The Joker movie is moving fast. Last week the standalone DC film got a title and October 2019 release date after finally landing a greenlight from Warner Bros., then casting kicked up with Atlanta breakout Zazie Beets entering talks to star alongside Joaquin Phoenix as the titular Clown Prince. Now casting is continuing, with none other than Robert De Niro. Yes indeed, THR reports that the King of Comedy star himself is in talks to join Joker, which would mark his first ever comic book project. He would be playing a talk show host who proves instrumental to the Joker’s origin. This casting possibility was previously floated by Collider’s own Jeff Sneider a week ago.
The project is unconnected to the existing DCEU, as director Todd Phillips (War Dogs) dreamt up a mid-budget, gritty, 80s-set take on the DC villain that won’t be tied down to franchise responsibilities or wide-audience appeal. Instead, Joker is envisioned as a drama more in the vein of 70s films like Taxi Driver, with Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy mentioned as a potential touchstone.
Phoenix plays The Joker in the film, but even then we don’t exactly know what that means. Are we seeing a straight origin story? Is the script by Phillips and Scott Silveri pulling from any specific comics, or is it simply taking the mere idea nugget of The Joker and expanding upon that in a unique way?
We’ll likely find out soon enough as filming on Joker is expected to get underway in September in New York. De Niro has been on a string of disappointing turns in films like Dirty Grandpa and The Comedian as of late, but he most recently wrapped a reunion with Martin Scorsese for the Netflix gangster epic The Irishman, which is expected to be released in 2019.