Co-writer and director Phillips recently revealed to Variety that vegan actor Joaquin Phoenix is the top contender to play the title role. What is unexpected, however, is that this is going to be a standalone movie-and potentially a period piece-completely removed from WB's DC Extended Universe (or whatever it's called these days).
Confusingly, it has been reported that he will likely reprise the role in Suicide Squad 2 and the Joker-Harley Quinn movie that is now in development. Suddenly, DC Comics' recent announcement that the Joker's real name, long left deliberately unknown, is Jack Napier (a callback to the 1989 Tim Burton Batman movie) makes a lot more sense from a synergy perspective. However, negotiations at Warner Bros. are not yet underway.
In addition to directing, Phillips will help write the script while film icon, Martin Scorsese, will serve as producer for the gritty film that will follow the character's life in Gotham City and his road to becoming the infamous supervillain.
If he gets the part, this will be the first time Phoenix has starred as a comic book character.
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As alluded to earlier, Leto will not be featured in this film, since the movie would fall under a yet-to-be-announced new banner of DC Comics that would give rise to a whole new set of original storylines.
He was previously in talks to play Lex Luther in the catastrophe that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and was said to be in consideration to lead Doctor Strange (a role that went to Benedict Cumberbatch in the end) but the actor ended up turning down both superhero films.
Phoenix was apparently indecisive about the project at the start. Phillips had allegedly met with Phoenix sometime in December to successfully convince the Inherent Vice actor to assume the role of The Joker.
Phoenix now stars in the 2018 flick "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot".