line. In fact, following on from the reports that the studio had offered Joaquin Phoenix $50 million to return for two sequels, tipster Mikey Sutton has now claimed that they’ve also floated the possibility of having him encounter Pattinson’s rebooted Caped Crusader at some point.
As exciting as that sounds on paper, it would only create more confusion with the DCEU timeline. The Batman presumably takes place in the modern day, while Joker was set in 1981. If Phoenix did suddenly show up in Reeves’ Gotham City, he’d either be a very old man or a suitable storytelling explanation would have to be found that makes sense in the gritty and more realistic worlds of both movies.