Who Should Play The Joker In Todd Phillips’ Origin Film?

Written By: Nick Poulimenakos

While the DC Extended Universe kicks into high gear with the release of Justice League along with a slew of other films, Warner Bros. is reportedly starting a brand new DC film franchise. One that won’t be set in the main DCEU timeline and opt for more standalone films instead of an interconnected universe. And what’s the film that might kick off this franchise? An origin film about DC Comics’ most famous villain, The Joker. The film is currently being directed, co-written and co-produced by The Hangover’s Todd Phillips and has Martin Scorsese as a producer as well. Since the film won’t have Jared Leto (who plays The Joker in the DCEU) starring, I thought it would be a great time to create a list of who I think should play The Joker in this new film. So, on with this list ladies and gentleman!


  1. Leonardo DiCaprio

Reuniting Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio for a movie about the clown prince of crime? Yes, a thousand times yes. While the initial report suggested that the film is looking to use a younger Joker, one could assume that maybe, in this film universe, The Joker turns to crime when he becomes much older. DiCaprio would definitely bring a lot of talent to an 80’s gritty crime thriller. If his filmography proves anything, it’s that he can play funny (The Wolf of Wall Street), crazy (Shutter Island) and has plenty of experience in the crime world (Catch Me if You Can). Plus, aside from Django Unchained, DiCaprio hasn’t really dived into a psychotically evil character, and could be a very fun challenge for the Oscar winning actor.


  1. Karen Gillian

I know, what’s Karen Gillian doing on a potential Joker casting list? First of all, I included her because when asked what DC character she would want to play, her answer was The Joker. But that’s not really the reason why I included her. Anyone who has seen Guardians of the Galaxy knows that Karen Gillian has villain experience, thanks to her character, Nebula. Gillian’s performance as Thanos’ daughter is over-the-top, charismatic and devilishly fun. On top of that, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 showed fans that Nebula also has quite the tortured past, something a Joker origin film will absolutely have. If DC is looking to make a bold move in the superhero genre, then a female led Joker film would be a big step in that direction.


  1. Iwan Rheon

I was hesitant to include good-old Ramsey Bolton on this list because I don’t want the actor to become typecast as a villain in every movie and T.V show he plays. That being said, Iwan Rheon would play a fantastic young Joker. It’s clear from his role as the famous Game Of Thrones villain that Rheon knows how to play an utterly sadistic character. One that has no remorse and takes pleasure in causing pain to the innocent. Plus, if the Marvel’s Inhumans trailer has proven anything, it’s that Rheon can totally pull of an American accent. However, a British Joker set in a crime thriller film would be exciting. But DC wouldn’t do that…


  1. Matt Smith

He’s not the most obvious choice to play such a scary character, but Matt Smith has the look and personality to play Gotham’s resident killer clown. Known for playing the Eleventh Doctor on the hit sci-fi series, Doctor Who, Matt Smith’s incarnation of the doctor was more quirky and spontaneous than previous versions. He certainly has the comedic and charismatic aspects down packed, but it’s his performance on Netflix’s The Crown that shows how versatile Smith truly is. He can go from dramatic and tragic to comedic and aloof at the snap of a finger and that’s why Smith deserves a spot on this list.


  1. Christian Bale

You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. The immortal words spoken by Harvey Dent to Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Christian Bale is done playing superheroes, but that doesn’t mean he can’t step back into the DC world one more time for a villain role. It shouldn’t be too hard for Bale to dip into a performance as The Joker as he has shown time and time again that he is one of the most versatile actors out there. Playing a hero, anti-hero, magician, boxer/drug-addict and, of course, a literal American psycho, Bale was almost made to play a character like The Joker. Just as long as he doesn’t do his Batman voice…


  1. James Franco

Take his characters from Spring Breakers, This Is The End, 127 Hours and Spider-Man and you can probably get a good idea of what a James Franco Joker would be. Totally unhinged, viciously comedic, and 100% crazy.  Once again, Franco is on the older side but he doesn’t look it. I’d even go onto say that Franco is quite underrated and a performance as the villain who wants his origin to be multiple choice could show viewers that Franco is at the top of his game. We’ve already seen him descend from man into tragic villain in the Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise so this is second nature to him. He’s got the look, the voice and the charisma, what more could you ask for?


  1. Jake Gyllenhaal

Insane, sadistic, tragic, hilarious, dark, and above all else, violent, Jake Gyllenhaal has done it all and that’s why he takes the number one spot on our list. Imagine Gyllenhaal’s characters from Nightcrawler, Okja, and Donnie Darko meshed together and set in a crime ridden 1980’s. If you’re looking for the word to describe that scenario, the word is perfect. The most adaptable actor on this list, Gyllenhaal would absolutely own the role. And the cherry on top, he can pull off the Joker’s maniacal laugh, something that is arguably one of the most important aspects of the character. Should DC actually move forward with Todd Phillips and Martin Scorsese’s origin film, Jake Gyllenhaal is our choice to take on the role of Batman’s greatest enemy.

Honourable mentions: Crispin Glover, David Tennant, Christoph Waltz, Will Poulter, Mahershala Ali and Riz Ahmed.

 What do you think of our choices? Let us know in the comments and on social media!

 The Next DC film out in theatres is Zack Snyder’s Justice League and it premieres on November 17, 2017.


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