Why Joaquin Phoenix Would Be The Perfect Fit To Play The Joker

The Master Joaquin Phoenix Freddie takes a picture

There's a story making the rounds that Joaquin Phoenix might be in the running for Todd Phillips' stand-alone origin film involving The Joker. A project that's not connected to the DC Extended Universe that Suicide Squad is a part of, this is already a pretty hot prospect for Warner Bros, considering Martin Scorsese is potentially executive producing the project and Leonardo DiCaprio was once rumored to be a candidate for the film's lead. However, with Phoenix's name in the mix, the potential match is too perfect to ignore.

For starters, a violent / crazed personality is one that Joaquin Phoenix has perfected throughout various stages in his career. From earlier turns such as Toby N. Tucker in Oliver Stone's U-Turn, to more recent roles such as Freddie Quell in Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, Phoenix is well versed in characters of this ilk. Those intimidating figures that are smiling, playful imps one moment, only to quickly pivot into punch-throwing, knife-wielding brawlers of rage the next. A fine line exists between both of those worlds, and it's one that Joaquin Phoenix has walked frequently in his storied resume. The best example of such unpredictability can be seen in a scene from The Master, in which a mild-mannered picture day with Freddie turns into a department store brawl that no one would have ever expected.

Also, on top of that particular skill, Joaquin Phoenix is a consummate actor who routinely tackles so many dimensions in the work that he approaches. Even in his meta "retirement" documentary I'm Still Here, the fact that he could pretend to quit acting, delve into this sort of art house project in a new persona, and come out the other end returning to work means a lot. Additionally, the fact that his work hasn't lost a step since that experiment is further proof that Phoenix's skill-set is more than ready to take a fresh approach to the legendary villainy that The Joker is known for throughout the DC Continuum.

Most importantly though is the fact that approaching any other actor at this point, especially someone as talented as Phoenix, only helps add more mystique to the character of The Joker. As he legendarily proclaimed in Alan Moore's The Killing Joke, if The Joker was ever to have an origin story, it'd have to be multiple choice. While audiences favor singular interpretations of a character throughout any universe's phase of play, having multiple actors playing The Joker only lends to the villain's unpredictable nature. With different players comes different quirks, and as such, it helps throw the audience off balance when it comes to what they should expect.

And in the end, that's the most fascinating part of the character of The Joker, as well as whenever Joaquin Phoenix signs on for a new gig. Looking at the advanced buzz and even the trailer for Phoenix's latest film, You Were Never Really Here, that crazy streak of energy and violence that's followed the actor throughout various roles in his career is alive and well. To give him a chance to channel that all into Gotham City's clown prince of crime is not only a good idea, it's the best idea. With further unpredictability coming from the fact that Old School and The Hangover director Todd Phillips is helming the project, all involved are making an interesting stew of chaotic excitement, with Joaquin Phoenix being the hot sauce this baby needs to become the volatile surprise we all need to see in the world of The Joker.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.