In marked contrast to the fun, fantastic, and surprising Warner Brothers release Shazam!, finally arriving in theaters in general release today and reviewed previously here at borg, film fans now have their first look at Warner Brothers’ fall release, Joker. For a franchise from the same superhero universe, you couldn’t find a most strikingly dissimilar pair of films, if the first trailer for Joker is any indication of the rest of the film. Joaquin Phoenix is stepping in this time to fill the role previously played by Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Jared Leto, Cameron Monaghan, and even Mark Hamill in animated versions, and countless others. This time the character is named Arthur Fleck, so we don’t know whether this is truly the same as the other Jokers or just some parallel world incarnation of the larger-than-life, psychotic, clown villain who became a household word for TV audiences as portrayed by Cesar Romero in the 1960s.
If audiences and fans of DC Comics and DC movies know one character inside and out, it’s the Joker. So why another movie with the Joker, and more to the point, why another origin story? Phoenix, the multiple Academy Award-nominated actor from Gladiator, Walk the Line, and The Master, digs in with great, nuanced skill in all of his roles, and Joker will no doubt be any different. So if you’re still a fan of the dozen recent dark visions into the superhero universe of DC Comics, Phoenix probably is a solid casting choice. But can you really have a major Joker tale without Batman? What about all that “creating each other” business? The market certainly seems saturated with dark comics adaptations and we’re hoping Shazam! will grab audiences so we see more superhero films like it and The Lego Batman Movie ahead, or DC could split the difference and mine the Marvel Cinematic Universe for some fresh ideas. But first, it’s going to be a Joker tale later this year.
Check it out for yourself, the first trailer for Joker:
Joker arrives in theaters in general release October 4, 2019.