Warner Bros.’ upcoming Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, sits firmly outside of the DCEU. The project obviously remains largely under wraps, but director Todd Phillips has posted several teaser photos from the film, which is understood to be a 1980s take on Arthur Fleck’s origins before he became the full-fledged Clown Prince of Crime. So, we’re definitely not getting the flamboyantly “damaged” version recently embodied by Jared Leto. This will be more of a gritty, cerebral story, according to Joker actor Marc Maron as revealed to NME.
The outspoken podcast host will embody a mystery character named Ted Marco, and Maron discussed how he “couldn’t believe” that he filmed a scene with Phoenix and Robert De Niro (who will play Murray Franklin, a late-night talk host) in New York. Although Maron has been upfront about his distaste for superhero movies in the past, he clarified why he signed onto this project and also revealed how the movie’s a “character study“:
“I think it’s a very interesting approach to this world. I’ve been somewhat judgemental when it comes to comic book movies and I’ve got a little pushback in the press for being a hypocrite. Whatever I think, if you get a call and someone says, ‘Hey do you wanna do a scene with Robert De Niro and Joaquin Phoenix?’ your principles fall to the wayside.
“If it’s relative to what I think of Marvel movies then it’s like, ‘Yeah, of course I’m gonna do that.’ Oddly, it’s not that kind of movie. The approach that Todd Phillips has taken is more of an origin story and a character study of a mentally ill person that becomes The Joker. It’s more of an intimate and gritty movie with a very specific scope.”
The smaller scope of the movie checks out with the film’s reported $55 million budget, which is a fraction of what the average comic book movie costs to produce. Along with Phoenix, Maron, and De Niro, the film will also star Zazie Beetz as Fleck’s love interest, Sophie Dumond; with Brett Cullen stepping in for Alec Baldwin as Thomas Wayne (father to Bruce). Looking back at Todd Phillips’ revelation of Phoenix’s first look (with some serious John Wayne Gacy vibes) the claimed character-study approach appears to be on point.
Joker will arrive in theaters on October 4, 2019.