The Joaquin Phoenix Joker Movie May Be Coming Out Much Sooner Than We Expected

The Joker in 'The Killing Joke'

The Joker in The Killing Joke | DC Comics

The Joaquin Phoenix Joker origin story film is moving forward, and it might actually hit theaters a lot sooner than we expected.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Todd Phillips-helmed movie is gearing up to start shooting in September, and it could be released as soon as late 2019.

That’s a surprisingly quick turnaround for a film that we started hearing rumors about less than a year ago and only received official confirmation of today. It’s also surprising because there’s normally a lengthy amount of time between Warner Bros. announcing a comic book film and its eventual release, and we usually know the official opening date far in advance.

It’s becoming quite clear, though, that Warner Bros. is approaching this movie in an entirely different way than the DC universe films. For one, this is going to come out under a separate label, so it has nothing to do with the film universe as seen in Suicide Squad. Instead, the studio’s post-Justice League strategy appears to involve trying a lot of different things with their characters and drifting away from the cinematic universe idea a tad.

That said, for now, Warner Bros. isn’t abandoning the cinematic universe entirely, and there’s actually a separate Joker movie coming out that will star Jared Leto; this one will be set in the continuity established by Suicide Squad. That film is still in the works, although it’s not as far in development, so we’ll likely be seeing the Joaquin Phoenix one first.

Warner Bros. says that this Joker movie, which doesn’t yet have a title, will be an “exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.” It will have a budget of just $55 million, which pales in comparison to Suicide Squad‘s $175 million. It appears this movie will be a lot more character focused and not as action-heavy, though.

joaquin phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix | David Buchan/Getty Images

We first started hearing about this Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie in August of last year, with Deadline reporting that it would be a grounded crime-drama set in the 1980s with a tone reminiscent of Taxi Driver. In fact, at the time it was reported that Martin Scorsese was going to produce, although Deadline reports this week that he’s no longer attached to the project.

Warner Bros. already plans to release two DC films in 2019: Shazam! in April and Wonder Woman 1984 in November. It’s possible we could see the Joker origin story after Wonder Woman 1984, especially if the studio thinks the film could actually receive some awards recognition.

Currently, an absolutely insane number of DC projects are in development, and at least four of them involve the Joker in some way. In addition to that standalone movie with Jared Leto, there’s also a spinoff about the Joker and Harley Quinn in the works. Plus, the Joker is expected to appear in Suicide Squad 2.

These Joker plans are so confusing that even Jared Leto himself says he doesn’t really understand it. “I’m a little confused too,” he said in a 2017 interview. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Leto was “caught off guard” by news of the separate Joker movie and “is said to have made his displeasure with the notion of multiple Jokers known.”