To say that films based on DC Comics franchises have been mostly disappointing is putting it mildly. And now it appears as if Joaquin Phoenix and director Todd Phillips are about to be the latest to attempt to change the comic book publishers fortunes, but will they succeed?
In 1978 DC made the first splash with a superhero film, and it was a huge success. Superman proved that comic books could be a great source for film. After a few sequels started to derail the franchise, they moved onto Batman in 1989. In Batman’s case as well sequels killed the series, and eventually DC Comics went quiet once more. In 2005 though they changed the game, made Batman more realistic, and once again the superhero genre took off. Sure Marvel had seen some success with Spider-man and the X-Men during that time, but DC proved they were still the leaders with the higher quality films. Oh how things have changed though. Since then they’ve mostly floundered, and instead of leading the way in the genre, they’ve been reacting to what Marvel comics has put out instead. And so far it’s mostly failed. Their darker Superman was panned, Suicide Squad was a joke, and Batfleck was mocked. The only film that truly worked was Wonder Woman, and that’s because they decided to lead the field again and go their own way. There weren’t any female superhero films they could model themselves after. As for Justice League? It was a mess. Even bringing in Joss Whedon didn’t help, because they did it too late into the game. He couldn’t reshoot the entire movie after all. Which brings us to the Joker movie.
In case you don’t know who Todd Phillips is, he’s the director of the Hangover films, Old School, Starsky Hutch and Road Trip. Are you sensing a theme yet? He’s a comedy director. And a very specific type of crude, Generation X type of humor. Sure, directors can take on other genres and be very successful at it, but there is a feeling here that he’s going to turn the Joker into his next humour-filled project. Yes, the Joker is a clown, but he’s a very demented clown who shouldn’t be taken lightly. and if you know anything about his origin, you know it is a very tragic story. With Phillips directing and co-writing the film we’re starting to get a very bad feeling that he will miss the point of the character altogether, which would be a shame. Phoenix could change that though.
Joaquin Phoenix could bring an eeriness to the Joker that Jared Leto just couldn’t. Phoenix has the potential to turn the character into someone even more psychotic than Heath Ledger managed to do for his Oscar winning performance in The Dark Knight. While there has been no official negotiations between Phoenix and Warner Brothers for the film just yet, Phillips has let it be known that he wants Phoenix and that Phoenix has agree to do it. If this does happen, Phoenix very well could save the film.
The Joker origin movie is still in pre-production, and isn’t scheduled to be released for awhile. In the meantime DC Comics only has their Aquaman movie slated to be released this year.
Photo: Georges Biard on Wikipedia