While Warner Bros. is about to release the colorful, family-centric DC adaptation Shazam!, the studio has a very different kind of DC Comics movie on tap later this year: Joker. The 1981-set film is described as a one-off, standalone adaptation of the iconic Batman villain with Joaquin Phoenix taking on the titular role, and co-writer/director Todd Phillips has shared a new look at Phoenix in character.
Phillips is knee-deep in the editing phase at the moment, and took a minute to share a snap of Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, who subsequently turns into the Joker. We don’t exactly know how or why, but we do know the character is a failed stand-up comedian, and early reports during development described the film’s tone as Taxi Driver-esque.
It’s actually a different melancholy drama that this image evokes for me: Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Maybe it’s just the black-and-white and Phoenix’s old-fashioned look, but to me this image evokes the jaw-dropping cinematography of Roger Deakins in that now-classic (if underrated) Western.
We’re likely not too far away from a trailer for Joker, although it remains to be see if Warner Bros. will promote this grittier film alongside Shazam!, or if they’ll give it some breathing room to avoid brand confusion. Joker is said to have nothing to do with the established DC Extended Universe and may not even be spawning its own franchise, so there’s pretty much nothing to tie it to Shazam! beyond the fact that they’re both based on DC Comics characters.
Anyway, check out the new image below, and we can discuss further when the trailer arrives… at some point. The film hits theaters on October 4th and also stars Zazie Beets, Robert De Niro, Marc Maron, Shea Whigham, Frances Conroy, Bill Camp, and Glenn Fleshler.