Spider-Man: Far From Home - Alternate Suit Concept Art

Want to see some of the alternate suits that Spidey almost wore in Spider-Man: Far From Home? Will the Titans pop up on Crisis on Infinite Earths after all? Is Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje coming back as Killer Croc for The Suicide Squad? How much money will Gary Glitter get for his song appearing in Joker? What Batman 1989 cast member is actually appearing in Crisis on Infinite Earths? All that and more in this edition of Superhero Bits. Read More »

weekend box office joker addams family gemini man

The weekend box office returns are in, and once again, Joker reigns supreme. The Todd Phillips movie starring Joaquin Phoenix as a crazy killer clown who loves to dance ended up at the top of the box office for the second week in a row. As far as new releases go, The Addams Family had a strong opening at second place. But Gemini Man, starring Will Smith and Will Smith, had trouble drawing a crowd. The real winner of the weekend, though, was Bong Joon Ho‘s Parasite, which only opened in three theaters, but hauled in the largest per-theater average of the year.

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Joker Bathroom Scene

Right around the time Joker hit theaters, star Joaquin Phoenix revealed that the movie had some “radical changes” to the script that took place throughout production. Now, thanks to director Todd Phillips, we have an idea of how the Joker bathroom scene in particular was changed significantly from the original script. In fact, this change made the scene infinitely better, because the original scene in question was a lot more ham-fisted than what ended up in theaters.  Read More »

Spider-Man: Far From Home - Alternate Iron Man Mural

Who is Wayne Brady playing in Black Lightning? Want to hear Robert Downey Jr.‘s fond memory of the last time he shot with Stan Lee? How is Michael Keaton popping up in Crisis on Infinite Earths? Why did a Vin Diesel sound-alike need to be hired for the Bloodshot movie? Who is Nathan Fillion rumored to be playing in The Suicide Squad? Want to see concept are for an unused elemental in Spider-Man: Far From Home? All that and more in this edition of Superhero Bits. Read More »

Tracking Joaquin Phoenix

(Welcome to Role Call, where we examine two performances from an actor – their first defining role and their most recent/last – to get a sense of who they are.)

Joaquin Phoenix has been playing the Joker for a long time.

As the awkward romantic Leonard Kraditor in Two Lovers. As the lonely, optimistic Theodore Twombly in Her. As the morally ambiguous bruiser Bruno in The Immigrant. There’s also the scorned, disrespected monster Commodus in Gladiator, the sick puppy dog Freddie Quell in The Master, and the vacant, delusional version of “Joaquin Phoenix” who stared and stuttered his way through emerging hip-hop fame in I’m Still Here.

All of these puzzle pieces are present in his version of DC’s most infamous bad guy.

Usually in this column, we explore how Angela Lansbury went from gorgeous ingenue to globally respected murder-solver, but Phoenix’s career shifted slightly different than everyone else’s. While a lot of other stars evolve by broadening how we see the scope of their talents, Phoenix has deepened. His talent has a singular focus. In a word, “troubled.”

As in, more often than not, reviews of his movies include the phrase, “Joaquin Phoenix plays a troubled…” A troubled philosophy professor. A troubled club manager. A troubled WWII veteran. A troubled hit man. A troubled performer. The best – “a troubled soul,” from one description of The Master –  sums up his career in just three words.

While Phoenix has stayed focused, the movie industry has evolved around him to take him from supporting actor to troubled leading man. Let’s look at how far he’s come from a laugh in 1995 to a signature cackle in 2019.

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Toy Story 4 Easter Eggs

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, run through a bunch of Easter eggs you might have missed in Pixar Animation’s surprisingly great sequel Toy Story 4. Plus, watch a trailer mash-up of Joaquin Phoenix‘s roles in the recently released Joker and the sci-fi romance Her, and be amazed as Big Mouth co-creator and voice star Nick Kroll improvises voices for seven new cartoon characters on the spot. Read More »

Harley Quinn Animated Series

Will you vote for Jason Todd to live or die on Titans? How many viewers did the Batwoman pilot rerun reel in? How did Daredevil star Charlie Cox honor Stan Lee at an NYCC tribute? What villain does Benedict Wong want to see in the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel? Would you like to see Dove Cameron as the live-action Spider-Gwen? All that and more in this edition of Superhero Bits. Read More »

joker laugh

A great comic book villain isn’t living up to his or her potential without a proper musical theme, and in the case of Joker, he gets one courtesy of composer Hildur Guðnadóttir. Her score for Joker is chillingly good and up there with the best of the genre, with an intensity matching and complimenting Joaquin Pheonix‘s performance. Again, the Emmy-winning composer behind Chernobyl elicits intense feelings of horror and uneasiness, although she laughs when people – including myself – tell her that her music has a horror quality to it. “It’s definitely very common that my music is perceived as darker than what I am feeling myself,” she told us, laughing. In her view, her music is more reflective than horrific.

Prior to Joker, Guðnadóttir has produced several albums of her own (which you should listen to on Spotify), performed cello on The Revenant and several other films all movie nerds know, and collaborated frequently with the deeply missed Johan Johansson (Arrival). After playing cello on Sicario, years later she was composing the music for its sequel, Day of Soldado. Now, she’s scored her first big comic book movie, and she told us all about her experience, her collaboration with director Todd Phillips‘, and the movie’s stunning final piece, “Call Me Joker.”

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box office tracking gemini man

Two new wide-release movies are headed to theaters this weekend: Ang Lee’s Gemini Man, and the rather terrible-looking animated Addams Family movie. But it looks like the Clown Prince of Crime will continue to reign, as box office tracking indicates that Joker is expected to remain in first place. Not even two Will Smiths and cartoon Oscar Issac are enough to stop Joaquin Phoenix and his weird dance moves.

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While many a superhero film has had a villain problem, the Joker is one villain from the comics medium who has not only translated well, but also lent himself to a succession of compelling reinterpretations. He’s the greatest comic book villain of all time and he’s lit up the big screen with equal gusto. With Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker coming off a record-breaking box-office weekend, this is as good a time as any to rank the various iterations of the Clown Prince of Crime on film.

For an old-school fan of the J-man, it’s tempting to include Batman: The Animated Series and the 1960s live-action Batman TV series on this list. Both feature classic depictions of the Joker. Thankfully, their Jokers had such a taste for the theatrical that they also crossed over into movies. Not counting the animated movie Batman: The Killing Joke, which played in theaters for one night only before going direct-to-video, there have been seven cinematic Jokers since 1966.

If it doesn’t feel like we’re playing with a full deck here, well, since when has the Joker ever been wired that way? Regrettably, we don’t have time to mess around with the Proto-Jokers of the TV series Gotham, or any of the animated, direct-to-video Jokers of the DC Universe Movies. This is the meat-and-potatoes ranking of Jokers. I’ve developed a secret algorithm for a precise ordering that is infallibly correct. It’s called the Smylex Algorithm. “And here we … go.”

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