joker origin movie

A few days ago, the news broke that Warner Bros. is developing a movie that would explore the origin story for The Joker. And while this Todd Phillips-drected, Martin Scorsese-produced project (!)  sounds like a profoundly bad idea on many levels, it got the /Film staff talking. Who would you cast as the young version of Batman’s arch-nemesis? And more specifically, who would you cast as the young Joker in a movie that will be a standalone film unconnected to the larger DCEU and therefore untethered to Jared Leto’s performance in Suicide Squad?

So we put our brains together and came up with 14 names. These are not the actors that we think would actually be cast as a young Joker. Instead, these are the actors we’d like to see cast as a young Joker. After all, if they’re going to make this movie, they might as well cast someone interesting in the lead.

Riz Ahmed The Night Of

Riz Ahmed

Let’s kick this off with an unconventional choice. Riz Ahmed (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Night Of) may not initially strike you as the perfect young Joker, but he has a deep, quiet intensity that would be a nice counterbalance to the often larger-than-life portrayals of the character that we’ve seen thus far. Ahmed has crazy range – watch him display puppy dog qualities opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler and contrast it with his neo-noir detective in City of Tiny Lights – and I’d love to see him lose himself in such an iconic villain role, especially so soon after playing a battered hero in Rogue One. Plus, it’d be an excellent opportunity for Warner Bros. to establish that this separate, non-DCEU breed of DC Comics movies doesn’t have to conform to much of Hollywood’s outdated expectations that a character has to have the same skin color as their comic counterpart. By embracing a different mentality, WB could further distinguish themselves from Marvel Studios and prove to be even more progressive than they have been already. A terrific actor like Ahmed could slay as The Joker, but we’ll never know for sure unless someone gives him a chance to prove it. (Ben Pearson)

Pete Davidson

Pete Davidson

One of Saturday Night Live‘s youngest cast members ever may seem like a totally random choice, but hear me out on this one. If Warner Bros. and DC Films choose to incorporate elements from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s notorious 1988 one-off comic The Killing Joke for this Joker origins movie – and since that comic is one of the few to actually address the origins of the Joker, it’s reasonable to think this is a strong possibility – it’d be cool to get an actual stand-up to play the role. In that comic, the Joker begins as just a regular guy, a failed stand-up comedian who gets sucked into a world of crime and is driven insane after an encounter with Batman at a chemical plant. It may be a little too on-the-nose to have Davidson play the part (although he’s a successful stand-up, not a failed one), but I feel like he has the potential to surprise us with a dramatic, memorable performance that no one sees coming. (Ben Pearson)

dane dehaan

Dane DeHaan

Dane DeHaan has had a string of misses when it comes to blockbusters, but a young Joker could be a way for him to redeem himself. Yes, his Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man 2 is exceptionally cringeworthy, and yes he was horribly miscast in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. But look back at his earlier work, in which he stole the scenes as the sensitive psychopath in Kill Your Darlings or portrayed a teen’s slow descent into power-hungry madness in Chronicle. Or simply, just look at him. The prominent eye bags, the ocean-blue eyes that hint at hidden darker tendencies. The fact that he looks like a very tired young Leonardo DiCaprio. Although DeHaan is already pushing 31, he looks simultaneously old and young at the same time, which is a feat unto itself. Whatever transformation the young Joker will go through, from what I’m assuming is an idealistic gangster to a hardened, mad criminal, is something that can be telegraphed just in DeHaan’s face. He looks a little mad, sometimes. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Paterson - Adam Driver

Adam Driver

Adam Driver is one of the finest actors of his generation working today. There’s no trend in the kind of roles he choosing, tackling everything from a redneck robber in Logan Lucky to the intense villain Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and a timid, strange love interest in HBO’s Girls to a lighthearted folk singer in Inside Llewyn Davis. While we’ve seen him in bad guy mode in Star Wars, The Joker is a different villain all together. It’s a role that requires just as much subtlety as it does bombastic behavior, and Adam Driver has proven that he can do both. When he’s quiet, he’s impressively intimidating, and when he’s loud, he’s extremely intense. The Joker requires an actor who can hit highs and lows back-to-back, and I can’t think of a more interesting actor to take on this role. (Ethan Anderton)

The Social Network - Andrew Garfield

Andrew Garfield

Since Andrew Garfield didn’t get a chance to play out his role as The Amazing Spider-Man to the very end, I’m betting he still has something to prove in the comic book movie department. If anything, maybe he can channel some of the frustration that came from his Spider-Man franchise falling apart into a proper villainous performance as the Clown Prince of Crime. Garfield shows an intensity in The Social Network that would fit The Joker perfectly, but I think it’s his timid role (though it is cheesy) in Hacksaw Ridge that shows Garfield has the range to play The Joker at his most insane and when he’s reserved, biding his time until he lashes out irrationally. (Ethan Anderton)

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