Warner Bros might have had some spectacular misfires with their DC Comics adaptations, but thanks to the remarkable performance of Joker – arguably its darkest, most controversial and only R-rated film to date – it seems things are on the up for the studio. A return to a more grounded world and standalone movies that separate it from the typical Marvel formula may be something the studio could consider making more of.
Written and directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, Joker tells a completely revamped origin story of Batman’s iconic villain. Phoenix’s take on the character has drawn tonnes of praise, despite how much it deviates from the comics. Of course, this is far from the only controversial recent rendition of the Joker though as Jared Leto also gave us a divisive take on the character in 2016’s Suicide Squad. And if Leto had his way, his would have been the only take as a report from The Hollywood Reporter reveals how the actor tried to stop Phillips’ film from getting made.
According, to the report, Leto was upset when he heard about the standalone Joker movie – specifically he was angry with his agency at the time (CAA) for not telling him about its existence of this film and for him not being considered for it. He asked CAA to reach out to WB and put the film on hold as he felt that his contract regarding the role and potential promise of his own Joker movie should’ve prevented the studio from making another movie. However, when CAA didn’t acquiesce to his requests, as they felt it was not their responsibility to put pressure on a big studio, he subsequently left them and decided to join a different agency.
Since we don’t have any confirmation from either Leto or CAA, I’m not sure exactly how true this story is. If it is true though, it appears Leto has somehow been unable to come out of character playing the Clown Prince of Crime and seems to be making a mockery out of himself with his behaviour. Not only was his performance of the Joker quite disliked – reportedly not just by fans but also by the studio and director David Ayer which is why a lot of his performance from Suicide Squad was cut – but considering how this Joker film came about completely separately from the rest of the DCEU and was a pet project of both Philips and Phoenix, it was never for him to star in it anyway.
In fact, I can’t picture anyone other than Phoenix playing the role of Arthur Fleck (aka The Joker), a character that is a wholly original creation. It was a role and script which was meant for a very different take on the Joker and deserves to be a standalone movie given how different it feels and the deep, personal story it tells. Let’s hope it stays that way and that Warner Bros can do their part on staying far away from returning such an iconic character to the crazy sideshow Leto wanted it to be.
Last Updated: October 21, 2019