First Look: Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker

What started as eye-roll inducing and utterly unnecessary addition to DC’s movie slate, The Joker prequel is starting to show promise. Boasting an impressive cast, led by Joaquin Phoenix as the clown prince of crime himself, the as-yet-untitled movie has become more intriguing with each announcement.

And today’s announcement is no different. Todd Phillips, the director best known for comedies like the Hangover series, released a few stills over twitter. While we don’t see Phoenix is full Joker make up we do get an interesting depiction of who The Joker was before he became a villain.

A New Look for an Old Foe

The long hair is reminiscent of Heath Ledger’s dishevelled and chaotic Joker in the Dark Knight. It is not hard to imagine it with green tints. This is, in part, to the fact that Phoenix is already in Joker colors, albeit muted ones. The coat above has a green tint to it. While in set shots we can see blueish purple pants and dark magenta sweater.  All of this subtlety hinting at the criminal mastermind who is lurking underneath the surface. It’s a nice nod and not surprising coming from award-wining costume designer Mark Bridges.

It has been previously reported that the film would take place in the 80’s making Phoenix’s 70’s attire outdated. This gives some credence to the rumor he is a struggling comedian similar to the famous one-off comic The Killing Joke.

The clown imagery against the decaying city has elements of Burton’s two outings with the Caped Crusader but with something new.  There is nothing lavish or Gothic or overly stylistic in what we are seeing here.  Rather we are given notes or hits of a DC world, even more subtly than Nolan’s work. Could we get a simple crime thriller with just a dash of Gotham’s Man Who Laughs? Might this be a far more grounded and engaging story than we’ve seen from DC in sometime? It’s too early to tell, but the news on this movies keeps looking up.