Wednesday, May 29, 2024

DC Comics, Films in Turmoil: Head of Division Ousted as Two Different Actors — Jared Leto, Joaquin Phoenix– Will Star as “The Joker”


It’s been pretty clear for a long time to fans that the DC Comics Universe in the movies, at least, is a freakin’ mess.

With the exception of “Wonder Woman,” none of the recent movies have made anyone happy. “Suicide Squad,” “Justice League,” “Batman vs. Superman” — oy vey. They don’t hold a candle to the Marvel movies, and I say this as a childhood fan of DC.

One bright spot of “Suicide Squad” was Jared Leto as The Joker. This was a big deal since Heath Ledger had been so indelible as The Joker in “The Dark Knight Returns” and won an Oscar. But he’s gone.

But instead of giving Leto a standalone movie, or one with Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, DC and Warner Bros. announced a different Joker movie starring Joaquin Phoenix, directed by Todd Phillips. So that would mean Phoenix in that film, Leto (maybe) in another “Suicide Squad” movie. The Joker’s wild!

Now, suddenly, a Leto Joker movie is back (reported by Variety). But so is the Phoenix film. Leto is bright and colorful, Phoenix is dark and wicked. Clearly, no one at DC and WB can decide what the Joker is. This would be as if Marvel had Ryan Reynolds in one set of Deadpool movies, and Daniel Day Lewis (as if) in another.

But Marvel knows what they are, with a clear editorial focus.

DC, on the other hand, doesn’t. That’s why they ousted DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson this week. She was also head of Warner Consumer Products. Nelson was with Warner Bros. for 20 years. But she is gone, completely, after all this confusion. (And that includes the Ben Affleck-Batman situation.)

So now what? Maybe DC/WB can find someone with a passion and clear understanding of the DC Universe. So far that’s been limited to Patty Jenks with “Wonder Woman.”

And two Jokers? It didn’t work for “The Two Jakes.” (Inside joke.) It won’t work here.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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