Yesterday we got our first official look at Joaquin Phoenix in character for Todd Phillip's upcoming standalone Joker film. Because Joker is an origin story, we will see the character's transformation from a (presumably) regular person into the Clown Prince of Crime. This first image shows the man before that transformation, a man named Arthur Fleck. On its face, that name doesn't mean much, but filmmaker and noted Batman fan, Kevin Smith has spotted a funny connection between Joaquin Phoenix's Joker and the actor who plays the Joker's nemesis in the DCEU, Ben Affleck. Take a look:
That's pretty funny. It's almost too coincidental. What is his middle name, 'Martha?' Maybe Joker writer-director Todd Phillips and screenwriter Scott Silver are just trolling everyone, using the name of Joaquin Phoenix's failed comedian to deliver some meta-humor referencing the character's greatest foe in WB's separate DCEU films. Although, if Batman and the Joker really are two sides of the same coin, it would make sense that we see them reflected in each other in different ways, even if this film takes place in a separate universe. Of course, this is all probably just coincidence and the name Arthur Fleck was chosen for other reasons that have more to do with the character Joaquin Phoenix is playing before he sheds that moniker and becomes the Joker. But this coincidence will bring a deluge of 'Sad Affleck' memes nonetheless.
With Joker being divorced from the DCEU, this film will presumably have a lot of freedom to do things differently and put a spin on the character we haven't seen before, as well as inserting little connections and Easter eggs like this (even if this wasn't intentional). It's funny that Kevin Smith picked up on this, considering that he is a huge comic book fan who has collaborated with Ben Affleck multiple times in the past and is a defender of his Batman portrayal. Speaking of that portrayal, Ben Affleck is still Batman at the moment, but it remains to be seen if that holds true in Matt Reeves' Batman film. With the DCEU coming apart at the seams, maybe he could just hop in to Joker to give the actor one more opportunity with the character.
That said, much of Joker is still a mystery. Beyond the broad strokes of Arthur Fleck being a failed comedian living in New York City, we don't really know much about the film. And although I think everyone is expecting to see Arthur Fleck fully transform into a bleached skinned, green haired villain, we don't know if the story will show him coming in to contact with who will be his eternal enemy, Batman.
Joker is directed by Todd Phillips and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Marc Maron, Frances Conroy, Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz. Joker is now filming and is scheduled to open in theaters on October 4, 2019. Keep an eye on our guide all the latest DC movie news and check out the release calendar for all the biggest movies to get you through the rest of 2018.